Tablet and Chromebook shipments dipped in the fourth quarter, but annual growth persisted

Shawn Knight

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Bottom line: Global tablet shipments totaled 168.8 million units in 2021, an increase of 3.2 percent compared to the previous year. That’s the market’s highest level since 2016 but you wouldn’t know it based on Q4 figures alone as the ongoing component shortage had a big impact on the holiday buying season.

In the final three months of 2021, tablet shipments slid 11.9 percent year over year to 46 million. According to IDC, it’s the second market decline since the pandemic started in 2020.

Apple led the industry in terms of market share as it was responsible for 34.2 percent of all tablets shipped in 2021. Samsung placed second with 18.3 percent of all units shipped last year, followed by Lenovo with a 10.5 percent share. Amazon and Huawei rounded out the top five.

Thing were even worse for Chromebooks as shipments in the fourth quarter of 2021 were down 63.6 percent compared to the same period in 2020, totaling just 4.8 million units. Yet despite the poor holiday showing, Chromebook shipments were up 13.5 percent for the full calendar year compared to 2020.

Jitesh Ubrani, a research manager with IDC's Mobility and Consumer Device Trackers, said much of the initial demand for Chromebooks has been satiated in primary markets, leading to a slowdown in overall shipments. Demand in emerging markets has continued, but component shortages have forced some vendors to prioritize Windows machines because they sell for more, which is further suppressing Chromebook shipments.

Image credit: Daniel Korpai, Nathan Dumlao

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