Tablets power ahead in Africa, but troubles loom

Cape Town - Despite the tablet market cooling in developed markets, in the Middle East and Africa (MEA), people are still rushing to buy the smart devices.

According to the International Data Corporation (IDC), sales in the region grew by 26.1% year on year to 4.43 million units by the end of 2014.

The growth rate is a record as consumers increasingly turn to smart devices.

"There are a couple of reasons behind this growth - in South Africa, Vodacom, one of the biggest telecom operators in the country, introduced its own tablet and shipped approximately 170 000 units during the quarter, while in Turkey, local vendor Casper shipped around 100 000 tablets through the telco channel," said Victoria Mendes, a research analyst at IDC Middle East, Africa, and Turkey.

Samsung continues to lead the sector, shipping 886 000 units in the fourth quarter, while Apple, though suffering an 11% decline, held on to second place with 580 000 units.

Difficult times

Lenovo in third is the fastest mover, doubling its sales with 580 000 shipped, and Asus makes up the top four despite dropping 7% to 206 000 units.

But the good times for tablets are looking increasingly bleak as the success of larger smartphones known as phablets eat into market share.


"Moving forward, the MEA tablet market is expected to see a significant slowdown in growth. This has become particularly evident since the start of the new year, with the MEA market set to experience its first ever quarter-on-quarter decline in Q1 2015 amid intensifying competition from smartphones and phablets," said Fouad Charakla, a research manager at IDC Middle East, Africa, and Turkey.

Additionally, the IDC says that consumers largely keep tablets for longer than smartphones and PCs are making a slow, though measured comeback in the region.

IDC numbers showed that PCs grew 2.8% year on year in the fourth quarter of 2014, building on a slow recovery, marked by the education sector.

"The market's growth was also spurred by several mid- to large-scale education deliveries that took place across the region in Q4 2014, with the largest being in Pakistan,” said Charakla.


It doesn't mean the PC market will return to the near exponential growth rates from years ago, rather the Charakla said that market will remain flat as companies stay loyal to PCs.

"In the longer term, IDC forecasts the PC market to remain almost flat from 2015 through to 2019."


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