Last year was a mixed one for IT, with the category growing one per cent in volume compared with 2011 but declining in value by four per cent. It will come as no surprise that the biggest success story was media tablets, with more of these devices sold in retail channels in December than notebooks in the whole of Q4.
It cannot be said definitively whether tablets are replacing older form factors or being used in conjunction with desktop or notebook computers. Nevertheless, the growth has revealed some key trends that VARs should monitor to make the most of this shift.
Media tablets are primarily retail products, but their growth in B2B needs to be considered as well. Our tracked B2B channel revealed that 29 per cent of the computers sold in Q4 were media tablets, up from 15 per cent in Q4 2011.
This suggests that although these devices generally tend to have less functionality than traditional form factors, businesses are seeing a place for them. Furthermore, this may be an attempt by some businesses to avoid the complications of BYOD, with employees connecting unsecured devices to work networks.
Sales of boxed security software for media tablets rose 2,000 per cent in the full 2012 year, against 2011. That is versus an 11 per cent decline over the same period for boxed security software overall.
Sales of keyboards designed for media tablets expanded 122 per cent, when comparing Q4 2012 with Q4 2011. Value was also added to this area of the market, with average selling prices for these peripherals almost double those of keyboards designed for desktop computers.
This shows that people are prepared to pay a premium to make sure they get the maximum use from their devices, and with media tablet peripherals not limited to keyboards, it seems there are opportunities to generate value.
With the continued rise of media tablet sales, there are opportunities for growth in networking as well. The strong rise in sales of wireless-enabled devices in the home (such as tablets, as well as smartphones, notebooks and smart TVs), means many consumers and businesses may find they need to upgrade their networking hardware in the not-too-distant future.
Already, routers supporting the new AC standard are having an impact in this area, accounting for three per cent of the value of the routers market in Q4 of 2012. This is despite boasting much higher average selling prices than devices with a lower specification.
These early sales are likely to be to early adopters or those with specific networking needs. Nevertheless, there is likely to be more mass-market penetration for this kind of device as more consumers make use of services such as super-fast broadband and HD video streaming.
The IT market has maintained some growth as media tablets continue to sell well. It is important to grasp the full implications for these devices – how media tablets and devices like them will affect both consumer and B2B arenas, changing the markets for software, peripherals and networking technologies, to name but a few.
Above: Chart showing total audited percentage growth in sales in the UK
© Copyright GfK 2013
Dominic Ashford is an account manager for IT market research at GfK
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