Tablet, Chromebook shipments come crashing down

Huawei was the only major tablet maker to grow shipments in Q3 on the back of demand in China and Russia as the rest of the top five manufacturers reported shrinking sales to retailers and distributors.

Tablet shipments declined 8.8 percent year-on-year in the three months ended September to 38.6 million units – the fifth consecutive drop – and Chromebooks fared even worse during the quarter.

“After massive growth in 2020 and 2021, a decline in the tablet market was expected in 2022. The market is now experiencing not only a slowdown in demand, but also some strong macro-economic headwinds,” said Anuroopa Naturaj, IDC research analyst. “Even though most tablets (Android) and Chromebooks are lower cost, we’re now seeing buyer concerns even at the low end. This is largely driven by these rising economic concerns.”

IDC said Chinese vendors, particularly Huawei, tapped into the demand for cheaper devices to “perform well in Russia” where sanctions prevented Western tech makers from peddling hardware.

Apple saw sales decline 1.1 percent to 14.5 million, according to IDC estimates. Samsung was down 4 percent to 7.1 million, Amazon fell 8.1 percent to 4.3 million, Lenovo shipments dropped 36.6 percent to 2.7 million, and Huawei grew 2 percent to 2.4 million.

In its results filed late last week, Apple said iPad sales to end users were up 21 percent to $8.3 billion in Q4 of its fiscal ’22 ended 30 September despite supply constraints. IDC tracks sales into the channel, hence the difference in the figures.

Chromebook shipments fell at a far faster rate, down 34.4 percent year-on-year to 4.3 million devices. This was the fifth straight decline for this sector of the PC industry. The downward trajectory began in the US, which accounted for 70 percent of global shipments. The buying frenzy during lockdown meant verticals including education had enjoyed their fill and won’t need replacements for some time.

Ryan Reith, group vice president at IDC, said Chromebooks may face challenges in the industry, “not all of which are because of limitations to the platform.”

IDC placed Acer as market leader with shipments of 1 million, albeit down 23.8 percent on a year ago. Dell shrank 19.9 percent to 900,000 units, HP was down 26.8 percent to 800,000, Lenovo plunged 54.8 percent to 700,000, and Samsung was down 37 percent to 300,000.

Reith added: “We firmly believe Chromebooks will continue to play a fundamental role in personal computing, and ultimately grow in presence compared to other existing platforms.

“But the growth will continue to be tempered as the industry adapts to this new environment we are all living in. We have seen many of the large PC brands prioritize around opportunities within the Windows PC space, and without their support from the supply side the Chrome market will continue to move rather slowly.”

“What goes up must come down” is the old saying, and this Halloween, tablets and Chromebooks certainly went bump. ®

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