Dominic Ashford looks at the impact of the growing tablet market

GfK: Are tablet peripherals an opportunity for IT?

Dominic Ashford, GfK account manager, IT, examines the possibility that tablet PC peripherals are driving sales for retailers and vendors.

The IT retail market tracked by GfK grew by five per cent in value in August 2012 compared to August 2011. Of particular interest was the fact that August was the first month where the number of media tablets sold was equal to the number of laptops sold in GfK’s tracked retail channels.

While media tablet sales have been a significant boost to the IT market over the last two years, this has had a mixed effect on peripheral categories. Boxed software sales, for example, have fallen by -14 per cent in volume August on August. The fall in laptop and netbook sales has been one of the factors contributing to this decline because the opportunity for retailers to sell software as part of a bundle with computers has reduced. More generally, media tablet owners are less likely to purchase boxed software because these devices are optimised for app downloads. Buying media tablet-focused boxed software to upload via a PC seems to defeat the purpose of having these ultra-mobile, web-connected devices.

One result of this decline in boxed software sales has been that the average selling price of boxed software has increased by ten per cent.

This is because the user-base for more expensive, specialist software has not been affected by the growth of media tablets, thereby presenting an opportunity for retailers to focus on retaining market value.

There have been positive impacts of media tablets’ growth on other categories. Sales of keyboards for media tablets have grown by 88 per cent in volume year-on-year. These keyboards now represent 15 per cent of the value of the keyboard market in retail channels. This also shows the opportunity for traditional brick-and- mortar retailers to upsell different accessories for these devices. Furthermore, the average selling price of media tablet keyboards was 278 per cent higher than traditional computer keyboards, meaning that consumers are willing to pay more.

The ubiquity of wirelessly enabled products has also had an effect on the consumer networking market. A few years ago each household would have had perhaps one device requiring a wireless connection; this has now increased significantly. As a result, households require more powerful hardware to handle the increased workload. An example of this can be seen in the routers market, where two per cent of the value in retail channels in August was AC-enabled devices.

AC is a wireless standard that provides significantly higher speeds and can support more workload than has traditionally been available. Although the absolute share of these devices is currently small, the fact that the technology is so new (and currently unsupported by many devices) and that the average selling price of these devices in August was 155 per cent higher than a non-AC router, suggests that consumers do see a need for these devices. Thus, this is an area in which the growth of media tablets will have a positive knock-on effect.

What the examples of boxed software, media tablet keyboards and AC-enabled routers suggest is that media tablets do offer opportunities for other areas of IT. In order to make the most of these opportunities, vendors and retailers need to communicate to consumers the benefits of buying these peripherals to enhance the experience of owning a media tablet.

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