In this one market, Apple was the only tablet producer to show growth during Q3
According to Canalys, during the third quarter of 2021 tablet shipments in Western Europe hit 6.9 million units for a decline of 20% on a year-over-year basis. Trang Pham, Canalys Research Analyst, said, "In Q3 2020, tablets had an extraordinary performance as they filled a gap created by PCs shortages. They are now seeing a corrective decline as penetration within the primary user base saturates."
Western Europe tablet shipments dropped 20% on an annual basis during the third quarter
In other words, last year with many people working from home and children homeschooling, demand for PCs was so strong that they became hard to find. Many decided to purchase a tablet instead. With such a device, men and women could work from home during the day and stream movies and music during the night.
Apple was the only tablet manufacture to show growth in Western Europe during Q3
The kids could use their tablets to view live feeds of their lessons presented by their teachers, do homework in the early afternoon, and watch videos and listen to music during the evening. And both the adults and the kids could find a tablet that uses an operating system that they are very familiar with be it iOS or Android. Despite the sharp decline for the industry during Q3 in Western Europe, there was one standout performer: the iPad.
Apple was the only tablet manufacturer to show growth in Western Europe from July through September. The 3.1 million units shipped by Apple was a gain of 33% on an annual basis and gave the device a 45% share of the tablet market in the region. Canalys' Pham explained how Apple was able to achieve growth in a market that experienced a poor quarter in Western Europe.
The research analyst said, "The iPad’s consistent performance today is thanks to Apple’s dedicated focus on the tablet market. Apple continues to launch newer iPads throughout the year catering to more customer segments. Despite the crunch, Apple’s vertically integrated supply chain has insulated it well from bearing the brunt of the corrective decline."
Samsung was second in tablet shipments during the quarter even though it saw deliveries of its slates decline a whopping 53% on an annual basis to total approximately 1 million units. Third place Lenovo saw its tablet shipments in Western Europe decline by 20% during the third quarter while both Huawei and Amazon experienced a 48% decline on a year-over-year basis in the region.
Huawei was fourth as it shipped slightly more than 500,000 tablets during the three months while Amazon delivered approximately half a million units. If you are studying the numbers, you'll see that of the top five companies shipping tablets to Western Europe, during the third quarter only Apple and the iPad experienced any year-over-year growth.
The global chip shortage might make it tough for Apple to continue to show growth in iPad shipments in the region
But Apple has already made a tough decision that impacts its tablet business. With the pandemic producing a global chip shortage, Apple decided that it wanted to use its dwindling chip inventories to build new iPhone models since its profit margins are higher for its smartphones. So Apple has reportedly cut iPad production by up to 50% and is using the chips and other parts originally earmarked for its tablets to build more iPhone 13 units.
With the new Omicron COVID variant getting consumers and leaders concerned about the virus again, Western Europe is a vulnerable region, and while that could help increase the demand for tablets, it could also lead to a decline in the availability of product. Canalys' Pham notes, "Despite being early to rollout vaccines, certain countries in Western Europe have lagged behind in terms of vaccination rates."
The analyst adds, "With a possible fourth wave looming, the region’s economic recovery is under serious threat. Any setback is likely to impact the revival of not just SMBs (small and mid-sized businesses), but also other businesses that have just begun to re-open."