Tablet sales start to slump despite strong growth in 2021

Man using a tablet in an office
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Global tablet shipments fell by 11.9% year-over-year, according to preliminary data from IDC's worldwide quarterly personal computing device tracker.

The number of tablets shipped worldwide dropped to 46 million units in Q4 2021, marking the second fall since the outbreak of the pandemic in 2020.

Even so, IDC reported that overall tablet shipments in 2021 grew 3.2% on a year-over-year basis, reaching 168.8 million units, the most since 2016. Apple claimed the majority share of the tablet market in Q4 2021 (38.0%), followed by Samsung (15.9%) and Lenovo (10.0%).

Despite 63.6% year-over-year decrease in Chromebooks shipments in the fourth quarter, full-year sales increased by 13.5%. Acer, Dell and Lenovo were among the top players.

"Much of the initial demand for Chromebooks has been satiated in primary markets like the US and Europe and this has led to a slowdown in overall shipments. However, Chromebook demand in emerging markets has seen continued growth in the past year," said Jitesh Ubrani, research manager of IDC's mobility and consumer device trackers.

"Supply has also been unusually tight for Chromebooks as component shortages have led vendors to prioritize Windows machines due to their higher price tags, further suppressing Chromebook shipments on a global scale," added Ubrani.


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HP took the fifth spot in Chromebooks shipments in Q4, but the led the 2021 market share with 27.7%.

"Though 2021 was a great year for the tablet market, shipments have begun to decelerate as the market has moved past peak demand across many geographies," said Anuroopa Nataraj, senior research analyst with IDC's mobility and consumer device trackers.

"However, shipments in the near future will remain above pre-pandemic levels as virtual learning, remote work, and media consumption remain priorities for users."