Shrinking sales of iPad tablets bitter pill as Lenovo takes top spot

Put down your iPad – Middle East tablet sales shrank for the first time in the year to March, as the low oil price hit government tablet purchases.

Lenovo has also toppled the Apple iPad as the top-selling tablet in the region, it has emerged.

Tablet shipments to the region fell 5.83 per cent to 3.83 million units year-on-year, down from 4.07 million in the year to March 2014, according to data from the technology research firm IDC.

That was driven by a halving of tablet sales to Turkey, the region’s biggest tablet market.

The Fatih project, through which the Turkish government supplies hundreds of thousands of tablets to the 42,000 schools across the country, came to an end early this year, affecting the headline tablet sales figure.

“Currency fluctuations in Turkey, high inventory levels carried over from [the last three months of 2014], and some saturation in the tablet market also had a negative impact on shipments targeted at the consumer segment,” said Fouad Charakla, a researcher at IDC.

Lenovo tablets overtook Apple iPad sales for the first time, with the Chinese manufacturer selling 520,000 tablets to the Middle East, compared to Apple’s 430,000 sales.

The rise of big screen smartphones has dented global tablet sales.

“Bigger screen phones have taken the charm away from certain sizes of tablets,” said Ashish Panjabi, chief operating officer of Jacky’s, the electronics retailer. “The 7-inch tablets, in particular, have been eaten up by bigger screen phones.”

People are also holding on to their tablets for longer, Mr Panjabi said. “We have seen the rate at which people replace their tablets slow down,” he said.

Globally, tablet sales fell in the last three months of 2014 for the first time since 2010, when measurement began. IDC predicts that the tablet market will grow by 5.8 per cent this year – far slower than the market’s 41.6 per cent growth rate in 2014.

The company predicts that 1.4 billion smartphones and 234 million tablets will be sold worldwide this year.

Wearables such as Fitbit, Jawbone, and the Apple Watch are set to grow by 173.3 per cent to 72.1 million units this year.

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