Spoilt for choice, Indians pick sub-Rs 10,000 tablets

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Tablets are gaining in popularity in India with almost 135 vendors selling them, but the market largely remains one of low-cost machines. In the July-September quarter last year (for which data are available), the average price of tablets sold was Rs 13,200, but 63.5 per cent of all sales were for machines costing below Rs 10,000. The price-sensitive market has preferred cheap machines.

Those three months saw sales of 1.1 million tablets, with most machines (23.9 per cent) sold by Samsung, the clear lea­der. It was followed by Micromax (15.3 per cent) and Datawind (12.3 per cent sh­are – excluding government sa­les of Aakash).

Tarun Pathak, analyst at CyberMedia Research, expects a change when October-De­cember data co­me, a change that will continue in 2013. July-September would be the last quarter to show the “stereotype” rankings typical of the Indian market. He says through 2013 “we expect to see a change in the rankings, with the launch of the Apple Mini and Google Nexus tablets.”

“These new devices closely match the media tablets already available from other OEMs in India in terms of specifications and price. This is particularly true of Samsung. It will be interesting to see if people go in for other multinational brands or if Samsung is able to retain its loyalty,” adds Pathak.

In July-September Android devices sold the most (91.3 per cent of sales); and 7-inch display screens were most popular (77.9 per cent) of all screen sizes. Wi-Fi connectivity, 512 MB RAM and over 1 GHz processor speed were the other trending features of the most selling tablets. Consumers did not mind the absence of voice calling features in their tablets: 62.9 per cent of all tablets sold did not have the facility.

There could be some churning in the market for sub-Rs 5,000 tablets. Some players in this category may shut, as market acceptability is poor in the face of growing consumer expectations. Some vendors may have to make price corrections.

Mattias Lewren, MD of Accenture’s electronics and high-tech industry group, calls it a four-horse race of multi-function devices such as PCs, smartphones, tablets and HDTVs. “The development requires electronics manufacturers to focus squarely on innovative devices with multiple applications, from browsing to media consumption to communications in various settings. Consumers want ‘do it all’ capabilities in various sizes and user experiences that fit their different lifestyle needs,” he says.

The consumer segment continues to drive tablet sales in India. Enterprises are still warming up to the device. When they really take to this machine over the next 12 months, tablet sales will double, say industry analysts.

“In 2016 two-thirds of the mobile workforce will own smartphones, and 40 per cent of these will be mobile,” says Carolina Milanesi, research vice-president of Gartner. “Tablets will be the key accelerator to mobility. Gartner estimates that the end of 2012 purchases of tablets by businesses would have reached 13 million units (worldwide) and it will more than treble by 2016 to reach 53 million.”

shyamalaseetharaman@mydigitalfc.com

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