While shipments of all tablets, including Apple’s iPads, were down over the first quarter of 2020, Digitimes Research is predicting a big rebound coming up. We should know more about the last three months after Apple announces its earnings later today, but what’s coming up sounds pretty exciting for iPad users and fans.
The effects of COVID on 2020
Frankly, it looks like iPad sales were hit pretty hard over the first quarter, but not as hard as some of the competition. Digitimes projects that the tablet market as a whole is down 33.6% year over year, with name-brand tablets like the iPad down a little less at 29.1%. That translates to 24.7 million tablets sold, but it is still a significant hit. Despite the drop in sales across the market, Apple still maintains its comfortable lead as number one seller of tablets worldwide.
The drop in sales across the tablet market was steep, but there are a few obvious reasons for it. First off, the market for iPads might have been a little off even in ideal conditions. It was long been suspected that Apple would be releasing iPad Pros in March of 2020. A well-known release window often limits sales leading up to the arrival of new hardware.
All that said, we all know what the biggest reason is. First off, when COVID-19 hit China, it disrupted the supply chain for the entire world and caused shortages of some devices, including tablets like the iPad. After that, it was natural for all kinds of discretionary item sales to fall as fears of a worldwide pandemic grew based on the news from China. Then the bottom pretty obviously fell out worldwide, first in China and Southeast Asia, and then progressively in the west as the disease spread and shutdowns came with it.
There were reports of increased sales of iPads in China after quarantines grew across larger areas there. This was due to increased demand for less expensive models like the 10.2″ iPad as education was suddenly moved online due to quarantines. Similar demand for education use has likely spread along with the disease, but this was obviously not enough to offset all of the lost sales related to COVID-19.
A big rebound after a big drop
Digitimes Research believes that Apple’s iPad is ready for a big rebound. They project a 45% increase for the tablet market as a whole in the 2nd Quarter of 2020. This would also be an increase of 9.9% year over year, which shouldn’t be overlooked. Based on supply chain sources, Digitimes reports that Apple is significantly increasing orders for iPads for Q2, expecting to make a large portion of these sales. The projection is that they will continue to hold more than 50% of this share on their own.
This makes sense, as the demand for iPads for use in online education has likely only increased here in the US and in the EU over the the course of April. School is still in session throughout the west and has moved exclusively online. Add to that the addition of trackpad support in iPadOS 13.4, the release of two new iPad Pros and now the release of the new Magic Keyboard, there is certainly much more interest in Apple tablets at the moment. That should translate into increased sales, as well.
Again, we will know more about the last quarter later today, but I can’t help but agree with Digitimes Research’s optimism for Q2. That should lead us right up to WWDC, which will hopefully bring us new features in iPadOS 14 and add to that momentum.