The IT market as tracked by GfK grew 24.2 per cent in volume terms and 6.8 per cent by value in Q1 2013, compared to Q1 2012. Unsurprisingly, the lion’s share of that growth was driven by sales of media tablets and their peripherals.
As a result of the continuing success of media tablets, we are seeing an effect on some of the traditional computing form factors – and there are some exciting designs other than tablets that are starting to gain traction.
The release of several 7in devices in Q4 facilitated strong Christmas sales of media tablets, and in Q1 2013, the category went on to display year-over-year growth of 159.6 per cent and 86.5 per cent in volume and value respectively.
While the sales heights of Q4 did not continue into Q1, media tablets still accounted for 57.2 per cent of all computing devices sold this year so far.
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The competition within this segment of the computing market has also intensified, and we are now seeing almost twice as many models on the market in Q1 2013 versus Q1 2012.
The popularity of smaller tablet devices continued into 2013, and the average selling price (ASP) of this product group fell 28.2 per cent year on year by Q1 2013.
Sales of keyboards designed specifically for tablets grew year on year – 149 per cent by volume and 184.8 per cent in value terms in Q1.
This suggests consumers want to do things on their tablets, instead of on their laptops, and it should come as no surprise that the notebook market declined year on year 4.7 per cent in volume and 8.4 per cent in value terms in the quarter.
Desktop sales also shrank, 17.4 per cent in volume terms and 22.7 by value. Following this decline, 12.2 per cent of the brands in the desktop arena in Q1 2012 have now exited the market. However, it seems that media tablet sales are not cannibalising desktop and notebook sales but merely delaying desktop and notebook replacement.
There are some exciting form factors beginning to gain traction in the market, such as the hybrid device characterised by either a detachable keyboard or a keyboard that folds right around 180 degrees. This offers increased mobility with full keyboard functionality.
However, buying a tablet and a separate keyboard has often proved cheaper than buying a hybrid. That said, year-on-year growth was seen in Q1 to have mounted to 276.4 per cent by volume and 207.1 per cent by value – and hybrid ASPs have fallen 18.4 per cent since Q1 2012.
This ASP decrease is likely due to the increase in competition; there are now 65.6 per cent more hybrid computers available than in Q1 2012.
Then there is the ultrathin, which enjoyed considerable year-on-year growth. In Q1 2013, volume and value grew by 282.7 per cent and 175.3 per cent respectively. The ultrathin ASP reduced by 28.1 per cent from Q1 2013 to Q1 2012. And considering the performance potential of the ultrathin, further price reductions could spell real danger for traditional notebook sales.
Robyn Tovey is an account executive for IT research at GfK
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