The Middle East and Africa region has recorded a good tablet year-on-year growth during the first quarter of 2014. But, experts at IDC expect this growth to slow down due to an intensifying competition from smartphones and phablets.
The Middle East and Africa (MEA) tablet market recorded robust year-on-year growth in the final quarter of 2014, with holiday purchases and aggressive end-of-year promotions spurring a particularly strong performance in the consumer segment. The latest figures released today by global advisory services firm International Data Corporation (IDC) show that the overall MEA tablet market grew 26.1% year on year in Q4 2014 to total 4.43 million units, with the activities of several Far East manufacturers spurring significant annual growth in shipments of Android (33%) and Windows (131%) tablets.
“The telco channel experienced its highest ever rate of growth during the final quarter of 2014,” says Victoria Mendes, a research analyst at IDC Middle East, Africa, and Turkey. “There are a couple of reasons behind this growth – in South Africa, Vodacom, one of the biggest telecom operators in the country, introduced its own tablet and shipped approximately 170,000 units during the quarter, while in Turkey, local vendor Casper shipped around 100,000 tablets through the telco channel.”
Year-on-year growth of 16% saw Samsung continue as the leading vendor in MEA, with the Korean giant shipping a total of 886,000 units to the region in Q4 2014. And despite suffering a decline of 11%, Apple retained second place in the market, with shipments totaling 580,000 units. Lenovo remained in third position, but with year-on-year unit growth of 100% and volumes totalling 572,000 units for the quarter, the vendor is extremely likely to overtake Apple at some point during 2015. Asus maintained its fourth position despite shipments falling 7% to 206,000 units, while Turkish vendor Casper increased its shipments 80% to 180,000 units on the back of strong growth in the consumer and education segments.
“Moving forward, the MEA tablet market is expected to see a significant slowdown in growth,” says Fouad Charakla, a research manager at IDC Middle East, Africa, and Turkey. “This has become particularly evident since the start of the new year, with the MEA market set to experience its first ever quarter-on-quarter decline in Q1 2015 amid intensifying competition from smartphones and phablets. Nevertheless, the MEA tablet market is still forecast to post double-digit growth for 2015 as a whole, while other regions around the world will experience much bigger slowdowns or even declines. The consumer segment will remain the major contributor to this growth, but we also expect to see a huge contribution from the commercial segment in 2015, with education deals being a major driver.”
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Africa gets broadband boost
ITU and Nexpedience, a supplier of proprietary point-to-multipoint broadband infrastructure, are partnering to bring broadband access to Africa.
Under the terms of the deal, Nexpedience will provide 180 new Expedience base stations worth USD 1 million, to be deployed in six nations across the continent. The first nation to benefit from the new infrastructure is Burundi, with deployments also planned for Djibouti, Burkina Faso, Mali, Rwanda and Swaziland.
Designed to withstand extreme meteorological conditions and capable of providing up to 32 kilometres of sector coverage, Nexpedience’s base stations have been specifically designed for rural deployment.
ITU’s Wireless Broadband Network in Africa project aims to develop and implement wireless broadband connectivity and applications that will provide free or low-cost digital access for schools, hospitals, and under-served populations in rural and remote areas Africa-wide.
At the signing of the agreement in Geneva, Brahima Sanou, Director of ITU’s Telecommunication Development Bureau (BDT) emphasized the need to make developing countries part of the global broadband revolution: ‚”This partnership represents another important element in ITU’s efforts to bring broadband technology to the world even in the poorest nations. I am confident that this new partnership will accelerate broadband uptake right across the African continent, bringing the power of high-speed connectivity to users everywhere, from big cities to small villages.‚”
Kiriako Vergos, CEO of Nexpedience said: ‚”Giving access to broadband technology to underserved populations in Africa is of great importance to us. There are enormous benefits to be derived from a ‚’broadband-seed’ deployment strategy, and we decided to partner with ITU because we know that the organization has the team in place to get it done.‚”
ITU Secretary-General Dr Hamadoun Tour√© said the new agreement is a ‚”major step forward in getting Africa connected‚”. Dr Tour√© led the establishment of the Broadband Commission for Digital Development in 2010, which has the aim of putting broadband at the heart of the global development agenda.
Nokia backs tech hubs for developing world
Nokia, AppCampus and infoDev are collaborating with mobile innovation hubs across Africa, Asia and Latin America to act as scouts for local talent.
Nokia, AppCampus and infoDev, a global innovation program of the World Bank, have announced a collaboration with mobile innovation hubs across Africa, Asia and Latin America – a move that will empower these hubs to act as scouts and agents for local talent, fast-tracking their access to AppCampus funding.
AppCampus was established in 2012 as a mobile application accelerator program managed by Aalto University in Finland. With an 18 million euro joint investment between Microsoft and Nokia, the aim is to foster mobile application development on Windows Phone and any other Nokia platform.
The announcement earmarks part of that investment fund for twenty six awards per annum for the best mobile innovation ideas to be made via the mobile innovation hub network, starting with infoDev’s mobile application labs in South Africa, Kenya, Armenia and Vietnam, as well as mobile application laboratories in Egypt (TIEC), Nigeria (CC Hub) and Mexico. The value of each award ranges from 20,000 Euro (US$ 26,000) to 70,000 Euro (US$ 90,000) depending on the complexity of the solution or business model behind the idea.
‚”By working jointly with the mobile innovation hubs, we are able to connect more effectively with local developers in emerging markets and provide support in terms of funding, especially for locally relevant innovations,‚” says Pekka Sivonen, Head of AppCampus. ‚”Although the criteria to access the AppCampus funding remains the same, with ideas needing to be original, competitive and scalable, the advantage is faster processing and the mentorship provided by these innovation hubs.‚”
The hubs and mLabs will be responsible for scouting talent and vetting ideas to be submitted to the global pool. infoDev’s mLabs foster regional entrepreneurship, employment and competitiveness by providing open spaces where developers can find training, mentoring, technical expertise and access to financing. In a short time, mLab-supported startups have brought over 120 commercial apps to market The best new entries from this network will compete against each other each quarter for the available awards.
‚”Nokia, working closely with infoDev, has supported the establishment and operation of a number of mLabs across emerging markets in support of local developers,‚” says Jussi Hinkkanen, vice president corporate relations for Nokia Middle East and Africa. ‚”The AppCampus collaboration showcases our commitment to strengthening the growing mLab network around the world and infoDev’s vision of supporting emerging market entrepreneurs in conquering local, regional and global markets‚”.
The official launch of the program took place during the mobile stream at the Global Forum on Innovation & Technology Entrepreneurship in East London, South Africa, organized by infoDev and the South African Department of Science & Technology. A key theme of the Forum is how innovation can lead to high-growth entrepreneurship which creates sustainable jobs. Valerie D’Costa, infoDev’s Program Manager says, ‚”The AppCampus initiative fits with the philosophy of infoDev of supporting innovative entrepreneurs from developing countries. We want to support those who can excel with some level of mentorship, skills training and seed financing. We provide potential job-creators better access to markets, which is what we are all about.‚”