Worldwide tablet shipments fell 19.1% to 30.7 million units in the first quarter of 2023 compared to the same period last year, according to a new report from International Data Corporation (IDC).

Though down from a year ago, shipment volume is now comparable to pre-pandemic levels, the research firm said. The first quarter volume was comparable to the 30.1 million units shipped in the first quarter of 2019 and 31.6 million in the first quarter of 2018.

Looking forward, “sell-in shipment” in the first half of 2023 is expected to be low as vendors focus on clearing out their inventory before the launch of newer models, according to IDC.

However, the second half of the year looks better as inflation eases and the global economy recovers, IDC said.

Tablet Shipments

No tablet seller was spared in the decline, according to IDC. In the first quarter, Apple, followed by Samsung led the market, with the two vendors comprising nearly 58% of the tablet market. Huawei moved up in rank and into the third position this quarter as the company continues “to create a competitive portfolio of large screen tablets,” IDC said.

Chromebook shipments also continued to drop in the first quarter. The 3.8 million units represented a 31% drop from the same period last year.

The drop in the first quarter comes after a slight increase in laptop shipments in the fourth quarter of last year.

“Tablet vendors entered the first quarter of 2023 with caution. As expected, both commercial and consumer volumes were low as [the] macro environment remained uncertain throughout Q1,” said Anuroopa Nataraj, senior research analyst with IDC’s Mobility and Consumer Device Trackers in a prepared statement.

“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.”

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