Smartphone boom hits MEA tablet industry hard

Pile of smart phones

ALKESH SHARMA / Emirates Business

The smartphone boom — triggered by affordable smart handsets priced as low as US$80, and dual-SIM devices — is apparently putting a heavy toll on the traditional slate tablets in the region.
A recent research revealed that tablet shipment in the Middle East and Africa (MEA) region has dipped by 3.1 percent year-on-year in 2015. Total shipment included only 16.2 million units in this region whereas globally the tablet market declined by 9.9 percent.
International Data Corporation (IDC) in its latest research report has stated that last quarter of 2015 was the real testing period for tablet market in the MEA. This industry shrunk by nearly 8.8 percent year-on-year in Q4 of last year to total 4.05 million units.
Nakul Dogra, a senior research analyst with IDC, Middle East, Africa, and Turkey, said, “The largest vendors are feeling the pinch of saturation in many countries across the Middle East, and low consumer confidence in oil-dependent economies is driving down demand,”
“In addition, the bigger screen sizes of today’s smartphones continue to cannibalise spending on traditional slate tablets,” pointed out Dogra, whose areas of research focused on personal computing, systems, and infrastructure
Smartphone shipments to the MEA saw a year-on-year growth of 83 percent in 2014. However, the Gulf Cooperation Council’s (GCC’s) smartphone market expanded 31.8 percent year-on-year during that period. Smartphones, coming
with rate-tag under $80 accounted for over 15 percent of the market
in 2015.
However, detachable tablets presented a silver lining in MEA as their shipments grew by a whopping 95.4 percent year-on-year in 2015 and IDC has predicted a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 30.3 percent through 2020.
“Detachables primarily run on Windows, and end-users are increasingly looking at these devices as an alternative for traditional notebooks. Adoption rates are currently still low, but demand for detachable tablets is going to increase exponentially over the coming years from enterprises and consumers alike,” said Fouad Rafiq Charakla, senior program manager for personal computing, systems, and infrastructure solutions at IDC.
It is expected that the growth of detachables will further drive the growth of the Windows operating system at the expense of Android and iOS.
IDC has revised its forecast for the 2016 MEA tablet market downwards and now expects a total of 16.52 million units to be shipped for the year, representing a year-on-year growth of 2 percent.
“Consumer sentiment is expected to remain low, particularly in oil-dependent economies. Africa is expected to grow faster when compared to the Middle East, due to the current lower tablet penetration rates in Africa leaving more room for growth,” stated Charakla.

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