European tablet computer sales reached 15.9 million units in Q4 2012, representing quarterly growth of 78 per cent and year-on-year growth of 179 per cent, according to the latest Tablet Track report from Futuresource Consulting.
“Now the final figures are in, our research shows Q4 2012 accounted for nearly one out of every two tablets sold in Europe last year, with the market reaching 35.4 million sales for the full year,” says Arun Gill, Market Analyst with Futuresource Consulting. “Looking across the region, Western Europe accounted for 86 per cent of total European sales in Q4 and 84 per cent for the full year.”
Competitively, Apple remained the market leader and experienced high demand for its new 7.9-inch iPad Mini, although limited supply capacity did result in some missed opportunities.
Samsung saw success with a range of new tablets, particularly the competitively-priced Galaxy Tab 2. The release of the Nexus 10 in collaboration with Google may help to challenge Apple’s dominance in sales of larger-screened tablets.
In the UK, Amazon capitalised on increasing demand for smaller tablets and retained a comfortable market share with the release of its Kindle Fire HD. Asus and Google’s Nexus 7 also gained from increasing demand for smaller tablets, and the high sales volumes reflected the assault that cheaper Android tablets are making on Apple’s market share.
“A key trend in the second half of 2012 was the emergence of a ‘white label’ tablet market, comprising of cheap tablets manufactured in China and rebranded for sale both domestically and internationally,” says Gill. “Across Europe, around a third of tablet sales in 2012 were for these unbranded Chinese manufactured tablets, with the rest of the sales attributable to the key international branded products.
“The key driver behind the demand for unbranded tablets is price. It’s as simple as that. Across Europe, the average retail price for unbranded tablets in Q4 2012 was €90, with the price for a basic 7-inch, 8Gb and WiFi-only model retailing for as low as €60. In comparison, the average price for a branded tablet is €433… As a comparison, Chinese domestic tablet market sales reached 26.6 million units in 2012 and half of this volume consisted of unbranded tablets.”
Greater availability of smaller and cheaper tablets has led to a decline in the average retail price, which fell 10 per cent to €353.
Despite this price erosion, the overall value of the tablet market will continue to climb, and prospects for the industry are extremely positive, with strong growth throughout the forecast period to 2017.