The latest global tablet sales numbers are in... and they're pretty confusing

The latest global tablet sales numbers are in... and they're pretty confusing
Unexpectedly boosted in the early stages of the coronavirus pandemic by the sudden need for portable (and largely affordable) computing devices of far more consumers than ever before, the tablet market has gradually returned to "normal" in recent quarters.

But while global demand has been on the decline for the last year or so, some major vendors are clearly better positioned than others to stop the bleeding and possibly even increase their sales figures again after certain disruptive factors are straightened out. 

These continue to include a resurgent pandemic, as well as "mounting macro-economic pressures" and Russia's invasion of Ukraine, and unfortunately, the short-term impact is expected to be significant, with a "much more challenging" second half of the year predicted by Strategy Analytics.

Was the market flat or down in Q2?

Curiously enough, the answer depends on who you ask, with the aforementioned market research firm estimating a pretty steep 15 percent fall in worldwide shipments between last year's second quarter and Q2 2022, and the International Data Corporation (IDC) tracking a microscopic gain of 0.15 percent during the same period.

There's a fairly large difference between quarterly sales of 38.9 and 40.5 million units, and although both analytics companies unsurprisingly rank Apple at the top of the vendor chart, Strategy Analytics is considerably overestimating Cupertino's numbers compared to the IDC.

Apple shipped either 12.6 or 14.8 million iPads in total in the April - June 2022 timeframe for a dominant market share of either 31 or 38 percent, losing either 2.9 or 7 percentage points in terms of year-on-year sales.

It's obviously hard to draw many clear conclusions from such unclear data, but Apple did definitely manage to confront those aforementioned industry-disrupting factors better than (most of) the competition, keeping a tight grip on its market supremacy without releasing any new products this quarter.

Samsung, Lenovo, and Android are not doing great

Despite recently characterizing the high-end Galaxy Tab S8 series as a commercial success, the global tablet market's silver medalist apparently registered a double-digit shipment decline from Q2 2021, when the Tab S7 family was already getting long in the tooth.

Samsung's fairly steep drop undoubtedly contributed to an overall year-on-year fall of 21 percent for Android-based tablets. Google's OS is down below 50 percent for the first time in a decade (!!!), with iPadOS getting dangerously close at a 38 percent slice of the pie despite Apple obviously being the sole hardware-making proponent of its in-house software platform.

A distant third placer, Windows did benefit from a boost in demand for "premium and detachable tablets", a general trend that also favors Apple, and to a lesser extent, Samsung. In other words, it's entirely possible that the Tab S8 family indeed sold well in Q2, with the brand's overall volume figures instead held down by lower-cost devices with low to mid-end specifications.

Speaking of, bargain specialist Amazon is basically the subject of the biggest controversy and statistical anomaly right now, jumping 27 percent to 5.5 million unit shipments in the latest IDC report while slipping 19 percent to 3.4 million units as far as Strategy Analytics is concerned.

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It's likely that the former number was erroneously estimated to include Prime Day 2022 sales figures of the company's Fire portfolio, which technically belong to the year's third calendar quarter. Meanwhile, Lenovo definitely suffered from the general decline in the popularity of low to mid-end tablets, whereas Huawei and a group of newcomers including Xiaomi, Oppo, Vivo, and Realme performed largely above expectations.

Huawei, of course, might be another reason why Android is slipping, maintaining and even strengthening its presence in markets like Russia with a fast-growing lineup of respectable devices powered by HarmonyOS.

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