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In a crisis, users have kept taking the tablets

Canalys has tracked stellar growth in the demand for tablets as users react to changing conditions forced by Covid-19

The year 2020 will go down in history for many reasons, but one of those will be the way the PC market bounced back from years in the doldrums to prove its value in a time of crisis.

Last month, channel analyst Canalys described the PC market as enjoying its best time for a decade and some of the leading vendors in the market have agreed, with Lenovo using its second-quarter results as an opportunity to talk about strong growth.

As well as breathing life into the PC segment, market conditions this year have also seen a chance for tablets to prove those predicting the demise of the form factor wrong. It has also been a period when Chromebooks hit the market for many users struggling to get connected during the pandemic.

An analysis of the fortunes of the PC market, including tablets, in the third quarter from Canalys showed shipments climbing by 23% to hit 124.5 million units. Lenovo led the way, followed by Apple, HP, Dell and Samsung.

The detachables segment, which includes tablets and notebooks, increased by 88%. The general consensus has been that tablets have fallen out of favour and have been in decline, but customers stuck at home in the lockdown have embraced the form factor, with sales of products up by 43% year on-year.

“Tablets have come back from the dead as they deliver the perfect balance of mobility and computing power at a wide range of price points during such a crucial time,” said Canalys analyst Victoria Li.

“Tablets are a natural choice for first-time PC users who want something uncomplicated and affordable to work with. The natural extension of Android and iOS on tablets makes it easy for parents, students and educators who dabbled with extended remote learning for the first time in their lives and prefer the ease of installing apps that these platforms offer.”

The commercial market has also used tablets as a way of providing staff with a connection back into the business, and the prospects for sales on this front remain good.

“Another contributing factor is the role these tablets play in the accelerated pace of digital transformation that big and small companies are undertaking,” said Li. “Connected tablets allow businesses to deploy endpoints at crucial stages in their customer and salesforce journeys, thereby helping these businesses ride the storm. Tablets will find themselves at the heart of every digital transformation going forward.”

But tablets were not the only bright spot and another product that has seen solid demand in Q3 was the Chromebook segment, which delivered growth thanks to the popularity of the technology with those in education.

“Chromebooks emerged as the centerpiece of the education segment’s digital response to the Covid-19 pandemic,” said Canalys analyst Ishan Dutt, who added that there was also decent interest from corporate customers.

“Chromebooks have played an important part in satisfying consumers’ and SMBs’ needs to get their hands on a basic computing device,” he added. “Although production and distribution ramped up, the huge surge in demand led to orders being unfulfilled, and Canalys expects high shipment volumes to continue into the start of 2021.”

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