Once again, no one is buying tablets for work anymore

A person looking at an iPad while surrounded by office supplies
(Image credit: Shutterstock / OPOLJA)

Despite healthy growth during the months that ensued following the pandemic, tablet sales have once again dipped and are now far below pre-pandemic levels having dropped 18% year-on-year in Q1 2023.

In a sector heavily influenced by seasonality, Canalys Research Manager Himani Mukka explained that “a drop in demand for tablets after the holidays is always expected,” but that the subsequent cutback has been more severe this time owing to high inflation.

Manufacturers also look to be working through existing inventory levels as they continue to run on reduced refresh cycles compared with smartphones and some laptop models.

Tablet sales continue to plummet

Despite shipping 17% fewer iPad models, Apple maintained prime position accounting for 38.9% of the tablet market in the first three months of 2023, up 0.3% from the year prior.

Samsung, too, saw a growth in its market share of 0.8% to 21.2%, though still on the base of fewer overall shipments.

Seeing the least reduction in shipment volume overall was Huawei, with only a 4.3% decline amid an average of 17.7% and a high of 37.0% (for Lenovo), despite ongoing pressures from Western governments including the US against Chinese companies.

One area that has proven instrumental for tablet sales in the past is education. Mukka explained that even this sector has seen some stagnation in procurement. Things have unlikely been helped by more affordable laptop models, especially Chromebooks, which have become a firm favorite in educational establishments for their increased productivity compared with a screen-only device.

Global fluctuations in pricing have also proven troublesome for the tablet market. While less prominent in the US, M2 versions of the 12.9 inch iPad Pro and 13.6 inch MacBook Air cost the same, leaving many preferring the more versatile laptop form.

Looking forward, Canalys predicts that the rematerialization of budgets and prospective growth in education in Asian markets will see tablet shipments recover in 2023, and accelerate in 2024, meaning there’s still some hope left yet.

Craig Hale

With several years’ experience freelancing in tech and automotive circles, Craig’s specific interests lie in technology that is designed to better our lives, including AI and ML, productivity aids, and smart fitness. He is also passionate about cars and the decarbonisation of personal transportation. As an avid bargain-hunter, you can be sure that any deal Craig finds is top value!