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Microsoft breaks into tablet top five

Microsoft banked on mobile productivity becoming a big segment for tablets, and reaped the rewards by becoming one of the top 5 tablet makers by shipments, according to Strategy Analytics

Microsoft cashed in on the need for mobile productivity devices with its Surface portfolio refresh and joined the ranks of the top global tablet vendors for the first time. Meanwhile, most vendors experienced setbacks in securing components, due to the global chip shortage and persistently high demand.

According to a new report by Strategy Analytics, supply constraints held market growth to -25% year-on-year. Signs point to an easing of supply constraints in Q1 2022, but it remains to be seen whether that demand waits for tablet vendors to recover or if customers have moved on.

Eric Smith, director of connected computing at Strategy Analytics says, “Last year’s pre-vaccine holiday quarter was a tough one to compare against and when you add on the severe supply constraints impacting tablet vendors, it added up to a disappointing quarter. The maddening thing is, demand far exceeded supply at the end of 2021, holding back higher revenues for everyone. There are signs that supply shortages are easing already in 2022, but we are not guiding this situation to end until after summer.”

Chirag Upadhyay, industry analyst at Strategy Analytics says, “For the entire year, total tablet shipments fell just -3% to 183.1 million units. Demand was steadily high through the year, but supply constraints caught up to all vendors by the end of the year. This is due to two factors. First, vendors prioritized notebook production to meet work-from-home and now hybrid work demand. Second, it was difficult to juggle sourcing components that tablets and smartphones share.”

Strategy Analytics provided the following information on key points of the report:

  • Apple shipments (sell-in) fell -22% year-on-year to 14.6 million units in Q4 2021, with worldwide market share climbing 1 percentage point to 31% as the vendor outpaced the market
  • While remaining the top Android vendor, Samsung tablet shipments declined -28% year-on-year in Q4 2021 to 7.3 million units; market share declined by -0.7 percentage points to 16% during the same period
  • Amazon performed the best among Android vendors with its deep holiday discounts; shipments declined -13% to 5.8 million units and market share grew 1.7 percentage points to 12%
  • Lenovo tablet shipments broke a nine-quarter streak of growth to fall -17% during Q4 2021 to reach 4.6 million units; market share climbed 1 percentage point year-on-year to 10%
  • For the first time ever, Microsoft cracked the top five global vendor list with tablet shipments totalling 1.9 million units and a marginal -1% year-on-year growth rate; market share increased by 1 percentage point to 4%

The full report from Strategy Analytics’ Connected Computing Devices (CCD) service, Preliminary Global Tablet Shipments and Market Share: Q4 2021 Results can be found here.

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