Global tablet shipments increased rapidly year-on-year in Q1, with the rate of growth estimated at its highest since 2013 as demand for devices to support remote working during the Covid-19 (coronavirus) pandemic boosted sales.

Reports from Canalys and IDC both pointed to “outstanding growth” in Q1, which the former estimated as increasing 51.8 per cent to 39.7 million units. The latter had shipments at 39.9 million, up 55.2 year-on-year. This, IDC noted, was the largest growth rate in the segment since Q3 2013.

In terms of vendors, Canalys reported Apple maintaining its lead at the top of the market with a 38.2 per cent share, followed by Samsung (20 per cent), Lenovo (9.5 per cent), Amazon (8.7 per cent) and Huawei (5.4 per cent).

The analyst company had the top two’s market shares similar to Q1 2020 with Huawei the notable mover, as in the smartphone market. The troubled Chinese vendor’s share dipped six per cent during the 12 months between the reports, which saw Lenovo displace it in the top three.

IDC’s preliminary results had the top vendors in the same order but estimated Apple with a smaller lead over Samsung and Huawei with a less sharp decline, but still falling to fifth.

Commenting on its report, Canalys research analyst Himani Mukka said: “The tablet market continues to defy expectations with the strength of its comeback.”

“Even beyond the traditionally strong holiday season, vendors are seeing elevated demand as the need for affordable computing power and connectivity persists,” she added. “At a time when the overall PC market is facing a supply crunch, the vendors that have strong tablet offerings have been able to squeeze out even greater gains from the increased demand for screen access and remote productivity brought about by the pandemic.”

Beyond the pandemic, the analyst company added it expected the upward trajectory of tablets to continue to support digital transformation in business and education.