The Middle East and Africa (MEA) tablet market posted a much better than anticipated year-on-year growth rate – reaching a total of 1.36 million units for the fourth quarter of 2012.
This is 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.
The overall MEA tablet market in 2012 grew by 90 per cent year-on-year. This surge is the result of a number of factors, including cheaper tablet entrants, reduced prices by vendors, and overall rising consumer demand for these devices. Increasing interest in tablets as an educational tool will ensure further strong growth throughout the MEA region.
"Currently, tablets are used predominantly as entertainment devices" says Victoria Mendes, a research analyst with Personal Computing, Systems and Infrastructure Solutions at IDC.
"However, we expect to see bigger demand for tablets in the corporate segment. In particular, we expect OEMs to use the enhanced features and capabilities of the Windows 8 platform to lure their existing corporate clients into adopting tablets for their organizations. This will, however, have to be coupled with lowered prices, as tablets running on the Windows 8 operating system are much more expensive than those running on Android OS, especially in light of the tough economic situation," she added.
From an operating systems perspective, the share of iOS in the MEA region is expected to decline, while Android and Windows will continue to grow throughout the forecast period. "Low-cost models are expected to be one of the key contributors towards the growth of the tablet market, boosting the share of Android as well," says Fouad Charakla, research manager at IDC. "However, these low-cost tablets will not be considered as primary computing devices by most end-users."
"International vendors are trying to keep up with the exploding number of low-cost tablets through the introduction of smaller screen sizes and slightly lower-end models, to cater to cash-strapped consumers", notes Mendes. "This could mean that any advancement in terms of new features and higher end processing may be compromised in order to gain market share in the short term."
At a country level, Turkey and Saudi Arabia are expected to continue to contribute the most to the growth of the MEA region. The Saudi market in particular is very price sensitive and, as such, the market volume share of low-cost tablets is expected to increase heavily.
Tablets are ideal for easy connectivity and portability. They represent a category in between traditional notebooks and mini notebooks, as they are more portable than the former and more powerful than the latter. This is expected to be a major driver of the tablet market's growth in the MEA region throughout the forecast period.
Since the first tablet was introduced, this category has quickly gained market share and is expected to capture further share of the overall market. IDC expects tablet shipments to exceed portable PC shipments in the MEA region by 2016.