The tablet market in the Middle East and Africa (MEA) region grew by 184% year-on-year in the first quarter of 2013, to reach a total of 2.25 million units, according to the latest results released by International Data Corporation (IDC), the premier global market intelligence and advisory firm for the information technology and telecommunications markets.
This remarkable growth stemmed mainly from the home segment, aided by steady expansion in the business sector. In particular, there was a considerable increase in demand from MEA businesses for tablets running Windows OS.
“Growing demand from the commercial segment is expected in the coming years, especially within the education sector,” says Victoria Mendes, a research analyst for personal computing, systems, and infrastructure solutions at IDC. “Education projects like ‘Fatih’ in Turkey, the Supreme Education Council’s (SEC) ‘e-bag’ project in Qatar, and Sheikh Mohammed’s ‘Smart learning’ initiative in the UAE are expected to drive commercial tablet sales in the coming years. The banking sector and the aviation sub-sector are expected to be other key spending industries.”
Traditional PC vendors, although initially counting on the Windows 8 platform to grow their tablet market share, are now pushing their Android devices (alongside Windows) at competitive prices in order to capture share from low-cost tablet vendors.
Multinational vendors such as Lenovo and Acer, as well as other far-eastern and local brands are also expected to launch more Android-based tablets in 2013.
This steady march of Android and Windows 8 tablets will inevitably have an impact on Apple’s performance, says Fouad Charakla, a research manager at IDC. “Apple’s proprietary operating system, iOS, is expected to continue losing share across the MEA region,” he says. “However, the rapidly growing demand for the iPad Mini is expected to enable the vendor’s volumes to grow at a much faster pace than previously forecast.”
The tablet market’s growth will primarily be driven by the greater variety and availability of tablets offered at reduced prices. The market share of Android-based tablets is expected to increase significantly in 2013, largely due to an increasing number of models priced $100 and below.
Telecom providers are expected to become an increasingly important distribution channel across the MEA region, as they offer tablets at reduced prices and provide installment payment plans. Turkey and South Africa currently have the region’s highest volume of tablet sales pushed through this channel.
Meanwhile, in the UAE, the retail channel remains very strong, with various promotional campaigns and events for consumer electronics held throughout the year, including the Dubai Shopping Festival in January, Gitex Shopper in April and October, and Dubai Summer Surprises in August.
IDC predicts that the tablet market will record a shift from traditional, larger screen sizes to smaller screen sizes (7–9″) in the coming years, due mainly to price and portability. Demand for smaller screen sizes has been increasing recently, and as such, vendors are now investing more into manufacturing such devices.