Robyn Tovey discusses year-on-year tablet growth

GfK: Was there a Tablet under your Christmas tree?

GfK Account Executive Robyn Tovey looks at the performance of the wider market over the Christmas period.

The total IT retail market, as tracked by GfK, was in year-on-year growth in November 2012 by 16 per cent and 22 per cent in volume and value respectively.

Once again this growth is driven by media tablets. Following a year-on-year value growth of 170 per cent in November 2012, media tablets now account for 48 per cent of the value share of the IT market. In the run up to Christmas, November 2012 saw media tablet sales double from the previous month, bringing them to more than double that of desktop computers and notebooks combined.

The growth of media tablets has been largely driven by smaller devices. Seven-inch media tablets make up over 40 per cent of total media tablet sales in November 2012, compared to 17 per cent in November 2011.

The increasing popularity of seven- inch media tablets is at least partially attributable to the competitive pricing of these devices.

The average selling price has seen a decline of 30 per cent compared to last November, whereas the average selling price of ten-inch models only declined by eight per cent year-on-year. The price decrease comes as no surprise though when you consider that 70 per cent more brands are competing in this market in 2012. This price decrease has potentially made purchasing a tablet more viable for many consumers who were otherwise unwilling to make such an investment, given the current economic climate.

Notebooks and desktop computers, on the other hand, are not boasting a similar sales spike in the run up to Christmas. Notebooks sales dropped by 14 per cent in November 2012 compared to the corresponding month of 2011. Following the 26 per cent year- on-year decline, November 2012 saw the lowest amount of desktop computers sold this millennium. Most notably, the all-in-one desktop computer experienced a 42 per cent year-on-year decline despite reaching an all-time low average selling price in recent months. While media tablets may not pose a direct threat to desktop computer sales, there is overlap within the mobile computing market between media tablets and notebooks. With a 45 per cent year-on-year growth of wireless keying devices, it appears that media tablets are being used to complete computing tasks that were once a task for the notebook.

E-readers also declined year-on-year by 24 per cent in November 2012. However, this decline is somewhat misleading. Sales are actually up 29 per cent from October 2012. It is the failure to replicate the considerable spike achieved in the run up to Christmas in 2011 that accounts for the year-on-year decline of e-reader sales. This could be a case of 7-inch media tablets trumping e-readers on Christmas wish lists this year as a result of their competitive pricing and multi- functionality.

The shift towards media tablets has had ramifications on other sectors of the IT market. For instance, media tablets facilitate app-based software as opposed to boxed software. Consequently, boxed software sales have consistently declined in every month of 2012 in comparison to 2011. With the considerable spike in media tablet sales, we may also see sales spikes in media tablet accessories, such as cases and other peripherals.

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