Middle East tablet sales dip as consumers prefer to update mobiles

Sales of tablets in the region have fallen by 2 per cent this quarter as consumers forego new models.

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Tablet sales in the region fell 2 per cent in the second quarter of this year, according to a report from International Data Corporation (IDC).

About 3.9 million units were shipped to the Middle East and Africa in the second quarter. IDC attributed the decline to slow summer months and inventory pileups from the first quarter of this year.

Tablet sales are in retreat globally, and IDC noted that the Middle East was still the best performing region worldwide.

In the region, sales are beginning to slow down as consumers become more concerned with replacing their mobile phones with newer models rather than their tablets, retailers said.

“Tablet sales have been challenged this year by the fact that many people who never had a tablet earlier now own one,” said Ashish Panjabi, the chief operating officer at Jacky’s Electronics. “The replacement cycle for those that were sold is starting to resemble that of the PC market, which are replaced every two to three years, as opposed to the smartphone market, which are replaced every one to two years.”

Samsung maintained the market lead, shipping 862,000 units despite suffering a double-digit quarterly decline. Apple, its closest rival, remained in second place with 622,000 of its iPads shipped to the region. Lenovo managed to push its way back up to third position by shipping 420,000 units.

“The tablet market is undoubtedly witnessing a shift in terms of vendor shares,” said Victoria Mendes, a research analyst at IDC Middle East, Turkey and Africa. “Traditional PC vendors such as Lenovo, Asus, Toshiba, HP and Acer are becoming more aggressive in terms of their product launches and pricing strategies and this is driving a considerable shift in consumer demand from low-cost Far-Eastern players.”

Chinese companies such as Lenovo, Huawei and X-touch have managed to lure customers away from the likes of Samsung and Apple with better value for money.

The introduction of phablets – part phone, part tablet – has also dented tablet sales. Over the past year Samsung, Sony, Huawei and Nokia have all launched their own phablets with screen sizes ranging from 5.5 to 6 inches.

“It does have an impact,” said Fouad Charakla, the research manager at IDC Middle East, Turkey and Africa. “If you look at the market, their price segment is very different. Phablets are priced much higher, but there is spillover to some extent.”


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