NEW DELHI : The resurgent demand for tablets is being driven by government projects, the ed-tech sector and new office set-ups, while demand from retail consumers which contributed to the 28% rise in tablet sales in 2021, declined in the March quarter, said industry experts.
While India’s tablet market grew 68% from a year earlier in the quarter ended 31 March, government departments accounted for bulk of the orders, according to Cybermedia Research.
Navkendar Singh, research director, International Data Corp. (IDC), said, with laptop manufacturers failing to meet demand due to supply-chain issues over the past two years, the Union government and states placed bulk orders for tablets.
According to Tanvi Sharma, research associate, Counterpoint Research, the tablet segment had long been squeezed between large-screen phones and laptops, but 2021 was different considering that tablets were a more affordable alternative to laptops for the retail consumers as they scurried to set up remote working stations at home and for online education, apart from supply side issues for laptops .
However, with the fall in covid infections, while retail demand has declined considerably, government departments are driving tablet sales.
For instance, on 5 May, Haryana announced a personalized, adaptive learning programme, and appointed consulting firm Samagra to supply 500,000 tablets to students of grades 10, 11 and 12 for all government schools in the state.
Aditya Chopra, vice-president, Samagra, said it has won a tender to supply an additional 500,000 tablets for 9th graders. Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay, (IIT-B) is providing the software for the hybrid learning interface. Samagra is sourcing tablets from Samsung.
On Monday, Cybermedia Research said in a report that Lenovo, Apple and Samsung were the top three brands in the domestic tablet market.
Private edtech firms are also driving tablet sales and is the second-highest contributor for the device, said IDC’s Singh. “Byju’s, for instance, ships tablets as part of its education bundle. In fact, if they were to make their own tablets, Byju’s would probably be third or fourth in shipments by tablet OEMs in India."
However, despite the positive trend, experts said tablet sales are unlikely to see very high growth in the long run.
Singh said while commercial demand will compensate for falling retail consumer demand, 2022 tablet sales will be flat at about 4.3 million units. Smartphone makers such as Xiaomi and Realme are planning to launch new Android-based tablets to woo customers, but people are not likely to spend money on tablets over smartphones in the future, Singh added.