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Three is the magic number, unless you're Apple. That's how many million iPad shipments it was down in Q1

Cupertino hamstrung by Chinese factory closures, Samsung tabs up but wider market shrinks: IDC

Under the shadow of a pandemic that forced the shutdown of Apple's production lines in parts of China, global sales of iPads are tumbling rapidly.

Preliminary data collated by number-cruncher IDC for calendar Q1 show Apple's unit shipments into distributors and direct to its stores dropped 30.4 per cent year-on-year to 6.9 million. This, in a market that was itself down 18.1 per cent to 24.6 million.

Apple - whose market share fell to 28 per cent from 32.9 per cent in the prior year quarter - isn't alone in feeling the supply chain squeeze, but its reliance on factories in China to build tablets put it at a disadvantage against Samsung, which uses plants in Vietnam, India, Brazil, Indonesia, and South Korea, as well as China to build its hardware.

Impressive growth in the same quarter a year ago, and "the closure of factories in the first quarter (due to COVID-19) led the company [to] produce fewer units than expected," said the researcher. IDC noted that Apple still rules the roost in the detachable segment, and with the Pro line-up can "cater towards productivity."

According to Apple's own numbers it reported last night, iPads brought in $4.36bn for Q2 of fiscal 2020 ended 28 March, down from $4.87bn in the corresponding quarter a year ago.

Without the crippling production worries, Samsung actually grew 3.9 per cent to 5 million units, meaning it still lags Apply by some distance. Market share went up from 16 per cent to 20.2 per cent. Both detachable and slate models grew.

The launch of the world's first 5G tablet hit the market in Q1, the Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 5G - it is effectively the same model as last year but with a built-in 5G radio. Samsung said, while discussing its Q1 results this week, that the roll out of 5G infrastructure is continuing in China but noted delays elsewhere.

Responding to an analyst's question on the earnings' conference call, JongMin Lee, Samsung veep of the mobile communication business, said the lockdowns in the US and India had slowed the installation of 5G base stations.

"Europe is also seeing a delay in terms of the 5G frequency auctions and commercialisation schedules," he said.

As for third-placed Huawei, hamstrung by US President Trump’s protracted campaign against the organisation over perceived links to the Chinese State, its tablet sales shrank 8.3 per cent to 3 million, said IDC. Huawei "continues to struggle in markets outside China due to political backlash and the lack of Google services," the analyst added.

Reg readers will know that Huawei was put on the banned list of suppliers that American businesses can trade with. It means, for, example, it no longer has access to Google’s Play Store apps.

For the best of the rest, Lenovo nabbed fourth after expanding tablet sales into the channel by 1.9 per cent to 1.6 million and Amazon was up 6.4 per cent to 1.4 million. Every other vendor, collectively, shrank 26.6 per cent to 6.8 million. ®

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