Tablet computer sales rose 82 per cent in the fourth quarter of last year to 398,003 units compared to 218,639 units in the fourth quarter of 2012.
“The growth in tablets is slowing down but will continue to grow, mainly coming in from consumer segment, education sector, hospitality, aviation, banking and telcos,” said Fouad R. Charakla, research manager at International Data Corporation (IDC).
In 2014, 1.72 million tablets were expected to be sold compared to 1.46 million tablets in 2013, a growth of 17.80 per cent. In 2012 the figure was 619,770 units.
He said tablets with screen sizes between seven and eight inches are driving the demand and occupies more than 50 per cent of tablet sales. Several large-scale initiatives within the education sector are expected to be delivered in the coming years.
The prices of tablets have fallen from $381 (Dh1,399) in fourth quarter of last year to $243 in the fourth quarter of last year. Low-cost tablets running on the Android operating system will also witness growing acceptance.
Some of the lower-priced tablets with prices ranging around $100 or lower will continue to be treated as a popular free giveaway when sold along other IT or consumer electronic products, especially in the UAE.
On whether unbranded manufacturers of low-cost tablets will be able to survive, he said unbranded vendors can survive, not all, if they are able to compete “aggressively, differentiate and yet make margins.”
Even though the unbranded vendors do not have a global brand name, they are trying to “differentiate and offer good value for money products.”
But Santosh Varghese, General Manager for Toshiba Gulf, is having a different view.
He said tablets are split into three categories. The first category is Apple and Samsung while the second is the PC manufacturers and the third is the unbranded manufacturers.
As PC brands come in, he said unbranded vendors are reducing their share but at one point they cannot afford it. Their market share is reducing and is very likely to be “wiped out this year.”
After that the market will be divided equally. Fifty per cent for Apple and Samsung put together while the other 50 per cent for PC brands in the tablet space.
Santosh said that Windows tablets will gain acceptance this year as the Android market is getting saturated and the new market will be for Windows tablets.
“We have seen more acceptances for Windows tablets in the corporate side,” he said.
Although Apple’s iOS and Windows OS were contributors to this growth, Fouad said the major contribution came without a doubt from the Android operating system.
“Android operating system will be a major factor behind the huge sales in 2014 while Windows will be growing the fastest as more businesses are adopting tablets in the work environment,” said Charakla.