The tablet category growth is on the rise, growing 18% in 2020 compared to 2019, according to Strategy Analytics, The increase was attributed in part to the form factor being well positioned as an economical alternative to laptops as the COVID-19 pandemic led to more use of computing and mobile devices.
It’s the strongest tablet growth seen in the past seven years, according to Strategy Analytics. The big question: Is the increase a one-year phenomena that will fade along with the pandemic or if the sector can sustain a rebirth?
The top three suppliers for tablets and their growth identified in the Strategy Analytics tablet growth report include:
- Apple (30% year-over-year growth, 57.6 million tablets shipped in 2020)
- Samsung (43% year-over-year growth, 31.2 million tablets shipped in 2020)
- Amazon (12% year-over-year growth, 17.1 million tablets shipped in 2020)
The increased sales led to some jockeying but not dramatic change in market share. Apple and Samsung slightly increased their market share leads compared to 2019. Apple rose from 27.7% to 30.6%, with Samsung increasing from 13.6% to 16.6%. The other vendors rose and fell. Amazon fell from 9.5% to 9.1%, Lenovo rose from 5.3% to 7.5%, Huawei fell from 9.0% to 8.7% and “others” fell from 34.9% to 27.6%.
Android remain the top operating system. It finished 2020 at 57.4%, a slight dip from 59.4% at the end of 2019. iOS/iPad rose from 27.7% in 2019 to 30.6% last year.
The bottom line may be that some of the mobile innovations in work, education and entertainment forced by the pandemic will continue after the crisis subsides. But that, according to Strategy Analytics Connected Computing Director Eric Smith, doesn’t mean that this tablet growth momentum will continue.
“The new normal will start to emerge in 2021 as pandemic restrictions slowly fade away, but we fully expect work-from-home and learn-from-home will have won over fans among workers, students, companies, and educational institutions alike,” Smith said in a press release. “How tablet vendors choose to address this urgent need for mobile productivity will depend on their unique set of strengths and weaknesses, but it is clear that they must fight even harder for revenue in this competitive environment. Risk remains for tablets to be outflanked by notebooks or smartphones in the future.”
Support for tablets was routinely part of pandemic-related initiatives. For instance, tablets – along with laptops and hotspots were part of an early pandemic response offer made by AT&T in March and support for tablets was mentioned when Verizon Business introduced its Complete Business Bundle last week.