Robyn Tovey, GfK account executive talks keyboards, and how the timeless peripheral is being buoyed by the tablet boom

The key(board) to success

Robyn Tovey, account executive at GfK takes a look at the keyboard market and how the humble peripheral is benefitting from the tablet boom…

As predicted, 2012 was a very significant year for the media tablet market, with full year sales volume being 267 per cent higher compared to 2011. December 2012 alone saw more media tablets sold in GfK’s tracked retail channels than notebook sales in the whole of Q4. This growth was partly driven by the increase of smaller media tablets, which generally have lower average selling prices (ASPs); ASPs saw a decline of 23 per cent year on year in 2012.

We are also seeing 52 per cent more brands competing in the media tablet market, and 126 per cent different models available to the consumer in 2012 compared to the previous year. It seems likely these trends will continue in 2013 as the lower prices in this product group have made buying a media tablet a more viable purchase for many consumers.

Cordless keyboards have benefited from the uprising of the media tablet, with year-on-year volume and value growths of 35 per cent and 30 per cent respectively in 2012. The growth of cordless keyboards comes as no surprise, as this peripheral enables consumers to utilise their tablet for content creation instead of just content consumption.

Uses for cordless keyboards are not limited to tablets. It is likely that cordless keyboard sales are also being driven by smart TV sales, which saw a volume and value growth of 70 per cent and 57 per cent respectively in 2012 compared to 2011. Bluetooth keyboards in particular saw the bulk of cordless sales growth after displaying year on year volume growth of 129 per cent in December. Following the boost in the demand for cordless keyboards, 2012 saw 12 per cent more brands in the market than 2011.

It is an entirely different story for the traditional corded keyboard, which declined in value by 29 per cent year- on-year in 2012. With consistent year-on-year volume and value declines in each month of 2012, it seems that the cordless keyboard could be replacing the corded keyboard altogether.

From September 2012 onwards, cordless keyboards have surpassed the corded keyboard in volume sales. The value of the cordless market has been more than double the corded keyboard market since May 2012.

The same trends are occurring within the mice market; the corded mouse has been in decline while its corded equivalent is in growth. Volume declines reached 19 per cent for the corded mouse in 2012. Cordless mice on the other hand grew at a rate of seven per cent in volume in 2012.

The failure for cordless mice to match the volume growth of cordless keyboards comes as little surprise, as this segment does not yield the same productive success for content creation on a tablet as the cordless keyboard.

Yet, some growth is expected for the cordless mouse, as it is an equally important peripheral for the smart TV.

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