Worldwide tablet shipments posted decline of 19.1% year over year in the first quarter of 2023 (1Q23), totaling 30.7 million units, according to research firm IDC.
The low shipment volume is now comparable to pre-pandemic levels. Shipment volume in 1Q23 was comparable to the 30.1 million units shipped in 1Q19 and 31.6 million in 1Q18.
Sell-in shipment in the first half of 2023 is expected to be low, with vendors focusing on clearing out their inventory before the launch of newer models.
Chromebook shipments also continued to contract in 1Q23 with shipments totaling 3.8 million units for a year-over-year decline of 31% year over year.
However, the quarterly decline was much less as Chromebook shipments picked up slightly by the end of the quarter with some vendors pulling-in orders due to an expected increase in the Chrome OS licensing cost in the second half of 2023.
All top tablet vendors posted a decline in the quarter. The decline came from a very healthy base compared to the past years.
As employees return to the office around the world and as consumers continue to be cautious of their expenditure, the market continues to witness weakening demand.
However, with signs of global economic recovery, including easing inflation, the second half of 2023 may witness some improvements in the shipments.
In Q1 2023, Apple, followed by Samsung led the market once again, both the vendors making up nearly 58% of the tablet market even with the changing landscape post-pandemic.
Huawei moved up in rank and secured the third position this quarter as they continue to create a competitive portfolio of large screen tablets. The two new models – MatePad SE 10.4” and MatePad 11” tablets were well received in PRC.
However, the new launches still couldn’t offset the decline due to the prevailing macro-economic factors and their shipments declined by 9.7% year over year.
In the fourth position was Lenovo, who also continued to have contracted volume due to weaking demand.
Amazon, rounded up at the fifth position, with a huge drop of 62% year over year. Amazon’s shipments in 2023Q1 have been the lowest since the pandemic and this decline can be attributed to seasonality, piled up inventory and low demand.
“Tablet vendors entered the first quarter of 2023 with caution. As expected, both commercial and consumer volumes were low as macro environment remained uncertain throughout Q1,” said Anuroopa Nataraj, senior research analyst with IDC’s Mobility and Consumer Device Trackers.
“However, what is noteworthy is the positive impact the restrictions from the pandemic had in the adoption of tablets and how many vendors seized the opportunity to devise and deploy models that aptly supported the use cases during the lockdowns and after.
“For instance, large screen tablets, ideal for remote learning and hybrid work situations, increased significantly in share compared to pre-pandemic levels.”
Jitesh Ubrani, research manager with IDC’s Mobility and Consumer Device Trackers, said despite the downturn in tablet shipments, there’s some reason for optimism as more vendors are paying attention to the space.
“OnePlus’ recent launch and the upcoming Pixel Tablet from Google are clear signs that there’s appetite from the supply side. Google’s re-entry is of particular interest as it has the potential to improve Android’s tablet experience while also making the tablet an integral part of the smart home,” he said.