iPad Sales Fell in Q2, But It Still Dominates

Posted on July 31, 2021 by Paul Thurrott in Android, Hardware, iPadOS, Mobile with 22 Comments

The market researchers at Canalys claim that iPad sales fell slightly in Q2 2021, but the platform still easily dominates the tablet market, with a 36.3 percent market share. More to the point, Apple outsold its three closest competitors—Samsung, Lenovo, and Amazon—combined.

“The tablet market has truly put to rest all predictions of a slow demise,” Canalys research analyst Himani Mukka said. “We have now seen a fifth consecutive quarter of year-on-year growth and the industry has many reasons to be optimistic for the future.”

Apple sold an estimated 14.185 million iPads in Q2, a drop of 0.5 percent from the year-ago quarter, when it sold 14.249 million units. I would call that flat year-over-year (YOY) growth. Apple now controls 36.3 percent of the tablet market, down from 38 percent a year ago.

Samsung sold 7.996 million tablets in Q2, with a growth of 13.8 percent, and it ended the quarter with a 20.5 percent market share. Lenovo came in third with 4.688 million units sold, 75 percent growth, and 12 percent market share. And Amazon was in fourth place with 3.118 million units sold and 8.4 percent market share; sales of Amazon tablets declined by 1.5 percent in the quarter.

Looking ahead, Canalys says that the tablet market faces “an inevitable slowdown in the coming quarters,” but that strong business sales could help overcome flagging consumer interest. The firm also sees stronger integration between the tablet and PC, with smoother workflow transitions between multiple devices, especially with Apple’s products.

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Comments (22)

22 responses to “iPad Sales Fell in Q2, But It Still Dominates”

  1. digiguy

    It's strange how Macrumors says, based in part on the same source, that "iPad sales continued to surge last quarter". Sure they may be biased, and the titles shows it ("Apple Shipped More Tablets Than Samsung and Amazon Did Combined Last Quarter") but how can they report opposite results...

    • bhofer

      I don’t think the results are necessarily the opposite. Macrumors’ article is based on estimates from IDC, and Paul’s article is based from Canalys. Since Apple doesn’t release the total units sold themselves, these researchers are just estimating what the numbers might be. IDC happened to estimate that they sold slightly more than the previous quarter, and Canalys estimated that they sold slightly less. So I guess pick the research firm that fits your angle? Either way, they still sold more than the competitors, which I think is the main takeaway from these two articles.

    • sykeward

      The only iPad number that Apple reports anymore is revenue: that increased from $6.6bil to $7.4bil, which is a pretty healthy increase.


      Beyond that, everyone is guessing which is why the stories are different. Macrumors was reporting the IDC numbers—they estimated that iPad sales increased 3.5% from 12.5mil to 12.9mil. Strategy Analytics repotted that “iPadOS/iOS device” (who knows what this even means) sales increased 11% to 15.8mil. Canalys, who Paul cited above, is an outlier as the only firm that reported a unit sales decline (albeit a small one) of -0.5%.

  2. behindmyscreen

    It's so dominant that I keep having to tell my users to stop buying them if they want to use the EMR in a tablet format because the vendor doesn't support use of their Citrix delivered software on iPads. I tell them to buy a surface (for about the same price)....No one listens and then they get upset when they waste their budget.

  3. Daekar

    This is yet another market that is completely inexplicable to me. Years after this product category was really established, I still have no idea why people bother buying them. They're not nearly as convenient as a laptop for actually doing anything, not nearly big enough to get the big screen experience you get on something 24"+, and not nearly as portable as your phone is. I still cannot figure out what people are doing where this the optimal form factor, because it certainly isn't for anything that I do.

    • 2ilent8cho

      Since you are posting on this website I'm going to guess like me you either work in IT or are an IT enthusiast. The iPad appeals to those who are not us. My Grandmother, Mother, Uncle , Aunt 10 years ago all had a Windows based laptop (and I would spend most weekends removing/fixing something they had done). Since about 2014 they have all had iPads and that is all they use. They can read their email, shop on amazon, play games, read the news, read eBooks, watch YouTube, view photos and change energy provider all without the complications of house keeping a desktop class OS. It does everything they want and does it well.


      In other places such as Education the iPads work very well as 1:1 , the battery life, the instant on, the ease of management and maintenance which I know first hand managing 1750 iPads in an 1:1 education setting.


      Personally I don't really need an iPad as I only really use it as a Kindle or something bigger to use than my phone when on holiday. Day to day I just go for my MacBook or iPhone to do anything.

    • cavalier_eternal

      For uses that mostly just need email, web browser and basic office needs (word processing, calendar …) iPads are totally capable. I use one when I travel because it is a lot lighter, has great battery life and is just easier to use on a plane. I take I little bit of a hit on multitasking but the trade off is fine for a week or work.

      • Daekar

        This is really a great example of how diverse people's needs are, even at work. As someone who lives with two large monitors at home and at work, full keyboard and mouse, even stepping down to a 14" laptop results in a major decrease in productivity. The lack of the number pad alone is huge, let alone everything else. It is really amazing to me that you can efficiently get things done with that tool.

        When we went to Italy, I took a Bluetooth keyboard and journaled on my phone. I got some funny looks but that writing is some of the most important writing, emotionally, that I have ever done and the phone was fine for it. If course, when I got home I cleaned it up and put it together with photos on a big screen, but the meat of the work was on a Galaxy S7.

        • cavalier_eternal

          It’s totally about the type of work. My daily (home + office) is a 15 inch MacBook with an external display. I have a keyboard and mouse that I will sometimes use. When I travel for work my work load is more focused and that is what allows me to get by with an iPad Pro. If I am going to be gone for an extended period of time I take the MBP and iPad because I can sue the iPad on flights more easily and it works as a second display when I get where I’m going. So, for me it is a great productivity tool. All that would go out the window if I needed something sort of software that wasn’t on the iPad.


          I have no way to back this up but my sense is most office workers don’t really need a tone of computing power or even a huge amount of screen real estate. I also think this point is missed on people that review tablets. Technical reviewers tend to have a higher level of computing need so they don’t see the point. Paul is a good example of a reviewer not getting it and sorry to pick on Paul but he kinda made himself the poster boy for not getting the iPad with the whole iDud thing.

  4. Truffles

    Three decimal places of accuracy and not a single reference to error margins.


    Snort.

    • bkkcanuck

      They don't probably know what they don't know. These numbers are not released by Apple, so they try to compile them from other sources (Apple won't be selling their receipts, and I am not sure the Apple credit card deal (which may give you a discount) with Goldman allows them to sell this information. If the Apple Card was available locally, I would probably use it and my Apple purchases would go on it - so based on my statistical sample group of one... I think there would be a disproportionate number of purchases on the Apple Card. To summarize, I think the error margin would be larger than normal. Apple has reported sales of iPad were up 12% (though that is revenue not unit sales).

  5. hrlngrv

    Arithmetic challenged. Emphasis added below.


    | Apple outsold its three closest competitors—Samsung, Lenovo, and Amazon—combined.


    | Apple sold an estimated 14.185 million iPads in Q2


    | Samsung sold 7.996 million . . . Lenovo came in third with 4.688 million . . . Amazon was in fourth place with 3.118 million units sold


    On a combined basis, Samsung, Lenovo and Amazon sold 15.802 million with is, in fact, greater than the 14.185 million Apple sold, by 11.4%.


    Odd meaning of combined you're using.

  6. prebengh

    Microsoft sales of Surface (all types) is between 1 - 2 billion USD per quarter. At an average of 1000 USD/pcs that makes the sales between 1 - 2 million devices, which is not near 32% of the market for tablets. And I don’t think there are many Surface like devices from other manufacturers.

    • wright_is

      There are several Surface-like devices from other manufacturers. There are also a lot of manufacturers making Android and Windows pure tablets for business market. We use a lot of ruggedised tablets (thick, rubber casing, waterproof and shock proof), with built in barcode scanners (laser scanners than can scan codes at up to 3M distance or more). In industry, there are a lot of uses for specialised tablets running Windows, Linux or Android, with bespoke software.


      Ours are used on the production lines for picking chemicals out of stores, for example. They integrate directly with the industrial scales we use and with our ERP solution. They need to be robust - they often get dropped, for example, and some chemicals are fluid and corrosive, so the casings have to be fully sealed.


      (I once had to look after a chemical factory, they had a sulfuric acid store - open air, to disperse fumes - and the 18 month old PC was unreliable, upon opening up the (rusty) case, parts of the motherboard had been eaten away and most of the contacts to the hard drive, Ethernet connector etc. were eaten away. Heck, the hard drive had holes in it! But the PC was in a separate cabin and never came into direct contact with the acide, I don't want to know what the workers' lungs looked like!

      • hrlngrv

        | open air, to disperse fumes


        Bad as that experience may have been, be thankful you've never had to visit industrial pork farms in the US.

    • cnc123

      It definitely seems like there are fewer Surface-type devices available from PC manufacturers as of last year, when I was looking for a laptop or Windows tablet.

  7. SvenJ

    Seems like a difficult statistic to break out. You could also say 63.7 percent of the tablet market is not iPadOS. So is Apple dominating? It doesn't really define tablet here. Does that include Surface and Surface-ish devices? Or is it just iPadOS and Android. If Both Windows and Android and they were evenly divided, that's almost 32% for each. That's darn close to 36.3, but you have to figure Android tablets exceed iPadOS. So what is more important? That Apple sells more than Samsung, or Amazon, or whoever, or that iPadOS sells more, or less, than Android?

    • constable

      You are overthinking it. Surface is a 2-in-1 compuyer, not a tablet and Apple is dominating the tablet space, both in sheer numbers by vendor and by quality and functionality.


    • cavalier_eternal

      Which is most important? If the intent is to simply have your OS on more tablets then having the largest OS market share is going to be most important. If your intent is to have a larger revenue stream then selling more tablets is going to be more important.

  8. hrlngrv

    It seems that Canalys doesn't include Windows tablets as tablets. That means there are iOS (iPad) tablets, Android tablets (including Amazon Kindles), and maybe a very small number of tablets running other OSes. Android tablets combined sell in higher numbers than iPads. That isn't surprising given the number of commercial use tablets like those on the back of airplane seats. Android dominates the market for tablets used only for in-house apps. Probably no where near as lucrative as iPads. Raises the question how many Android tablets are sold for personal use, maybe in total fewer than iPads. If so, that'd raise a different question: should there be separate personal and business use tablet categories? It'd also imply Android tablets aren't going away no matter how much of a lock Apple has on the personal use tablet market.

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