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South Africa sees huge upsurge in tablet demand

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Shipments of tablet PCs to South Africa increased 107.1% year on year in the final quarter of 2013 to total 513,000 units, according to the latest insights from the International Data Corporation (IDC). The country’s traditional PC market suffered a better-than-predicted 18.8% decline over the same period to 427,000 units, while there was more positive news for all-in-one (AiO) devices and convertible notebooks.

Acer's new Iconia A1-830, a 7.9-inch Android tablet (image: Acer)
Acer’s new Iconia A1-830, a 7.9-inch Android tablet (image: Acer)

“The decline in PC shipments can be attributed to the weak rand, high unemployment rate, poverty, and cannibalization from tablet devices,” says Joseph Hlongwane, a research analyst at IDC South Africa. “As is the case in all high-tech markets, tablets have grown exponentially since their introduction in South Africa and the trend is expected to continue along a similar path in the coming years. Their success in the computing space has been driven primarily by their mobility benefits, touchscreen technology, and competitive price points.”

“The majority of end users use tablet devices to surf the Internet and access social media, so tablets that can fit in one hand are seeing a tremendous increase in demand,” continues Hlongwane. “This is clearly reflected in the growing popularity of tablets with a screen size between 7″ and 8”, which resulted in shipments of such devices increasing 208.5% year on year in Q4 2013 to total 369,000 units.”

Android-based tablet shipments were up 170.9% over the same period to total 436,000 units. In 2013 alone, 1.2 million Android-based tablets were shipped into South Africa, representing 77.1% of the market. Meanwhile, iOS-based tablets have been losing market share, with shipments down 15.7% year on year in Q4 2013 to 65,000 units. Only 300,000 iOS units were shipped into the country in 2013, representing a market share of 19.3%. “Since the introduction of tablet devices, IDC has seen traditional PCs become lighter, thinner, and smaller,” continues Hlongwane. “There is a clear desire among traditional PC vendors to mimic the style and designs that have made tablet PCs so successful, although this evolution is not all one sided. Indeed, we have also seen stark improvements in the battery power, screen resolution, and form factors offered by vendors in the tablet market.”

The traditional desktop market shrunk 24.8% year on year in Q4 2013 to total 119,000 units, but shipments of AiO devices increased 28.6% over the same period to reach 9,000 units. “The growth seen in the AiO segment can be attributed to the sleek design of these devices, which resonates particularly well with end users,” says Hlongwane. “However, the high price tags attached to these machines remain a deterrent to the majority of the market.”

Mini notebooks, ultra slim notebooks, and traditional notebooks all experienced year-on-year declines in the market during Q4 2013. Mini notebooks witnessed the heaviest loss as they are nearing the end of production. Shipments of convertible notebooks saw phenomenal growth of 365.5%, albeit from a low base, to reach 2,000 units. “IDC expects to see a continuation of steady growth in the convertible notebook segment over the coming years,” says Hlongwane. “Indeed, we foresee this emerging technology breathing some much-needed life into the overall notebook market.”

On the supply side, HP regained top spot in South Africa’s overall PC market for Q4 2013, securing a 16.7% year-on-year increase in shipments having previously experienced consecutive quarterly declines since the beginning of 2013. Lenovo ranked second after boosting its shipments 23.3% year on year. Third-placed Dell’s shipments were up 15.9% year on year for the quarter.

Staff writer

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