Tablets gaining ground

  • Sales have continued to grow over the past three years.
  • Their versatility appears to be the key factor.
  • Research shows that there is more than one per household.
  • This tool has been gaining popularity among those 55 and over.

Smartphones and tablets are some of the most favored purchases for the festive period. This is confirmed by French daily Les Echos by means of a study by the GFK Institute, which listed the ten top technological products that will crown Christmas wish lists. “Belgians are likely to prefer tablets over smartphones when making their end-of-year purchases,” predicts Alain Brys, IT and Office consultant for GDK Belgium.

This forecast is based on numbers. The growth of tablet sales has been increasing over the past three years: almost three million have been recorded in that period, half of which were purchased this year alone. “20% of the tablets purchased last year were bought during the month of December,” adds the expert, who’s expecting even higher figures during the last month of this year. Estimates indicate that 30% of the 4.7 million Belgian households possess this type of device, compared to 12% in 2012. Growth forecasts are even more impressive. Vincent Fosty (Telecom & Media Partner with Deloitte Belgium), who authored a recent study on the topic, states that tablets are at the top of the list of prospective mobile device purchases over the next twelve months. “One fifth of Belgian consumers (22%) are planning to purchase a tablet in the next year. This will raise the market penetration of tablets by 50% in 2014.”

The tactile device’s success is not accidental. It has many uses. Belgians use it to call each other (using video to see the other speaker), watch videos, listen to music, take pictures, surf on the internet, make purchases, send and receive messages, download games and applications and even watch television shows (in many households, the tablet has replaced the second television set). They do all this with the same mobility offered by a smartphone along with greater visual comfort through screens that are seven to ten inches larger.

The comparison to smartphones is hardly inconsequential. More and more Belgians are developing the same type of relationship with their tablet as they do with their smartphones. Everyone in the household wants his own. Fosty comments, “One out of five tablet users shares his device with other household members.” This offers significant room for growth in that sector.

Sales should increase by two million tablets next year in Belgium” claims Brys. “This does not come as a surprise as people are increasingly looking to this type of product to replace traditional desktops and laptops.” For where there are newcomers, there are trailblazers, who first acquired this device two or three years ago and are ready to upgrade to newer models with new functions and better connectivity in the coming months. In this sector innovation stimulates demand. Tablets will then enter half of all Belgian households. “Due to our ever-increasing media consumption, tablets are even replacing the bedroom television,” observes the GFK Belgium consultant.

The rate of tablet penetration in Belgian households within the next two years should be higher than 100% with more than one device per household,” explains Brys. This progress is made possible by the affordability of the increasingly coveted device. The price has decreased by 20% over the year and now hovers around €320. The arrival of new competitors in the market will continue to push prices down. Microsoft, Acer and even LG are determined to eat into Apple and Samsung’s lead.

We are not yet in a mature market,” points out Brys. In plain English this means that the tablet has a bright future.

PASCAL LORENT

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