The global tablet market experienced a significant downturn in 2023, with shipments declining by a severe 17.4% year on year in the final quarter, amounting to 36.8 million units, according to the International Data Corporation (IDC). It constitutes the largest decrease in Q4 tablet shipments since 2016. The slump continued throughout the year, leading to overall tablet shipments dwindling to 128.5 million units for 2023, shrinking by 20.5% compared with 2022. This figure also marks the lowest annual volume observed since 2011.
Anuroopa Nataraj, senior research analyst with IDC's Mobility and Consumer Device Trackers, suggested the disappointing market performance could be attributed to economic difficulties and a change in consumers' spending habits. She explained that "with no significant improvements to the economy and consumers allocating their money to things beyond consumer electronics, tablets may not be very high on the priority list." Additionally, Nataraj noted that "project delays and spending freezes have also led to purchase postponement through much of 2023."
Despite the impact of these factors, Nataraj anticipates a potential resurgence in 2024 if economic conditions improve. However, she remains cautious, commenting that "overall challenges remain in the tablet market, and technological advances around AI will likely focus more on the PC and smartphone for the next two years, but tablets will increasingly become part of that conversation."
Apple held onto its leading position in the tablet market, although the brand experienced a significant decline in shipments, dropping by 29.3% in Q4 and 19.8% for the entire year. Despite this setback, Apple's full-year market share remained steady at over 37%. Samsung secured the second spot with a less severe decline and minimal change in its market share throughout the year.
The fourth quarter saw strong growth from Chinese companies Xiaomi and Huawei, with increases of 35.0% and 21.2%, respectively. Xiaomi capitalised on this momentum, displacing Amazon from the Q4 top five. Huawei, on the other hand, delivered the best overall performance among the top five market players, with an annual shipment decline of only 4.0%.