iPad shipments dropped by double digits in the first quarter of 2023, according to two different market-analysts firms. But Apple’s tablet was hardly alone — the entire global market dropped nearly 20%. As a result, iPad held on to its huge lead over its rivals.
The analysts blamed the decline in global shipments on inflation as well as a post-pandemic reduction in demand for tablets.
A new era for iPad demand (and shipments)
The pandemic brought a huge surge in demand for tablets of all types. As one example, the first quarter of 2021 saw a 75% year-over-year increase in iPad shipments, according to Strategy Analytics.
But the pandemic is over, and people returning to offices and schools need fewer tablets to work from home. Plus, a tablet bought during the peak of “shelter in place” is still relatively new — need for a replacement is perhaps a year away.
But that’s not the only reason for the decline. “A drop in demand for tablets after the holidays is always expected, but the cutback in consumer spending amid high inflation has been severe this time around,” said Himani Mukka, Research Manager at Canalys.
Apple reported May 4 that revenue from iPad sales in the first quarter of 2023 declined 13% compared to the same period of 2022. But the company doesn’t announce exactly how many units it sells. It’s up to analysts to estimate that figure. And they rarely agree.
Canalys says the iPad shipment total in the March quarter was 12.3 million, while rival market-analysts firm IDC says the total was 10.8 million.
Fewer cheap or fewer expensive iPad models?
Both market-analysis firms agree there was a decline, but they flip flop on how severe it was. IDC says Apple shipped 10.2% fewer tablets in Q1 2023 than the same quarter of the previous year, while Canalys says the number of units was 17.0% lower.
As we know for sure what Apple’s quarterly was, the differences in unit numbers results from the separate groups of analysts coming up with very different estimates on what types of iPads most consumers are buying.
IDC says the decline in the unit number was lower that the drop in revenue, which means it thinks the drop came mostly from consumers buying fewer of the more expensive Apple models, like the iPad Pro. Canalys, on the other hand, claims the unit drop was greater than the revenue drop, which means it thinks people bought fewer of the cheaper models, like the iPad 10.
Bad quarter for all tablets
Apple shipments made up 38.9% of the global tablet market, reports Canalys. Its closest competitor was Samsung with 6.7 million units shipped and 21.2% of the market. Its unit shipments went down 14.4% year over year.
Amazon came in third with 2.5 million in shipments giving it 7.9% of the tablet market. It’s dropped 29.9% over the same quarter of 2022.
But the analysts at Canalys are optimistic for the future. “Overall tablet demand is expected to gradually recover in the second half of 2023 and accelerate in 2024, with shipments staying above pre-pandemic levels,” said Mukka.