What’s wrong with the MEA tablet market?
* Demand for tablet computers shrinking
* People exchange tablets for Smartphones
* MEA tablet shipments dropped nearly 15 per cent
* Samsung continues to lead, followed by Lenovo
Have users in Middle East and Africa given up on tablets? New industry figures show that the demand for the handheld devices is shrinking significantly as people are increasingly exchanging them for smartphones.
The region’s tablet market declined 24.2 per cent year on year (Y–o–Y) in the final quarter of 2016 to total 3.07 million units, according to the figures released by leading market research firm International Data Corporation (IDC) on Monday.
IDC’s Middle East and Africa Quarterly Tablet Tracker shows that for 2016 as a whole, tablet shipments in MEA dropped 14.7 per cent Y–o–Y to total 13.8m units, which is in line with global tablet market’s 15.6 per cent decline over the same period.
“Tasks that were previously performed on tablets are increasingly moving to bigger–screen smartphones, so tablets are becoming redundant in the consumer ecosystem of gadgets,” says Nakul Dogra, senior research analyst for client devices at IDC MEA.
“Indeed, consumers are now investing more time and money into smartphones than tablets, which has led to a slowdown of tablet markets around the world, not just here in MEA. That said, there are still countries in Africa that harbour scope for further tablet penetration,” he adds.
Samsung is king
Samsung continued to lead the MEA tablet market in Q4 2016 with unit share of 17.6 per cent, despite experiencing a significant decline in shipments of –28.0 per cent on the previous quarter and –43.6 per cent on the corresponding period of 2015.
Lenovo remained in second place, increasing its share to 10.8 per cent from 9.9 per cent in the last three months of 2015.
Apple climbed into third spot, capturing 8.7 per cent share despite suffering a 41.2 per cent YoY decline in shipments.
UAE vendor seizes market
Surprisingly, UAE-based vendor i-Life rose to fourth place in the rankings, with a market share of 7.4 per cent, spurred by the popularity of its low-cost offerings.
Huawei’s shipments fell by 39.6 per cent YoY in Q4 2016 to account for a market share of just 5.1 per cent, a considerable drop from its 13.5 per cent share in the previous quarter.
“With the lack of any noteworthy innovation taking place in much of the tablet space, there is little reason for the majority of consumers to upgrade to newer-generation tablets,” says Fouad Rafiq Charakla, senior research manager for client devices at IDC MEA.
He continues: “This is prolonging the refreshment cycle for tablets in the region and causing an inevitable slowdown in the market.”
What’s in store?
IDC has revised its tablet market forecast downwards after taking into account the challenging environment. It expects the market to decline –8.1 per cent YoY in 2017 to total 12.76m units.
The longer-term forecast has also been revised downwards, with IDC now expecting the market to decline at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of –0.2 per cent over the 2016–2021 period to total 13.64m units in 2021.
“e-tailers are expected to grow strongly in the coming years,” says Dogra. “Increasingly, local retailers are investing more in the online channel. Also, newer players are expected to enter the market in the coming year, which is going to further intensify competition in the online retail segment.”
“The above factors, coupled with aggressive pricing, will further drive the growth of the e-tailer segment, with IDC expecting that by the year 2021, 12 per cent of tablets will be sold through e-tailers in the MEA region,” he concludes.