According to the latest data from Canalys released today, global tablet shipments experienced a drop of 11 per cent year-on-year in Q4 2023, to a total of 37.8 million units. The findings resulted in a full-year 2023 figure of 135.3 million tablets shipped, a 10 per cent decrease from 2022.

“The latest holiday season saw a significant surge in tablet promotions and bundled offers, but this was not enough to reverse the market’s fortunes, “said Himani Mukka, research manager at Canalys.

Mukka added, “with healthier inventory levels and further scope for government and commercial deployments, tablet sell-in is expected to rebound in 2024. New models announced by TCL and Lenovo at CES 2024 and anticipated updates to Apple’s iPad portfolio early this year will help provide a boost to the tablet refresh opportunity.”

Kieran Jessop, an analyst with the firm, said that a key element that tablet vendors need to pay attention to is the “innovation gap between tablets and other personal computing devices.

“Plans around on-device AI integration in tablets trail behind those in PCs and smartphones. Bringing this functionality across devices will be crucial for vendors aiming to deliver a unified and seamless experience on ecosystems. Elsewhere, this year will see a greater focus on foldable tablet form factors. Although shipment volumes will likely remain restricted due to the premium pricing of these models, they will provide an opportunity for vendors to showcase user-experience benefits for content consumption, learning and productivity.”

Apple maintained its leading position in shipments despite a 24 per cent year-on-year decline, shipping 14.8 million iPads in the quarter, while Samsung secured second spot with 6.8 million units shipped, posting an 11 per cent annual decrease.

Huawei landed in third, with 2.8 million units shipped following healthy growth, and Lenovo, Canalys said, “dropped to fourth place but posted healthy shipment growth of 15 per cent, gaining over two points of market share year-on-year. Amazon rounded out the top five, with a 44 per cent annual decline and two million tablets shipped globally.”

The news is much brighter when it comes to PC shipments. Canalys is predicting that full-year 2024 shipments will hit 267 million units, an eight per cent rise from 2023, helped, it said, by “tailwinds including the Windows refresh cycle and emergence of AI-capable and Arm-based devices.”

In a forecast released late last year, Canalys analyst Ben Yeh said the global PC market is on a recovery path, and set to return to 2019 shipment levels in 2024: “The impact of AI on the PC industry will be profound, with leading players across OEMs, processor manufacturers, and operating system providers focused on delivering new AI-capable models in 2024. These initiatives will bolster refresh demand, particularly in the commercial sector,” he said.

The total shipment share of AI-capable PCs, he added, “is expected to be about 19 per cent in 2024. This accounts for all M-series Mac products alongside the nascent offerings expected in the Windows ecosystem. However, as more compelling use-cases emerge and AI functionality becomes an expected feature, Canalys anticipates a fast ramp up in the development and adoption of AI-capable PCs.”

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