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Tablet sales surge as pandemic bites

Canalys reports worldwide tablet shipments hit 37.5 million units in Q2 2020, a 26 percent year-on-year increase.

Worldwide tablet PC market Q2 2020

Source: Canalys Newsroom- Worldwide tablet PC market Q2 2020

The tablet is back. Tablet shipments climbed 26 percent in the second quarter. Desktop PC shipments dropped 26 percent, while notebook shipments were up 24 percent.

The overall effect was positive for PC makers who have suitable models, but otherwise it bordered on disastrous.

Across the world retail outlets selling computers and other electronic devices were closed down by the pandemic. Microsoft took the decision to permanently close its physical stores.

Apple wins

The only company to emerge unscathed was Apple, which had the right mix of products and offering to meet the public’s needs. The company made billions of extra dollars from its iPad and Mac product lines during the quarter.

Apple doesn’t provide unit sales numbers, but Canalys estimates the company sold 14.25 million iPads. That’s almost 20 percent more than the same time a year ago.

Apple now has a 38 percent share of the tablet market. Its nearest rival, Samsung has less than half that amount. Yet Samsung unit sales grew even faster than Apple’s numbers. The other tablet makers, Huawei, Amazon and Lenovo all posted a huge growth in sales.

Canalys does not count Microsoft’s Surface models as tablets.

As is usual with these reports, the focus is on unit sales. What Canalys doesn’t show is that Apple’s market share in terms of revenue is higher again. As a rough estimate Apple would account for more than half of tablet revenue and an even higher share of tablet profit.

Canalys notes the strong demand for tablets was because the devices are suitable for remote work and education. They do a solid job with communications and collaboration. Most of all, they are often cheaper to buy. The analyst company also points out retailers offered aggressive discounts on tablets. In the US mobile carriers offered 60 days of unlimited wireless for devices purchased in the education sector.

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