The incredible growth of the global tablet market could be short-lived

The incredible growth of the global tablet market could be short-lived
Unlike the mobile industry, which had its worst year in a long time due to the global coronavirus pandemic that also harmed so many other formerly successful businesses in 2020, the tablet market enjoyed a completely unforeseen rebound at the very peak of the COVID-19 medical and financial crisis.

Following a predictably bad first quarter of last year, when worldwide shipments took a hit of around 18 percent compared to the same period back in 2019, tablets surged for the rest of 2020, gaining 26, 25, and 54 (!!!) percentage points year-on-year in Q2, Q3, and Q4 respectively according to various reputable research firms. 

All in all, 2020 sales were up by 28 percent, or a whopping 35 million units or so, from the previous year, at least based on a Canalys report published just last week. But in case you're wondering if this astounding growth rate is sustainable in the long run, Digitimes seems to provide a resounding no as an answer to your burning question, anticipating a huge sequential decline in Q1 2021 demand.

Compared to the final three months of 2020, global tablet shipments could go down by 31 percent during the first 90 days of this year, kicking off a new trend forecasted to last at least through the end of 2021. Digitimes Research is not ready to predict just how poorly the market will perform this year compared to the last, but for what it's worth, "larger-size" models are expected to continue growing in popularity, which might help most top vendors keep their overall revenue scores high.

Interestingly, this new report ranks TCL rather than Huawei in fifth place among the world's largest Q4 2020 tablet vendors, with the latter company expected to continue its free fall in the early stages of 2021 for fairly obvious reasons. Other big manufacturers are likely to suffer as a consequence of component shortages in Q1 and Q2 as well, so it's not entirely clear how much of the market's forecasted decline this year will in fact be directly caused by shrinking customer demand.

It may also be a little early to predict a full-year sales drop, especially with Q1 2021 numbers bound to improve on the absolutely dismal worldwide total of the January - March 2020 timeframe. After all, Apple, Samsung, and Lenovo have pretty great new products up their sleeves that could well turn things around starting in Q2.

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