Tablets hit growth wall in Africa

Tablets have education application potential. (Duncan Alfreds, Fin24)
Tablets have education application potential. (Duncan Alfreds, Fin24)

Cape Town – Tablet growth has hit a wall in the Middle East and Africa as phablets and falling commodity prices eat into sales.

According to tracker International Data Corporation (IDC), tablet growth stalled at 0.3% in the second quarter, resulting in shipments of just 4.05 million units.

"The tablet market, which is nearing saturation point in many countries, is being cannibalised by the emergence of smartphones boasting large screen sizes," said Nakul Dogra, a senior research analyst for personal computing, systems, and infrastructure solutions at IDC.

IDC data shows that the tablet market shrunk by 3.2% in the first half of the year, but 17.6% growth in 2-in-1 devices to 50 000 units made up for a shortfall.

In 2014, the tablet market in the region grew by 59.6%, but phablets have curtailed growth as consumers switched.

"The market share of large-screen smartphones is increasing, and the launch of the iPhone 6 plus has only served to spur the trend toward bigger screen sizes in this space," said Dogra.

In many African countries, tablets have carved out a niche in education but declining commodity prices have hurt governments’ ability to purchase new stock.

"With crude oil prices at a six-year low, there has been a reduction in government spending, particularly in oil-dependent countries," said Fouad Rafiq Charakla, program manager for personal computing, systems, and infrastructure solutions at IDC.

Here are the IDC rankings for the top vendors and market share in the region:

Samsung 28%
Lenovo 13.2%
Apple 11.2%

IDC said that Windows powered tablets should spur the market in the third quarter as 2-in-1 devices increase market share the business.

“Businesses will find it easier to incorporate Windows into their existing IT infrastructures and corporate cultures rather than introduce a new OS hub just for tablets, thereby enabling them to run the same OS on both PCs and tablets. We also expect the share of 2-in-1 devices in this market to grow from around 1.2% currently to 3.3% by the end of 2016," said Charakla.

IDC data showed that 2-in-1s will also impact education, with Kuwait and Pakistan expected to buy 175 000 devices in the short term.

"Education remains a key focus for governments in the region, and the reductions we have seen in budgets have typically not hampered government spending on the sector,” Charakla added.

Check out the IDC chart on tablet growth:

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