Tuesday, 18 March 2014 09:12

Australians are taking their tablets Featured

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Australians are buying tablet computers at an even faster rate than the rest of the word, according to new research. And Apple is doing better here.

Sales of tablets in Australia doubled in 2013 to reach 4.8 million units sold, according to a study from technology analyst firm Telsyte. This explosion in sales has resulted in the population penetration of media tablets reaching 40% at the end of 2013.

Telsyte estimates that 9.4 million Australians were using media tablets at the end of 2013, with usage expected to reach 22 million (not much under the total population) by 2018.

Telsyte predicts that media tablet penetration in Australia will exceed PC penetration sometime during the middle of 2015. (The tablet user base is larger than the installed base of devices, due to sharing of devices, typically in a home environment.)

Telsyte’s survey of tablet owners found that nearly half see them becoming their primary computing device within the next few years. Furthermore, Telsyte found that PC purchasing intentions continue to be severely affected by tablets.

“Australians are increasingly seeing their tablets as their main computing device in the home,” said Telsyte managing director Foad Fadaghi. “This shift in preferences is creating new digital opportunities that span consumer services, education and entertainment.”

Year-on-year Apple iPad sales grew by 52% to 2.6 million units in Australia in 2013, but Android tablet sales grew by a massive 186%, with more than 1.9 million devices purchased over the same period. Telsyte estimates that the total Australian media tablet market was worth $2.4 billion (at retail level) at the end of 2013.

That means Apple is still outselling Android in Australia, which is a different story to the global market shares. The Telsyte numbers offer an interesting comparison with the worldwide figures published recently by Gartner.

That data shows that Android is outselling Apple globally by nearly two to one. It also showed global tablet sales increasing by 68% last year – a lower growth rate than in Australia. The numbers are good for Apple Australia, which is doing better against Android in the local market than it is globally.

Tablets are proving to be a popular gift, said Fadhagi. “Nearly a quarter of devices in use were originally purchased as gifts. This popularity extends to accessories such as cases and keyboards, particularly during the holiday season.” Low cost units are becoming a favourite secondary device in the household. Telsyte has found that one in five tablet owners have two or more of the devices.

Fadhagi said the tablet market is now entering a new phase, driven by the arrival of a range of capable low cost Android devices. Telsyte segments the Australian media tablet market by Low (<$200) Medium ($200-$450) and High ($450+) price groups. Telsyte estimates that 29% of units sold in 2013 were Low or Medium, and anticipates these segments to grow to over 50% of sales by 2018, given current trends.

“The trend toward low cost devices is likely to impact Apple’s market share, which dropped from 72% in 2012 to 55% in 2013, despite introducing the iPad mini with retina display and iPad Air,” said Fadhagi.

The arrival of low cost Android units is also impacting Samsung and other premium Android vendors that have been subject to increased price competition. The Telsyste data, when compared to global trends, suggests that Apple’s market share will continue to fall.

Increased media tablet usage is not only impacting PC sales, but also those of smartphones. Nearly a quarter of Australian media tablet users claim they are spending less time on their smartphones due to their media tablets.

The Telsyte Australian Media Tablet Study has been published twice annually since 2010.

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Graeme Philipson

Graeme Philipson is senior associate editor at iTWire. He is one of Australia’s longest serving and most experienced IT journalists. He is author of the only definitive history of the Australian IT industry, ‘A Vision Splendid: The History of Australian Computing.’

He has been in the high tech industry for more than 30 years, most of that time as a market researcher, analyst and journalist. He was founding editor of MIS magazine, and is a former editor of Computerworld Australia. He was a research director for Gartner Asia Pacific and research manager for the Yankee Group Australia. He was a long time weekly IT columnist in The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald, and is a recipient of the Kester Award for lifetime achievement in IT journalism.

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