Heavy iPad demand leads to amazing shipment numbers


iPad Air 4 comes in a range of colors.
Demand for iPad and all tablets remains robust.
Screenshot: Apple

iPad shipments increased a whopping 75% during the first quarter of the year over same period of 2020, according a market analysis firm. It’s the result of people needing computers to work and learn from home as the pandemic drags on.

Other tablet makers saw strong Q1 2021 growth as well, but iPad continues to dominate the market.

The global market for tablets grew 44% year over year during the first quarter, according to Strategy Analytics. Eric Smith, an analyst with the firm, said, “To find this kind of growth, we have to go all the back to Q1 2013, which is just incredible to think about.”

iPad shipments are up no matter who you ask

No tablet maker reveals how many units it ships, so it’s up to analysts to analyst to estimate the numbers. Strategy Analytics says iPad shipments were 16.8 million in Q1. Rival analysts at IDC say iPad shipments totaled 12.7 million instead, for a 64% annual increase in units.

Despite the differences, both figures are drawing from Apple’s statement that its quarterly revenue from iPad in the March quarter of 2021 hit $7.8 billion, a year-over-year increase of 79%.

iPad quarterly shipments from 2017 to 2021
iPad shipments have been higher in all of the the past three quarters than they have in years.
Chart: Cult of Mac

For comparison, Strategy Analytics estimates Samsung shipped 8.3 million tablets in the January-through-March period, while Amazon shipped 3.8 million and Lenovo also shipped 3.8 million. All of these were up significantly.

An IDC analyst went on predict continuing robust tablet sales in the near future. “While vaccine rollouts and businesses returning to offices may slow down the work-from-home trend, we are still far from returning to ‘normal’ working conditions and hence the demand for tablets, especially detachables, is expected to continue for a while,” said Anuroopa Nataraj.

Apple’s sales in the current quarter might be buoyed by the May release of the 2021 iPad Pro, the first in this line with an Apple M1 processor and mini-LED display. The analysts at TrendForce predict that shoppers will snap up 5 million of the 12.9-inch version this year, and it alone will be 3.1% of the global tablet market.