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Tablets, Chromebooks have bumper year

IDC reports says sales for tablets and Chromebooks grew in 2020 and will continue to do well in 2021.

It says both classes of devices sold to consumers, businesses and schools as people looked to stay connected during the pandemic lockdowns.

IDC says tablet shipments had double digit growth in 2020. It forecasts shipments will grow a further 1.8 per cent in 2021. That’s a modest number, but is better than flat or negative growth experienced before the Covid outbreak.

A different take

Gartner offers a different take on the tablet sector. It forecasts the number of tablets in use will rise 11.7 per cent in 2021.

That is faster growth than for laptops, which Gartner says will increase 8.8 per cent this year.

IDC expects Chromebook sales to climb 33.5 per cent this year. 2020 was the best year ever for Chromebook sales. Gartner puts last year’s growth at 80 per cent.

While Chromebook growth is higher, it is off a smaller base. IDC expects a total of 43.4 million Chromebooks to ship this year while tablet numbers will reach 166.5 million.

In both cases, the devices’ lower price when compared with laptops or desktops is behind the growth.

Tablets future less certain

IDC is less positive about future sales of these devices. It says it expects demand to slow as lockdown restrictions relax.

In the past Chromebooks have mainly been popular with schools and with cash-strapped parents looking for low-cost devices for learning and entertainment.

Jitesh Ubrani, research manager with IDC Mobility and Consumer Device Trackers says: “Chromebooks are quickly proving themselves useful within workplaces. While they will not supplant Windows and Mac in these settings, they are expected to provide competition, particularly in job functions where high performance and legacy support isn’t a priority.”

“On the tablet side, detachable tablets will remain a bright spot as these devices are more PC-like than ever, both from a hardware and a software perspective.”

Meanwhile phones are about to see a modest upturn in sales after an ugly year in 2020. Gartner says the total number of phones in use declined 2.6 per cent in 2020 and will rise by one per cent this year.