GfK's Robyn Tovey looks at the changing IT retail market

GfK: Ultrathins, slates and hybrids drive growth

Robyn Tovey, account executive at GfK, examines how price drops and greater availability in the tablet category have affected sales volumes in the wider market.

The overall IT retail market experienced year-on-year volume and value growths of 9.8 per cent and 6.8 per cent respectively in March 2013. As expected, media tablets and tablet peripherals were responsible for most of the growth.

While some were expecting media tablet sales to slow down after Christmas, we are still seeing year-on- year volume and value growths of 90.1 per cent and 32.6 per cent respectively in March 2013. Supplementary to media tablets, we are also seeing year-on- year volume and value growths amounting to 18.2 per cent and 30.4 per cent respectively of wireless keyboards in March 2013.

Although desktop computers (excluding the all-in-one computer) experienced volume and value declines of 16.4 per cent and 19.3 per cent respectively March 2013 vs March 2012, monitors displayed growth levels of 2.9 per cent in volume and 4.1 per cent in value over the same periods. Most likely is the case that consumers are choosing to upgrade to larger screen sized monitors before upgrading their desktops as the price for the larger monitors gradually declines.

The mobile computing market, (a mature and saturated market), has been in a gradual decline since the onset of the more mobile form factors such as the media tablet. However, in March 2013 we saw this decline begin to level as sales volume actually grew by 1.5 per cent in March 2013. There are three form factors within the mobile computing umbrella that are spurring growth: ultrathins, slate tablets, and hybrids. Slate tablets, differentiating from media tablets, run on desk operating systems as opposed to mobile operating systems.

We saw the ultrathin segment grow by 301.3 per cent in volume and 203.8 per cent in value when comparing March 2013 with March 2012. Given the premium pricing of ultrathins, it is no surprise that we are seeing growth after a year-on-year average selling price decline of 24.3 per cent in March 2013. Similarly, the average selling price of slate tablets has also dropped by 30.3 per cent March on March.

Subsequently, slate tablets have grown by 538 per cent and 450.5 per cent in volume and value respectively.

With a year-on-year growth rate of 185.4 per cent in volume and 99 per cent in value, hybrids are also driving growth in the mobile computing market. While hybrids are boasting an average selling price decline of 13.7 per cent year on year in March 2013, their growth is also likely to be due to the fact that more brands are offering hybrid models. As a result of the increase in brand activity, there are almost twice as many different models selling in March 2013 when compared to the corresponding month of 2012. It is expected that this increase in competition will continue to drive lower prices, and therefore spur further growth within this segment.

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