The Australian tablet market is entering a new phase of competition with Apple and Microsoft set to battle it out for touch screen device dominance.
That’s according to new findings from analyst firm Telsyte, which claims that across the country, 3.1 million tablet devices were sold in 2015, down from 3.8 million in 2014.
Despite a second year of decline however, Telsyte believes the market is set to grow again in 2016 as consumer appetite shifts to higher end 2-in-1 devices.
With the number of units sold dropping by 18 percent in 2015, industry revenues grew by two percent due to price rises, and a growing preference for premium products with a higher average sale price.
Sub-premium tablets, or those priced below $450, made up 48 percent of sales in 2014 but only 35 percent in 2015 - this share is expected to fall to 26 percent in 2016 as consumers embrace higher-end models.
“The impact of phablets, or larger smartphones, has been mostly towards lower cost smaller screen tablets,” Telsyte senior analyst Alvin Lee said.
The sales share of Windows-based tablets almost doubled in 2015 from 2014; however, the rise of Windows as a tablet platform was not yet enough to offset the overall market decline.
After a slow start, Lee said Microsoft is now "realising the tablet opportunity", producing its own Surface branded devices, but also shipping on Windows devices from Samsung (the dominant Android smartphone and tablet vendor) and traditional partners such as Dell and Lenovo.
In Australia, Lee said Android’s volume strategy is uncertain, with the lack of a “hero” device from Google or other vendors is holding back Android’s tablet potential.
Early 2-in-1 buyers more business focused
Early adopters of 2-in-1 tablets are more likely to be business professionals and career driven, according to Telsyte’s technology buyer research.
The study found 2-in-1 users are twice as likely to “keep up to date with technology developments”, twice as likely to “have used the Internet to share their creativity” and 1.6 times more likely to “want to get to the very top of their career”, than the average Australian (aged over 16).
Telsyte’s Enterprise IT research indicates nearly half of Australian businesses allow BYOD (Bring your own device) in the workplace, including tablet and notebook devices.