Smaller, cheaper tablets will be popular this Christmas
Barely a pre-Christmas day passes without a tablet story appearing in the mainstream media or a “best tablet for Christmas” review piece cropping up on a consumer site. Given the numbers being touted, it’s not surprising.
According to September 2013 data from International Data Corporation, UK tablet shipments in Q3 2013 jumped almost 40% on the same quarter in 2012, to over 2.6 million. And with Christmas sales set to deliver even more impressive figures, this market is headed for the mainstream.
While shipments of Apple tablets remained strong, they were diluted by growth in shipments of other branded devices. Survey data from Newsworks provided further evidence of Apple’s current dominance, showing that 55% of UK tablet-toting consumers owned an iPad in December 2013. But the appearance of Tesco’s Hudl on the list was telling, with 17% of respondents expecting such a device as a Christmas gift.
Even the grocery retailer itself has been surprised by the success of its first foray into the tablet market. Sales have already passed 300,000 units—stock levels ran out twice—and an enhanced version is slated for 2014.
The reason for this success is a blend of affordability and device build/usability. The first aspect makes sense when one considers how tablet user growth is particularly marked among the youngest and oldest age groups in the UK. eMarketer estimates tablet use among children 11 and under to grow 76.5% in 2013; for adults 65 and older, gains will be 64.6%. Given these two groups have limited disposable income, if any at all, cheaper devices fit the bill perfectly. Of course, for children, these smaller devices are often seen as discretionary spend by parents in order to provide peace of mind that the premium tablet in the household remains safe from potential damage.
However, price alone is not enough to guarantee success in this competitive market. While the Hudl offers good build and performance at an affordable price, other attempts to enter this lower-end 7-inch space have ultimately failed. Despite brands like Aldi and Argos declaring that their 7-inch devices—the Lifetab and MyTablet, respectively—sold out in record time, their shelves have not been replenished, indicating a lack of belief in their products. In short, a cheap device often leads to a cheap experience, and that’s something UK consumers won’t accept.