Chinese Tablet Vendors Post Strong Growth Amid Global Slump

China’s Huawei, Lenovo show strong tablet shipment growth in fourth quarter of 2023 amid global market slump, as Apple iPad retains top sales spot

Chinese vendors led by US-sanctioned Huawei showed strong growth in the 2023 tablet market, even as global sales declined, according to analysts Canalys and IDC.

Huawei, in particular, posted “stellar” shipment growth of 95 percent in the fourth quarter of the year compared to the same period a year earlier, becoming the third-biggest tablet vendor worldwide after Apple and Samsung, Canalys said.

The Shenzhen-based company also retook the top smartphone sales spot in China for the first two weeks of this year, in spite of being under US sanctions since 2019, according to separate figures from Counterpoint.

Canalys said Huawei sold about 2.8 million tablets in the December quarter.


‘Innovation gap’

China-based Lenovo also posted strong growth of 15 percent for the quarter, gaining more than 2 points of market share year-on-year, but dropped to fourth place after Huawei, according to Canalys.

Overall tablet shipments fell 11 percent in the quarter, for a total of 37.8 million units, for a full-year 2023 total of 135.3 million tablets shipped, 10 percent down from 2022.

China and India were key markets for tablet adoption, helping to counter the “prevailing stagnation in other parts of the world”, Canalys said.

As with many other forms of personal technology, tablet sales spiked in 2020 during Covid-19 lockdowns but have slumped over the past three years, according to the firm’s figures.

Canalys also cited an “innovation gap” between tablets and other personal computing devices, with on-device AI integration, for instance, trailing behind PCs and smartphones.

canalys tablet shipments 2023
Image credit: Canalys

Foldable tablets

“Bringing this functionality across devices will be crucial for vendors aiming to deliver a unified and seamless experience on ecosystems,” said Canalys analyst Kieren Jessop.

The company said new models announced by TCL and Lenovo at CES 2024 and anticipated updates to Apple’s iPad portfolio early this year would help provide opportunities for fresh tablet sales.

Jessop said this year’s expected foldable tablet form factors, while unlikely to ship in large numbers, would provide “an opportunity for vendors to showcase user-experiences benefits for content consumption, learning and productivity”.

Apple maintained its position as the top tablet vendor in the fourth quarter in spite of a 24 percent decline in shipments, with 14.8 million iPads shipped, followed by Samsung with 6.8 million units shipped, down 11 percent year-on-year.

Amazon took fifth place with a 44 percent annual decline and 2 million tablets shipped globally.