Middle East and Africa tablet market to fall for third quarter in a row

Detachable tablets

The Middle East and Africa (MEA) tablet market is expected to decline for the third quarter in a row as consumers are reluctant to replace their existing devices and majority of the tasks that were previously performed on tablets have now shifted to bigger smartphones, reports Gulf News.

The MEA tablet market contracted 8.8 per cent year-on-year in the fourth quarter of last year, 12.3 per cent in the first quarter of this year and an expected 9.13 per cent in the second quarter which ends on June 30.

Fouad R. Charakla, Senior Research Manager at International Data Corporation (IDC), told Gulf News that all vendors are feeling the pinch from the economic slowdown, low tourist inflow and low oil prices.

“Considering the thin margins on the lower-end products that account for the bulk of demand, vendors are unwilling to offer any further support to channels, leading to a decline in shipments across the region. As certain entry-level tablet models are available at price points below $50, key players are under intense pressure to maintain their sell outs,” he said.

Nakul Dogra, a senior research analyst for personal computing, systems and infrastructure solutions at IDC, said that the lengthening of tablet replacement cycles have inevitably had a negative impact on overall demand.

“Compounding the issue is the fact that consumer sentiment and business activity are both being hampered by low crude oil prices, particularly in the countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). Meanwhile, the continued depreciation of key African currencies against the dollar — including the Nigerian naira, the South African rand, and the Egyptian pound — has also acted as an inhibitor, as poor exchange rates make tablets more expensive.”

Detachable tablets

One bright spot amid the market’s overall slowdown is the growth of detachable tablets (tablets that can be used as a laptop/tablet hybrid), which are steadily gaining popularity in the region following the launch of various new devices in this product category.

Detachable tablets now account for 4.2 per cent share of the overall tablet market, with shipments up by a staggering 335 per cent year-on-year in the first quarter.

IDC has revised its forecast for the 2016 MEA tablet market downwards and now expects a total of 14.9 million units to be shipped in the year, representing a decline of 7.9 per cent.

Charakla said that Windows operating system is expected to register healthy growth during the year in line with the growth in detachable devices. IDC expects shipments of detachable tablets, the bulk of which run on Windows, to grow 127.7 per cent year-on-year in 2016.

“We expect the delivery of multiple projects involving high volumes of tablets to take place in Pakistan and Egypt this year,” he said.