15.1 million Australians have now got access to a tablet device — almost two thirds of people across all age groups — and after dropping significantly, the tablet market has stabilised in Australia, recording modest growth for the first time since 2014.
A new survey shows sales of tablet devices in grew 4 per cent year-on-year to 1.59 million units in the first half of 2016.
The Telsyte Australian Media Tablet Market Study 2016-2020 shows higher end convertible tablet-notebook devices (including Apple's iPad Pro, Microsoft's Surface tablets and the Samsung Galaxy TabPro S) have seen growing adoption and have now halted the decline in unit sales after the market took a battering following a collapse in sub-premium devices in 2014.
The market is on track to record sales of 3.21 million units by the end of the year, as consumers start to replace ageing tablets and computers with newer, more functional touch screen devices. The top four vendors in the first half of 2016 were Apple, Samsung, Microsoft and Lenovo — which collectively sold 80 per cent of units.
Revenue from the market is the highest it has been since the slump in first half of 2014. Revenues were up 33 per cent on the first half of 2015 as the market starts to embrace more expensive 2-in-1 devices rather than lower-end, slate-only formats.
Despite a fall in market share, the researchers believe Apple will retain its market leadership in the next 2 years as consumers replace ageing iPads. Apple continues to enjoy a repeat purchase intention rate of 80 per cent, according to Telsyte research, and many of the top selling iPad models from a few years ago are now unsupported, such as the third generation iPad (released in March 2012) and the iPad 2 (released in March 2011). These devices are no longer capable of loading the latest iOS 10 operating system.
The research also shows that one in five tablet users have already tried using their tablet with a keyboard (as a 2-in-1) including buying an aftermarket keyboard (or combination case/keyboard). Of these, nearly three quarters continue using a keyboard with their tablet regularly. The rise of 2-in-1s is expected to also drive demand for other tablet accessories, such as protective covers, styluses, port extensions and adapters.
One in five (21 per cent) tablets sold in the first half of 2016 were Windows-based devices, indicating a growing trend which has been driven by Microsoft-branded tablets. The research shows Microsoft retains leadership in the Windows 2-in-1 category.
Similarly, over 20 per cent of devices sold had screens above 10-inches, indicating a shift to using tablet devices for more than just portable content consumption. The researchers believe sales of Windows-based tablets will exceed Android-based unit sales within the next 18 months.
The Samsung Note 7 recall and eventual withdrawal may also impact Android tablet sales, say researchers, despite the Note 7 not being in the tablet category.
The study also includes estimates of computer purchase intentions, as the tablet and computer market increasingly merge. Findings show that a PC replacement cycle is due with more than 700 thousand PCs and Macs (without touchscreens) are expected to be sold in the second half of 2016 — with around 12 per cent of these units being Apple computers.