Europe’s tablet trends revealed
by Stuart Wilson, Friday 25 November 2011
Research firm Context reckons that appetite for tablet PCs is starting to climb, with an increasing number of buyers looking beyond Apple products and considering other brands. The research, conducted in partnership with CCS Insight, showed tablet products such as the Asus Eee Transformer and Acer Iconia Tab starting to make an impression in the overall market landscape.
Findings from the October 2011 report showed that improved availability of the iPad 2 helped Apple maintain its spot as the largest tablet supplier in Europe. Sales volumes of tablets were up 20% sequentially in September 2011, maintaining a growth trajectory seen since April 2011.
Sales of Acer and Asus tablets remained constant, but their share fell slightly as the market grew. This implies that while there is demand for non-Apple tablets, the opportunity appears limited at current prices, according to Context and CCS Insight.
Seven-inch tablets accounted for only 2% of total sales volumes in August. This size tablet is expected to increase its market share with the launch of Amazon’s new Kindle Fire. CCS Insight and Context expect network operators to offer tablet and smartphone bundles around Christmas, as new brands start to compete for a share of festive sales.
"Amazon’s Kindle Fire could shake up the tablet market," said Gavin Byrne, principal analyst at CCS Insight. "The Kindle Fire’s keen price, combined with the marketing muscle of Amazon’s website, will attract new audiences to the tablet market. In the longer term, Amazon’s strong media offerings, including streaming movies and TV shows, may threaten Apple’s dominance of this area."
The reports also show that as the tablet landscape becomes more crowded, more and more people are considering price as one of the most important aspects when buying a new tablet.
"Clear price points and propositions are not yet established", said Salman Chaudhry, mobile analyst at Context. "It seems that consumers have tended to play safe and buy on the strength of the Apple brand; however, we are expecting factors like operating systems, apps and interworking with existing devices to become part of the decision-making process."
During the fourth quarter of 2011, the launch of second-generation tablets from the likes of Samsung and Asus will provide a stronger challenge to Apple’s hold on the tablet market. These devices will sport better hardware and some will offer version 4 of Android, dubbed Ice Cream Sandwich.
Competition in the non-Apple tablet market is expected to increase strongly in the fourth quarter, according to the report. Manufacturers are expected to cut prices heavily in a bid to boost sales and, in some cases, to clear stock from distribution channels. In addition, more and more operators will bundle tablets with smartphones for the Christmas period. Context and CCS Insight do not expect Windows 8 tablets to have any effect on the market until the third or fourth quarter of next year.
Senior executives from Context are participating in the action-packed conference programme at DISTREE EMEA 2012, giving delegates access to the latest channel research and insight into business trends across the region.
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