After years of posting successive gains, the Middle East and Africa (MEA) tablet market recorded its first ever year-on-year decline in Q1 2015, with shipments to the region declining 5.8% to 3.83 million units. That’s according to the latest market insights announced today by International Data Corporation (IDC), which blamed the poor performance on a sharp decline in the region’s biggest tablet market, Turkey, where shipments almost halved when compared to the corresponding quarter of 2014.
“The major reason behind the decline of the Turkish market was the discontinuation of deliveries for the massive FATIH education project, which had a huge impact on commercial demand for tablets in the country during Q1,” says Fouad Charakla, research manager for personal computing, systems, and infrastructure solutions at IDC. “Currency fluctuations in Turkey, high inventory levels carried over from Q4 2014, and some saturation in the tablet market also had a negative impact on shipments targeted at the consumer segment.”
It should be noted that these latter three factors were responsible for slowing the market’s performance in other key parts of the region as well. Meanwhile, the devaluation of certain major international currencies, such as the euro and ruble, has also negatively impacted tablet demand in MEA as a result of reduced international trade and tourism from the affected regions.
Samsung continued to lead the MEA tablet market in terms of shipments, despite suffering a decline of 5.5% year on year to total 920,000 units. Lenovo overtook Apple into second place for the first time, growing almost 96.4% year on year after shipping 520,000 units. Third-placed Apple continued to suffer, posting a sharp decline of 43.0% to total 430,000 units. In fourth place, Huawei was the fastest growing major vendor in MEA, shipping 240,000 units for a 280.3% year-on-year growth rate. Turkish vendor Casper posted substantial growth of 131.2% to rank fifth overall with 150,000 units.
The year 2015 as a whole will see positive growth, with shipments increasing 5.8% year on year to total 17.66 million units. However, this represents a stark slowdown from the overall growth of 41.6% seen in 2014. “The reduction in global oil prices has caused a slowdown in government-driven initiatives in some of the region’s oil-producing countries, negatively impacting demand for tablet devices,” says Charakla. “The decline in government spending has also had a ripple effect on other sectors across the region, and has also impacted demand from the consumer segment.”
In the longer run, the tablet market is expected to continue growing at a healthy pace over the coming years, cannibalizing some of the demand that currently exists for personal computers. However, with IDC expecting shipments to increase 7.0% and 7.9%, respectively, in 2016 and 2017, the market’s growth will be greatly reduced from the stellar rates experienced in the recent past. It should also be noted that the decline that has been seen in the tablet market’s average selling price in recent times will slowdown significantly over the coming years.