Cheaper mobile phones from the likes of Huawei and LG have provided African users with a more cost-effective way to communicate.
However, there is an inadvertent by-product of this: fewer people are interested in tablets.
According to the latest stats from International Data Corporation (IDC), the tablet market in the region shrunk by almost 13% year-on-year in the first quarter of this year alone, pushing down sales numbers to only 3.32 million units.
This isn’t very good news, as it is the second quarter in a row that has seen a shrinkage in the number of tablets sold, as the last quarter of 2015 declined by 8.8%.
“We are finding that consumers are increasingly reluctant to replace their existing devices as the majority of tasks that were previously performed on tablets have now shifted to smartphones with larger screens,” explained Nakul Dogra, a senior research analyst for personal computing, systems, and infrastructure solutions at IDC, in a media statement.
Those users who have tablets have also been holding on to them for much longer, not buying new ones and not investing in new models.
“This reluctance has resulted in a lengthening of tablet replacement cycles, a phenomenon that has inevitably had a negative impact on overall demand,” he said.
Naturally, the dollar exchange towards African and Middle Eastern countries has played a huge role.
“The continued depreciation of key African currencies against the U.S. dollar including the Nigerian naira, the South African rand, and the Egyptian pound has also acted as an inhibitor, as poor exchange rates make tablets more expensive.”
But it is not all doom and gloom, as there is one segment of the tablet market that has actually gained in sales: detachable tablets.
Detachable tablets, essentially a tablet that can be docked into a desktop keyboard, now account for 4.2% share of the overall tablet market, with shipments up by a staggering 335% year on year in Q1 2016.
We have to say that we aren’t exactly surprised by the numbers. Smartphones not only have been released more frequently, but the phones have been made available at much cheaper retail prices than before.
So if you could buy a 5-inch smartphone that can do everything you want, or a tablet that can’t make voice calls, which one would you take?