Report: Apple Extends Its Lead in the Tablet Market

Posted on February 1, 2020 by Paul Thurrott in iPadOS, Mobile with 21 Comments

Despite falling iPad revenues in the previous quarter, Apple was still able to extend its lead in the market thanks to lower-cost models and its more hapless competitors. That’s according to a new marketshare report from IDC, which shows that the worldwide tablet market fell 0.6 percent, year-over-year, to 43.5 million units. Full year tablet sales were 144 million units in 2019, IDC claims, a decline of 1.5 percent YOY.

“Apple maintained its lead in the holiday quarter, growing 22.7 percent year over year,” IDC noted. “The new iPad launched last quarter accounted for nearly 65 percent of their shipments and helped the company gain share to 36.5 percent, compared to 29.6 percent last year.”

Apple’s share of this market is bigger than that of its three biggest competitors: Samsung shipped 7 million units in the quarter, good for 16.1 percent marketshare, ahead of both Huawei (4 million units, 9.1 percent) and Amazon (3.3 million units, 7.6 percent). What all of these companies, save Apple, have in common is falling sales: Samsung’s tablet sales declined 7.4 percent YOY, while Huawei shipments fell 2.8 percent and Amazon tablet sales cratered by 29 percent.

Lenovo came in fifth place, with 2.5 million units sold and 5.8 percent marketshare, a gain of 8.3 percent YOY.

For the full year 2019, the top five tablet makers mirrored the quarterly top five list, with iPad (49.9 million units) controlling 34.6 percent overall, compared to 15.1 percent for Samsung (21.7 million), 9.8 percent for Huawei (14.1 million), 9 percent for Amazon (13 million), and 5.9 percent for Lenovo (8.5 million).

For these numbers, IDC counted both slate and detachable tablets, but not convertible PCs “that have keyboards that can either flip, spin, or twist.”

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Comments (25)

25 responses to “Report: Apple Extends Its Lead in the Tablet Market”

  1. madthinus

    Apple is the only company that ships a performant tablet with a modern optimised OS that is tailored for device. They also have solid support for the form factor in their eco system.

    • RobertJasiek

      In reply to madthinus:

      Modern OS?

      • It was born later than some other OSs, but who cares?
      • It is light compared to a desktop OS consuming more storage.
      • Its basic UI is more touch-friendly than tiny buttons of desktop windows. However, like all OSs, it still lacks rejection of accidental first touches near the edges.
      • It hates mice.

      Optimised OS?

      • See above for light and touch-friendly.
      • It is the contrary to optimised for many file operations. E.g., mark all is often missing so that one needs to operate one file after another instead of for all files together. As a consequence, quite a few important tasks are impossible in practice so the device cannot be used for them at all.
      • Having to share files between apps slows down work and wastes storage.
      • Local file transfer is still a nightmare.
      • File types are not generally supported but depend on the (missing) functionalities of (unavailable) apps for them.
      • Standard apps cannot be changed so their bugs prevent certain actions entirely. E.g., download a PDF might not work when Safari only downloads 2 of 200 pages.
      • It takes ages to fix quite a few bugs.
      • Quite a few OS updates dramatically reduce battery life!
      • Updates for only 5 years is planned obsolescence.

      Tailored for device?

      • Rather tailored as Walled Garden.

      Only company?

      • How about Windows RT and Windows 10 tablet mode? I know, I know, not perfect and all, but at least one cannot say that only Apple would have been trying.
  2. Jeffsters

    I find the comments here, and in the Apple earnings post, amusing. If you go back in various iPad threads for years Win and Android fanbois would go on and on about how Apple and the iPad were going to die without a low cost version. Apple delivers, increases its market share, takes a hit on revenue, and the reaction is Apple and the iPad are going to die. I give!

    • Paul Thurrott

      Well. The iPad *was* going to die without a low-cost model. And Apple did change to address that. It worked, but now they're selling more units and making less money.
  3. ebraiter

    Samsung seems to be sticking with the upscale tables - and too many models of them - instead of a more balanced choices.

  4. red.radar

    Pardon the football analogy. I think of the iPad and Apple Watch like the offensive line with the iPhone as quarterback.


    The iPad and more so the Apple Watch keep people invested in the ecosystem which protects direct challenges to the iPhone. It acts like a buffer and gives Apple time to adapt its flagship golden goose to competitive threats.


    people are less likely to switch once they have invested into the ecosystem in other products. Such as watches, tablets and even content.


    iPad gaining market share is good news for the iPhone although indirectly.

  5. dallasnorth40

    All those bowing to iPads have obviously never seen or touched a new Samsung tablet. In no way is Apple hardware better, perhaps its just as good, but its not better. Samsung tabs are unbelievably light, fast, and the screens are drop dead gorgeous. Sure, ios has more tablet optimized apps. But, if you can't find what you need in the Play Store, I really don't know what you're looking for.


    So sad, that even here on Thurott.com, you can't escape the legions of people apparently lobotomized by Apple.

    • Paul Thurrott

      That's offensive and incorrect. It doesn't matter how good the hardware is if the software ecosystem isn't even in the same league, which it isn't.
    • RobertJasiek

      In reply to dallasnorth40:

      Whether one likes displays on Samsung tablets depends on one's preferred criteria. I want no / low reflectance, which they don't have. Same for IPS because OLED has some serious disadvantages, which might not become apparent initially, such as burning in.

      Not finding in the play store? I have never had an Android device so cannot be sure. Presumably, I would find powerful file tools, which are a pipe dream on iOS. However, from various reports by others and quick web searches, I'd be surprised if I found what I use under Windows: capable editors for diagrams of a particular (not so rare) game and particular graphic filters.

      The more fundamental questions, however, remain how to protect Android from Google and then create security as good as a well configured Windows or Linux. This goes beyond what a play store can offer. Did I mention security updates too short by a decade?

      Besides, I am not delighted by Samsung's proprietary add-ons on Android to booting and OS. Furthermore, the battery life could be better.

      If nothing of this is your concern, I understand that you find Samsung tablets ok. Maybe you understand now why not everybody does.

  6. Dryloch

    Speaking as a Galaxy Note owner, Apple should have closer to 90% of the tablet market. Android tablets have never been even close to catching up to Apple. Amazon tablets are great for kids but other than that Apple should be anyone’s first choice.

    • RobertJasiek

      In reply to Dryloch:

      Sorry, but saying that Apple tablets should be anyone’s first choice overlooks all their Walled Garden restrictions and limited scope for productive use. For certain light consumption tasks, iPads may be the first choice. For other tasks incl. other light consumption tasks, other tablets are better.

  7. txag

    It’s not the hardware; it’s how integrated the HW and SW are to make the user experience smooth. I would like to see Apple make the iPad Pro more powerful and more like a laptop, but not at the expense of the integrated smoothness of the user experience. So I’m willing to wait for the day when I can retire my MacBook Air for the latest iPad Pro. No rush.

    • digiguy

      In reply to txag:

      It's also hardware... Ipad are also loved because they are light, powerful and have great battery life and stand-by time. Microsoft has nothing to compete hardware-wise.... The surface pro is too heavy and bulky to be a good tablet... The surface go is too weak and has too short battery life... They would need a surface pro x mini to compete with the ipad pro 11. They should put the same chip as the pro x, speakers as good as the ipad pro ones and a big enough battery. They will not do it...

    • RobertJasiek

      In reply to txag:

      In principle, good integration of HW and SW is important indeed. However, iPads do not fulfil this in general. The OS is light enough for the hardware but the OS and SW functionality has restrictions at all, too many and worse for non-mainstream use. None of this is necessary for good integration of HW and SW but mainly a consequence of Apple's Walled Garden policy and failure to develop the OS as well and quickly as the HW.

  8. Stooks

    Lets be honest. Android is basically a junky OS with a wild west of krapptastic apps in general. An Android tablet is all that X10. No body wants an Android tablet. Tablets in general are not the killer device they once were. Get an iPad consume content until it can't anymore, buy a new one....once every 5 years.

    • RobertJasiek

      In reply to Stooks:

      You don't advertise buying new iPads just because the old ones are bricked by missing continued OS updates, do you? iPads continue to work beyond their OS update window.

    • thurottgem

      In reply to Stooks:

      It's unfortunate that Google really hasn't done much to push Android tablets, but I really think Huawei, Samsung, Amazon, and Xiaomi have done pretty decent jobs at making them.


      I have an iPad Air 2 that I sometimes use and I prefer Android over iOS for how much less locked down it is. There's no denying that iOS apps are better in quality, though.

  9. angusmatheson

    I don’t understand why the surface pro isn’t counted as a tablet.

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