Discounting and new products expected to propel the market towards year-on-year growth

By Souzana Psara

Global tablet sales reached 33 million in the third quarter of 2023, as reported by industry analysts Canalys, indicating a 7 per cent year-on-year decline.

However, there was an 8 per cent sequential increase, showcasing a recovery in the tablet market leading up to the crucial holiday season, boosted by the strong performance of new entrants.

In contrast, Chromebook shipments experienced a 19 per cent drop to 3.5 million in the same quarter, largely attributed to the clearance of back-to-school inventory through the channel, according to Canalys.

With inventory levels finding stability, there’s a continuous improvement in tablet shipments, Research Manager at Canalys Himani Mukka said.

This encouraging development sets a positive tone for the upcoming holiday season, where sustained discounting and the introduction of new products are expected to propel the market towards year-on-year growth.

The market landscape reflects a discernible shift in consumer preferences towards premium devices boasting larger screens, driven by evolving needs in productivity and content consumption.

“Tablet vendors must prioritise the integration of generative AI capabilities into their devices to maintain a competitive edge,” Mukka said.

Industry giants Apple and Samsung have signalled their intention to infuse AI experiences across their hardware portfolios.

“As PCs and smartphones gear up for substantial advances in on-device AI, vendors must ensure that their tablets keep pace,” Mukka added.

The objective is to deliver consistency in user experiences and uphold interoperability across the device ecosystem.

During these transformative shifts, the tablet market is on the brink of an exciting phase marked by innovation and growth.

As the tablet market undergoes constant evolution, smartphone manufacturers, particularly those from China, are gaining ground with innovative products and competitive pricing.

In the third quarter of 2023 rankings, Huawei and Xiaomi surpassed Amazon, indicating a notable shift in the competitive landscape.

Despite challenges, Apple maintained its lead by shipping 12.5 million iPads, securing a significant 38 per cent market share.

Meanwhile, in second position, Samsung faced a 6 per cent decline, shipping 6.2 million tablets, while Lenovo retained its third place standing with the shipment of 2.6 million tablets.

Huawei and Xiaomi claimed the fourth and fifth spots, respectively, with Xiaomi making a remarkable debut in the top five, exhibiting the highest growth among major vendors.

This dynamic restructuring of the vendor hierarchy underscores the increasing influence of smartphone manufacturers, especially those from China, and signifies a shift in consumer preferences within the expanding tablet market.

The global Chromebook market experienced a modest contraction in the third quarter of 2023 following a robust back-to-school season in the preceding quarter.

A substantial portion of the remaining inventory has now been cleared, reducing the heightened demand in the education sector.

Acer, despite a relatively modest drop of 16 per cent compared to the second quarter of 2023, managed to reclaim the top spot in Chromebook shipments. However, the year-over-year figures still reflected a 17 per cent decrease.

In contrast, second-placed HP encountered a more substantial sequential decline of 57 per cent, giving up the top position it held in the previous quarter.

Dell maintained its third-place standing, with Q3 shipments closely aligning with those of HP. The remaining positions in the top five rankings were secured by Lenovo and Asus.

Despite the overall decline, the Chromebook market landscape remains dynamic, with shifts in vendor positions reflecting the market’s response to changing demands and competition.

“Experiencing a significant downturn in the third quarter of 2023, Chromebooks saw their growth trajectory shift dramatically for the worse, with shipments plummeting by 40 per cent quarter on quarter. This marked a stark reversal from the earlier robust demand in the US education market,” an analyst at Canalys Kieren Jessop said.

Google recently introduced the Chromebook Plus laptops, featuring double the performance of standard Chromebooks while maintaining an affordable price point.

Additionally, these devices incorporate AI capabilities aimed at enhancing the video call experience. The Plus series represents the latest effort from the Chrome team to expand its presence beyond the education and consumer segments, which still contribute to over 80 per cent of Chromebook shipments.

In conclusion, Jessop added that “while Chromebook Plus machines are expected to perform well in the small business segment compared to their predecessors, they face challenging competition. The PC industry’s current focus on AI-enabled devices may present challenges for Chromebooks to keep pace with”.