Will the tablet bubble burst?

The category is growing strong but some are wary of market becoming oversaturated with budget models
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Sales of tablet computers are still booming – but there are fears the prolific sector could burn itself out.

Carphone Warehouse plans to grow its tablet offering after posting a “significant” year-on-year sales increase; it has even enlisted the help of model Kate Moss to design exclusive tablet accessories for its stores.

Currys and PC World are seeing strong growth in the tablet category too, including a 344 per cent rise in sales of tablet accessories year-on-year. It expects skins, keyboards and cases to be “huge sellers” this holiday season.

Market research firm GfK recently told PCR that tablets and accessories have been key to keeping the market afloat, and “will continue to play a crucial role in driving the industry’s growth throughout 2013”. Meanwhile, Gartner estimates worldwide tablet shipments will grow 67.9 per cent this year to some 202 million units. But indies are concerned about the sheer amount of product.

Dave Richter from Poole-based Computer Service store PCs Made Simple told PCR: “I think the tablet bubble will burst, because it’s developing at such a rapid pace it’s hard to know what’s best for customers.

“There are a lot of budget tablets – it’s quite hard to keep pace with which ones are any good and which aren’t. You’ll order one in and later find out it’s been dropped [by the distributor] and has disappeared. We don’t want to sell something that customers aren’t going to be happy with.”

Garry Stonehouse from Marske-based indie Gbiz IT added: “There are too many budget tablets but we’ve stayed at the higher end of that market.

“However, the quality of lower priced tablets is increasing, which has allowed us to increase our range downwards without looking terrible.”

Synaxon UK MD Derek Jones commented: “The tablet bubble will burst, but then it’ll be replaced. Things will change and get smaller quicker as they’ve always done.”

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