Computer shipments in the UAE registered a small growth in 2016 for the first time in five years while tablet shipments suffered a 15 per cent drop, an industry expert said.
Fouad R. Charakla, senior research manager at International Data Corporation (IDC), told Gulf News in an exclusive interview that the last time the PC industry witnessed a growth was in 2011.
For the whole year, the PC shipments stood at 1,406,969 units compared to 1,393,693 units in 2015, registering a growth of one per cent.
He said that sharper declines have been registered in the region for the past few years, so it looks like the market has stabilised now.
“Among the highlights of the year 2016 which contributed to some growth in PC shipments were some large deliveries into the education sector of UAE and the emergence of some sub $200 (Dh735) priced PC brands,” he said.
He said 2017 is expected to witness flat to marginal growth for both PCs and tablets.
Convertible laptops, which can be converted to a tablet by a 360-degree hinge, and ultra-slim laptops are gaining share and are expected to continue gaining share this year also.
The market also saw laptops from Dubai-based brands like TouchMate and iLife selling for less than Dh700 and this has fuelled a growth in shipments.
TouchMate is selling a 14-inch Windows 10 laptop powered by quad-core 1.8GHz Atom CPU and coupled with 2GB RAM and 32GB memory for Dh598, while iLife is selling the same configuration for less than Dh500.
“A basic laptop from any brand is priced above Dh1,000 and we saw a big demand for these. Even though we don’t make any profits by selling at cheap prices, our intention is brand building,” said Vasant Menghani, managing director of TouchMate.
Microsoft is offering free Windows licence for any OEM for devices below 9.7 inches. TouchMate is getting Windows 10 and a 100GB cloud storage facility for $25 per unit.
He said that TouchMate had started selling the cheap laptops from November and selling on average 15,000 units per month.
“We are not getting the supply from January 15 due to Chinese New Year as all the factory workers are on leave till end of this week. After that, we expect to sell around 30,000 units per month,” he said.
Desktop shipments in the UAE saw two per cent decline and laptops saw 1.9 per cent growth in 2016.
Charakla said that the average selling price of a PC in 2016 was $562 compared to $578 in 2015.
“The focus of market players is shifting to profitability and sustainability rather than the market share as in the past. Pricing from multinational brands is not as aggressive as it used to be a few years ago and the brands are trying to improve their margins, inventory levels and channel structure,” Charakla said.
Meanwhile, the UAE market shipped 1,516,560 tablets in 2016 compared to 1,783,535 units in 2015.
IDC counts detachable PCs as tablets apart from the slate tablets.
Charakla said that many players have exited the market due to the high level of competition in the tablet space, and a lot of demand has shifted to mobile phones with big screen-sizes.
“Many of the consumers don’t feel the need to refresh their tablets where they find their PCs and mobile phones sufficient to fulfil their usage needs, prolonging the refreshment cycles for tablets and causing their shipments to decline,” he said.
He said that detachable tablets have more than doubled shipments in 2016 compared to 2015. Detachable tablets are expected to continue growing in terms of shipments, while slate tablets are expected to continue experiencing a decline.