Apple Ipad 8th Gen W KeyboardSource: Apple

What you need to know

  • Apple's 10.2-inch iPad drove a 13-quarter record in tablet shipments last quarter.
  • However, research suggests tablet shipments could drop sharply through Q1 2021.

A new report says that Apple's 10.2-inch iPad drove tablet shipments to a 13-quarter high at the end of last year.

From Digitimes:

Worldwide tablet shipments climbed to a 13-quarter high of 51.56 million units in the fourth quarter of 2020, according to Digitimes Research. However, shipments will fall 31% sequentially in the first quarter of 2021.

Worldwide tablet shipments in the fourth quarter of 2020 increased 17.6% sequentially and 19.3% on year thanks to seasonal factors and rising demand from stay-at-home activities amid the coronavirus outbreak, Digitimes Research's figures show.

Shipments reportedly rose in part due to concerns about chip shortages expected in the first half of 2021. The other reason for the massive rise was Apple's new eighth-gen iPad, released in September 2020. The entry-level tablet was professed by Apple to be its most popular tablet at the release of the seventh-generation model in 2019.

Whilst Digitimes notes the tablet market traditionally slows in the first quarter of the year, this is to be compounded by the aforementioned chip shortages and could result in a 30% slip sequentially compared to the previous bumper quarter. Digitimes reports that consumers continue to favor larger tablets of 11-inches or more, with that particular size category to grow from a 10% to a 15% share in Q1 over the previous quarter.

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Worldwide tablet shipments reportedly climbed by around 2% to 159.76 million units last year.

Recent rumors suggest Apple may debut a new iPad in the spring featuring Apple's A13 chip and a thinner, lighter body. Apple is also expected to upgrade some of its more premium tablets with mini LED technology this year.