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Tablet Apps Processor Market Gets Boost from COVID-19

by Sravan Kundojjala | Feb 11, 2021

After seeing five consecutive years of shipment decline, the tablet applications processor (AP) market has finally turned the corner in 2020, driven by remote working and learning trends triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite its relatively small size compared to smartphone AP market, the tablet AP market has various suppliers, including Apple, Intel, Qualcomm, MediaTek, Samsung LSI, HiSilicon, Unisoc,  Rockchip and Allwinner among others. The tablet AP market attracts significant interest from all leading players as the convergence of tablet and laptop demands more computing power. In the notebook space, Apple has already started replacing Intel’s Core chip with its Arm-based M1 SoC. Qualcomm and MediaTek are also heavily investing in Windows and Chromebook space to grab share from Intel. Qualcomm’s recent acquisition of NUVIA and NVIDIA-Arm could further heighten the tablet and notebook CPU competition in the coming years.

Strategy Analytics estimates that the tablet AP market posted 20 percent shipment growth and 28 percent revenue growth in Q3 2020. For the third consecutive quarter, the tablet AP market saw shipment and revenue growth. All major tablet AP vendors grew their shipments in Q3 2020.

3Q20 Tab AP

  • Apple continued its dominance in the tablet AP market with 46 percent revenue share in Q3 2020. Apple’s A14/A12x/A12z/A12 Bionic APs gained strong traction during the quarter. The A14 Bionic AP, manufactured in TSMC’s 5 nm process technology, supports up to 11 TOPs of AI performance and features 11.8 billion transistors.
  • Intel ranked number two in the tablet AP market with 17 percent revenue share in Q3 2020. Intel primarily competes in the Windows tablet market with its Core-based microprocessors (Core i5 and i7). All leading tablet OEMs including Asus, HP, Dell, Lenovo, Huawei, Xiaomi and Samsung use Intel’s tablet APs. Despite efforts, Arm-based competitors have not yet made inroads in the Windows tablet ecosystem. However, Arm’s latest Cortex-X1 and A-78 CPU cores look competitive versus Intel’s Core chips.
  • Qualcomm ranked number three with 12 percent share. Qualcomm leverages its smartphone AP technology to compete in the tablet AP market. Qualcomm’s cellular-enabled tablet APs are widely adopted by all leading OEMs, including Huawei and Samsung. Qualcomm’s NUVIA acquisition could fuel its ambition to be a bigger player in the computing space.
  • MediaTek’s tablet AP shipments jumped over 35 percent year-on-year in Q3 2020, driven by holiday quarter demand for Amazon Fire tablets, which feature MediaTek’s chips.
  • Both HiSilicon and Samsung LSI saw strong shipment growth in Q3 2020. HiSilicon and Samsung LSI primarily supply to their in-house customers Huawei and Samsung Mobile, respectively. HiSilicon and Samsung LSI compete in the cellular tablet market.

Despite the growth, the tablet AP market faces a question mark over future growth. How sustainable pandemic-driven demand? Recent market movements such as Apple’s M1, Qualcomm-NUVIA and NVIDIA-Arm lead us to believe that the computing market has an exciting future. The market may undergo a significant transformation over the next two years.

Strategy Analytics has been tracking the mobile processor markets for a long time. Please let us know if you would like to explore this topic in detail.

Sravan Kundojjala (@SKundojjala)

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