The introduction of tablets many years ago to the smart device consumer landscape has certainly changed the way that buyers interact with their devices, providing a size and performance advantage that isn’t available on most “regular” smartphones. Over the years, tablets have only gotten better in terms of hardware and performance, as shown by entries from Apple’s iPad Pro series and Samsung’s Galaxy Tab S range.
With that being said however, it looks like consumers’ spending habits and product adoption have changed towards tablet devices, based on data from research firm Canalys. In fact, worldwide shipments of tablets saw a drop of 11% year-on-year (YoY) in Q4 2023, which totals to about 37.8 million units. This then resulted in around 135.3 million tablets shipped worldwide, and although this might sound like a lot it’s actually a 10% decrease compared to figures from 2022.
Interestingly, markets such as China and India were key regions that continued to drive device adoption, meaning that tablet sales weren’t necessarily dying out everywhere. Additionally, it was observed that promotional strategies designed to include tablets along with promos and bundles were plentiful especially in regions such as Asia Pacific, although this wasn’t enough to combat the overall change worldwide. Himani Mukka, Research Manager at Canalys states:
“The latest holiday season saw a significant surge in tablet promotions and bundled offers, but this wasn’t enough to reverse the market’s fortunes… Aggressive promotional strategies have been implemented globally to address longstanding elevated tablet inventories. In certain markets in Asia Pacific, for example, there have been instances of old tablet models being bundled with newly launched smartphones to expedite inventory clearance.”
“With healthier inventory levels and further scope for government and commercial deployments, tablet sell-in is expected to rebound in 2024. New models announced by TCL and Lenovo at CES 2024 and anticipated updates to Apple’s iPad portfolio early this year will help provide a boost to the tablet refresh opportunity.”
It should be said that the tablet market’s performance during Q4 2023 was propped up by big names – for example, Huawei showed significant shipment growth at 95%, allowing it to climb to third place behind Samsung, which managed to ship 6.8 million units amidst an 11% annual decrease. Apple still maintains the overall lead with 14.8 million iPads shipped in Q4 2023, although it still experienced a 24% YoY decline. Analysts cite AI as a significant differentiator, especially since we’re starting to see more and more AI-supported software features on smartphones and PCs. Kieren Jessop at Canalys adds:
“The innovation gap between tablets and other personal computing devices is something for key tablet vendors to pay attention to… Plans around on-device AI integration in tablets trail behind those in PCs and smartphones. Bringing this functionality across devices will be crucial for vendors aiming to deliver a unified and seamless experience on ecosystems.”
Following the top three ranked brands are Lenovo which experienced a shipment growth of 15%, and Amazon in fifth place with 2 million tablets shipped globally, although the company experienced a 44% annual decline.