Usually reserved for the iPhone, Apple's September event was all about the company's hidden champions this year. Aside from the latest Apple Watch, Tuesday's pre-taped event also included the official unveiling of a re-designed iPad Air, the mid-range tablet in Apple's line-up. Both Apple Watch and iPad share the misfortune of being overshadowed by the iPhone despite being industry-leading in their own right.
According to estimates from IDC, Apple shipped 49.9 million iPads last year, up from 43.3 million the year before. That's more than the 48.8 million devices shipped by the company's three largest competitors combined, illustrating the Californian dominance in the tablet market. As our chart illustrates, Apple bucked the negative trend last year, growing shipments by 15 percent, despite a 1-percent decline in global tablet shipments overall.
With many people working and/or studying from home during the COVID-19 pandemic, the tablet market returned to growth in the second quarter of 2020. This could mark a window of opportunity for manufacturers, after tablets had suffered from the rise of ever-growing smartphones in recent years.