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Market tracker IDC has revealed the Australasian tablet market grew 147% in the first quarter of this year, comparing it to the first quarter of 2012 - a sharp contrast with dropping PC sales.
Across Australasia, there was a 147% year-on-year in 2013 Q1, bringing the total market size up to 1.14 million units.
130,000 tablets were shipped into NZ, four times as many as the same quarter last year (34,000).
Within the booming market there are two trends.
One, Android tablets have gained on Apple's iPad - no surprise given the rise of cheaper Androids, particularly 7-inch models.
The second will raise more eyebrows. IDC sees Microsoft Windows-based tablets jumping from nowhere to 8% of Australasian sales and 10% in NZ. The survey period saw the release of the Microsoft-made Surface RT tablet, but not the just-released Surface Pro (Windows-based tablets are also being released by partners such as Dell, Acer, HP, Asus and Lenovo - most of whom also make Google Android-based models). IDC's figures are for shipments only, not sales.
Another difference on this side of the Tasman: Android has pulled ahead overall.
Tablet shipments, Australia-New Zealand
Tablet shipments, New Zealand, Q1 2013
Tablet shipments, New Zealand, Q1 2012
All Windows figures include Windows 7, Windows RT and Windows 8 tablets. Source: IDC.
A lingering question: have buyers simply skipped a buying cycle, choosing to sweat their current laptop a little longer in favour of buying a tablet - or are people quite happy creating content on a tablet, pointing to the death of the PC? Or are we heading for a hybrid device future of laptops with snap-off touchscreen displays?
"Users now have better access to a wide range of low to high-end tablets as well as different operating systems compared to last year. In 2012, an user would usually choose between an Apple iPad or a Samsung Galaxy Tab but now, a year later, brands like ASUS, Acer, and Microsoft would also appear on the user’s radar," says Suzanne Tai, Associate Market Analyst of IDC's ANZ Infrastructure Research Group.
Whitebox tablets have picked up significantly as well, driven with heavy promotions by retailers such as Aldi, Harvey Norman, K-Mart and Warehouse Stationary, Ms Tai says (Warehouse Stationery has just become an official Apple authorised reseller and has just started stocking the iPad and iPad Mini; the arrangement doesn't extend to regular Warehouse stores).
"Android is growing its foothold in the marketplace, thanks to Samsung's aggressiveness with promotions and channel strategies, as well as the influx of whitebox tablets. Additionally, Windows tablets are also gaining traction with entry of new models, pilot rollouts and implementations in commercial sector especially in education," the IDC analyst says.
The ANZ tablets market is expected to grow 46% in 2013 over 2012 due to the introduction of new tablets, increasing commercial uptake of tablets, increasing demand as a result of price drops and lastly, PC cannibalisation. In 2013, IDC expects to see increasing uptake of Windows and Android tablets stealing market share from iOS tablets.
"We will see more price competition within the tablets market especially with PC giants such as HP, ASUS and Acer introducing new cheap Android tablets to compete with the whitebox market," says Ms Tai.
"And let’s not forget the entry of Microsoft Surface Pro into the ANZ market in May 2013. This is bound to spark fierce battles among tablet vendors."
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