European tablet sales growing rapidly

“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,” said Arun Gill, Market Analyst with Futuresource Consulting. “Looking across the region, Western Europe accounted for 86% of total European sales in Q4 and 84% for the full year.”

During the period, Apple remained the market leader and experienced high demand for its new 7.9-inch iPad Mini, although limited supply resulted 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, Futuresource said. In the UK, Amazon capitalized 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,” said 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 was price. Across Europe, the average retail price for unbranded tablets in Q4 2012 was Euro 90, with the price for a basic 7-inch, 8Gb and WiFi-only model retailing for as low as Euro 60. In comparison, the average price for a branded tablet was Euro 433.

Greater availability of smaller and cheaper tablets has led to a decline in the average retail price, which fell 10% to Euro 353.

Despite this price erosion, Futuresource expects the overall value of the tablet market to climb, with strong growth throughout the forecast period to 2017.