Media tablet shipments in Europe, Middle East, and Africa (EMEA) reached closed to 4.4 million units in 2Q11, ahead of forecast at 3.7 million, representing an increase of 394% compared with the same quarter last year and up 82% compared with 1Q11.
Following a softer than expected 1Q, which was adversely impacted by consumers’ “wait-and-see” attitude for the iPad 2 and the delayed availability of Android Honeycomb, 2Q showed renewed buoyancy in the market.
Stronger than expected trends were driven primarily by soaring demand for the iPad 2, while the plethora of new models launching with Android Honeycomb has further contributed to tablet momentum.
Product design, intuitive touch interface, Internet-centric usage model, and myriad of applications continued to drive demand for media tablets, particularly in Western Europe, which represents the majority of shipments.
While the consumer segment remained the key target market, there is increasing interest from enterprises as well. But businesses are still evaluating the products and how they could incorporate non-Windows devices into their existing IT infrastructure, while the limited number of products available for the business space also contributed to constrain stronger commercial demand.
Apple has clearly maintained dominance across the region and outperformed expectations, thanks to robust demand for the new iPad 2. The user interface, instantaneous access to the Internet, large number of applications, product design, and strength of the Apple brand remained among the key drivers behind the continued buoyancy and demand for the iPad.
Having waited for the Honeycomb version of Android, which has been specifically developed with media tablets in mind, a plethora of products hit the market in 2Q. But Android shipments did not meet expectations and reached fewer than 1.4 million units, despite increasingly aggressive price points starting from €99 for entry-level 7in. models.
Among the new Android entrants, Acer had a strong sell-in push of the new Iconia tablet, but following the initial interest, sell-out was reported to have slowed down. ASUS, on the other hand, had relatively limited sell-in in 2Q, but the Eee Pad Transformer proved to be one of the most successful Android models, and ASUS could have sold more if supply was not constrained.
French vendor Archos continued to expand both from a product range and go-to-market standpoint, fueling solid growth for the vendor in 2Q.
The PlayBook from RIM became available at the end of June 2011, with initial sell-in reaching 93,000 in 2Q11. While historically the vendor has had a large footprint in the enterprise space with its smartphone offering, the consumer segment has been RIM’s initial target market with its tablets, using primarily its telco retail partners such as Carphone Warehouse.
I expect the EMEA media tablet market to continue to enjoy robust expansion, with shipments forecast to reach close to 22 million units, representing €9.1 billion in value in 2011.
The second half of the year will see a further expansion of product availability, which will lead to accelerating competition and more aggressive price points. The Christmas season in particular is expected to be very buoyant with vendors positioning their products as the perfect Christmas gift.
I remain very optimistic about the outlook for media tablets and projects EMEA shipments to reach 33 million units in 2012, an increase of 53%, representing a value of €13.1 billion, up 44% compared with 2011. Sustained momentum around the Apple brand and the expected launch of iPad 3 will help iOS to maintain dominance in 2012.
Android is forecast to gain market share, reaching 34% in 2012, stimulated by further expansion in product availability and available routes to market, with the telco operator channel expected to become more involved. But there will also be additional competition from the BlackBerry Tablet OS, which is expected to make further inroads across both consumer and commercial segments.
While the market will remain heavily focused on the consumer segment, expansion will also come from a change in end-user dynamics, as the ongoing product evaluation by businesses is expected to translate into an increasing number of media tablet shipments in the commercial segment as well.
Tablets are seen as a major opportunity for several horizontal and vertical applications and many businesses are looking seriously into deploying tablets in the near future. Nevertheless, according to a recent survey about tablets in the enterprise, Windows is still top of the list when it comes to commercial tablets.
And with a completely redesigned user interface based on the Metro design language developed for Windows Phone 7, the new Windows 8 operating systems will likely be able to make a strong impact not just in the commercial segment but in the consumer segment as well, further intensifying the OS battle.