With Apple launching an upgraded new "entry-level" but still fully featured and powerful 9.7-inch iPad today that offers Apple Pencil support as standard — the A$469 price is meant to challenge those cheap Windows convertible laptops and cheap Android tablets — Apple's tablet sales success is sure to only grow this year.
However, respected Australian analyst firm Telsyte's research looks at the past as well as the future, and notes that "a total of 1.65 million tablets were sold in Australia during the second half of 2017, a marginal increase of only 1% from the same period a year ago", in what is being billed as a stabilisation as the "market enters a new phase of maturity".
Naturally, the devil is in the detail, because while overall sales figures are flat like a duck gliding across the water, there is furious paddling happening below that tells the true story.
Telsyte tells us that "Apple iPad sales bounced back in the second half of 2017 compared to a year ago (up 6%), mainly due to a replacement cycle driven by the new budget-friendly 9.7-inch iPad and an overall increase in interest for the iPad Pro series, which has been positioned as a PC replacement device".
With that said, what did Telsyte's "Australian Tablet Computer Market Study 2018", which as always in available to relevant parties at relevant prices, find for Android and Windows tablet sales?
It turns out that "sales of Android-based tablets continued to disappoint, falling by 16% compared to the second half of 2016. Samsung and Lenovo held their positions as the largest Android tablet vendors in Australia, but other device maker have turned their focus to Windows 10 tablets and 2-in-1s in place of Android".
Given that even Google has abandoned production of its own Android tablets, and has utterly failed at encouraging developers to properly develop tablet-optimised apps as Apple has done so incredibly successfully, this should come as no surprise.
That said, the market is still buying Android tablets, and I personally think it is great to see Samsung, Lenovo, Huawei and others working hard to continue developing them, with iOS and Windows certainly needing the competition (and vice versa) so they're all kept on their toes.
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Then we get to the next observations from Telsyte’s tablet research, which shows "demand for 2-in-1 tablets — or tablets which can also be used as a computing device (with keyboard) — is approaching mainstream acceptance. 2-in-1 tablets accounted for over 40% of total tablet sales during the second half of 2017, with the enterprise and BYOD segments driving continued market growth".
It's also important to note Telsyte stating that it "measures Apple iPad Pro models as 2-in-1s for comparison reasons, due to having a specifically designed Apple keyboard which is typically sold together".
Now, despite this, and despite iPads dominating the market share charts in Australia, Telsyte nevertheless claims that "sales of 2-in-1 tablets during the second half of 2017 was still predominantly driven by Windows with more Australians considering Windows 2-in-1 tablets when it comes to upgrading their laptops".
We're told that "Windows 2-in-1 tablet sales increased by 13% in the second half of 2017 compared to the same period in 2016", and how "during this period overall Windows tablet sales overtook Android tablet sales for the first time", all while iPads have long overtaken both Windows and Android tablet sales.
In any case, Telsyte tells us its latest tablet research found "some 35% of tablet users tether to their smartphones while out and about, as the average smartphone data allowance has more than doubled since 2016".
However, Telsyte says it "believes the big driver for mobility and tablets will come from eSIMs".
Last seen in the Apple Watch Series 3 LTE edition, eSIMs are "integrated SIMs in digital devices such as smartphones, wearables, tablets and other Internet connected devices. Devices with eSIMs can be connected to supporting mobile networks without requiring a physical SIM card".
Indeed, Telsyte senior analyst Alvin Lee said: "The early success of eSIM in wearables such as the Apple Watch 3 LTE can potentially extend to tablets, with simplified and more user-friendly setup for mobile connectivity."
eSims "have the potential to rejuvenate tablet computer sales as around 1 in 3 tablet and laptop owners show an interest in connecting to mobile networks directly if their device had an eSim that was easy to connect".
Telsyte also states: "Growth in the tablet using audience (or installed based of users) has started to show signs of peaking, with more than 15 million Australians having access to a tablet at the end of 2017. This was up only around 200,000 people over 2016. The Windows tablet audience is expected to surpass Android during 2018."
In addition, Telsyte has identified education and enterprise as key growth segments for tablet sales in the next 12 to 24 months, something highlighted by Apple's own moves in the education market today.
Finally, Telsyte says "tablets remained a critical channel for delivering children’s content, with 4 in 10 parents that own a tablet sharing it with their children. In addition, Telsyte research shows children who use tablets spend up to two hours per day on their device".
Here's some additional information on Telsyte’s Australian Tablet Computer Market Study 2018, which is "a comprehensive 74-page report which provides subscribers with:"
- Market sizing, platform and vendor market shares and forecasts
- End user trends across devices, usage, platforms and accessories
- Tablet and computer purchase intentions and loyalty
- Tablet audience estimates
In preparing this study, Telsyte says it used:
Telsyte’s annual Digital Consumer survey conducted in November 2017 with a representative sample of 1,162 respondents, 16 years and older, and follow-up survey conducted in January 2018 with a representative sample of 1178, 16 years and older.
- Interviews conducted with executives from service providers, network operators, manufacturers, retailers, financial analysts and channel partners.
- Financial reports released by mobile carriers, service providers, retailers and manufacturers.
- On-going monitoring of local and global market and vendor trends.