Tablets, the IT Hardware market’s most promising offering, are thriving in a declining market, but according to the purchase habits of Canadian consumers, bigger is by no means better. According to The NPD Group’s Retail Tracking Service, tablets are growing at five per cent and rank within the top five IT categories (notebooks, tablets, inkjet cartridges, desktops, and toner), but it is the smaller models – those with decreased screen sizes, memory, speed and price points – that have gained the most consumer interest and are now showing the most growth.
When looking at screen size, seven-inch models have had a unit sales increase of 24 per cent and now represent 18 per cent of overall sales. This is in comparison to 7.9-inch screens, whose sales have declined by 19 per cent (26 per cent market share), and the much larger 9.7-inch screens, whose sales have declined by eight per cent (34 per cent market share).
“Portability at affordable price is top of mind for consumers purchasing mobile devices because they’re typically using them on the go for small projects, quick research and activities that pass the time,” said Darrel Ryce, director of Technology and Entertainment at The NPD Group. “Smaller tablets likely won’t replace some of the more traditional IT products available, like desktops and notebooks, but they do need to be able to fit conveniently in smaller purses or bags for easy travel.”
In addition to smaller screen sizes, models with less memory and reduced speeds are attracting consumers as well. The majority of tablets (85 per cent) have either an 8GB, 16GB or 32GB memory built in, but the 8GB devices are showing the largest growth (up 23 per cent). At the opposite end of the spectrum, sales of the 32GB models have declined by 28 per cent. Further to this, owning a tablet with 3G or 4G capabilities is not a priority for consumers either, as devices without this functionality have an increased market share of 90 per cent, growing at 15 per cent.
“The consumer today is showing the market that devices that are not fully loaded are sufficient to meet their needs,” said Ryce. “Adding more into the device does not necessarily translate into increased sales.”
As more and more manufacturers provide new and updated products to retailers, it comes as no surprise that the most popular price points are also smaller. With competitive price tags and regular discounts, the low-end tablet market has increased by 12 share points since last year. Devices under $300, for example, now represent almost one third of the market (31 per cent) and are currently growing at 72 per cent.
“The IT Hardware market is ever-changing because there is a constant battle among manufacturers and retailers for the biggest share of a limited pool of consumers,” continued Ryce. “As penetration of tablets continues to increase in the Canadian market, opportunities exist with first-time buyers as part of the larger mass market, in addition to multiple ownership consumers. With both opportunities, price becomes a key factor in the purchase decision and 2014 is showing that shift to a more price-conscious consumer.”