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'Minor Lift' Looms for Tablets

After Pandemic's Boom, PC Vendors Enduring Steep Declines: Canalys

After pandemic-fueled work- and school-from home trends drove unexpected gains beginning in Q2 2020, worldwide Q2 PC shipments, including tablets, fell for the second consecutive quarter, dropping 14% year on year to 105 million units, reported Canalys Wednesday. The research firm cited inflation, COVID-19 lockdowns in China and slowed demand in consumer and education.

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HP had the steepest loss by percentage among PC makers, with a 27% falloff to 18.6 million units, followed by Samsung at minus 20% to 9.6 million shipments. Apple Mac shipments fell 19% to 20.6 million, while global PC market leader Lenovo, with 19.9% market share, had a 15% unit drop to 24.7 million shipments. Dell’s decline was slimmest at 5.3% to 14 million units, said the report.

Tablet and Chromebook shipments continued their slide for the fourth straight quarter. Tablets dropped 11% year on year to 34.8 million units globally in Q2, and Chromebook shipments plunged 57% to 5.1 million on continued lack of demand in the education market, Canalys said.

After a “prolonged surge" during the pandemic, tablets are trending down, with global market leader Apple having a 15% drop in iPad shipments to 12.1 million, followed by Samsung’s 13% decline to 6.9 million, Canalys said. Amazon was an outlier, with a 6.3% gain in Fire tablet shipments to 3.3 million, said the report.

“The rapid fall in consumer and education demand has accelerated the decline in tablet shipments as we move further from the peak of the pandemic,” said Canalys analyst Himani Mukka. “Inflation and fears of a recession are at the forefront of consumers’ minds, and spending on tablets has taken a backseat as the need for pandemic-era levels of use has fallen,” she said. Unlike notebooks, tablets “are not vital for business productivity, so commercial demand has not helped to offset the drop in consumer purchases," said the analyst.

Consumer weakness in tablets is expected to continue into Q3, though back-to-school offers and new tablet launches ahead of the holiday spending season will provide a “minor lift,” in demand, Mukka said. She gave a more positive outlook on the commercial side due to government orders in Asia Pacific markets.

The global Chromebook market stumbled after a surge in education demand. Acer was the leading vendor in Q2 with 26% market share despite a 28% drop in shipments to 1.3 million, Canalys said. Lenovo held on to second place despite a 56% unit drop in the quarter. Of the top five Chromebook makers, HP suffered the largest decline, 77% to 926,000, due to its reliance on the U.S. education sector, said the research firm. Dell Chromebook shipments fell 23% to 858,000, it said.

Chromebooks have been hit by year-on-year shipment declines each quarter since Q3, said analyst Brian Lynch. The downturn was expected after saturation in the U.S. and Japan, the two largest education markets, he said. The future global Chromebook market is due for more consistent performance, with fewer shipments and more traditional seasonality, Lynch said.

Lynch noted a “major buildup of Chromebook inventory” and the slowdown in demand. Despite recent declines, Chromebooks are shipping in “significantly higher numbers” than pre-pandemic and have had two consecutive quarters of sequential growth, Lynch said. Future digital education initiatives in various countries will offer growth opportunities for the category, he said.