Are tablets the next "big thing" in SA ?

This is definitely one of those controversial topics among marketers trying to dissect the past and discern the future. What will the future trends be in SA when it comes to high tech gadgets?

As we all know, Apple seems to be the word of the day when it comes to new gadgets globally and locally. The introduction of the iPhone and in 2010 the iPad brought a whole new dimension to tech savvy for the world and introduced a brand new word to our dictionary – the tablet.

Competitors soon followed suite on the new trend and started rolling out all kinds of tablets to the public. Each competitor trying to be more innovative than the next. The first competitor to fire its guns at Apple was Samsung with its Galaxy To be fair the Galaxy did get a heads up in the South Africa prior to the iPad. The Galaxy was released in September 2010 , while the iPad was only released yesterday (27 January 2011) to SA stores. So at least it seems that Samsung was on top of its game trying to gain some market share in this country before its major and leading competitor Apple.

The inside scoop though is that Blackberry wants to follow as well with the release of their “Playbook” at the end of April 2011, with Motorola short on its trail with the release of the “Xoom”. From the release of all these new tablet devices producers definitely seems to think that the tablet is the next “big thing” in SA. But is it?

A recent study done by Nielsen found that 8/10 people in SA would love to own a tablet. However, wanting something and actually being able to afford it  are two major different things when it comes to our country. In all honesty, if we earned Dollars I’m sure all South Africans would have a tablet or two in their drawers.

Tablets are definitely high end commodity in Africa, and definitely aimed at the higher end LSM groups. With the majority of South Africans digging deep into their pockets just to survive above the breadline; i don’t think this is something that would totally take over our country. Yes, a status symbol it would definitely be, especially under the higher income working groups. But all in all, only a limited group would in reality be exposed to this compared to the general population.

So how “big” is the tablet then among the higher income working groups. The ones that marketers seem to think wants (and can afford): a tablet, a smart phone, a laptop or notebook,  a cool car, an expensive house and a luxury holiday. It just seems that the high end products that are tailored to this group is completely flooded. How much can we actually afford guys?

As Marcel Wasserman said from Junk Mail publishing group at a local Digital Conference: “At most we would be able to afford one of these devices not all of them”. So at the end of the day if you had to say choose between an iPad vs an iPhone for example and you already own a PC, which one would win? Tablets might be “big” in the world, but if its truly the next “big”  thing in South Africa is yet to be seen.

However, if you really really want a tablet and don’t want to pay huge amounts of money, then check out this link for some cool tablets on the Junk Mail website.

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Henno Kruger

Digital Marketing Campaign Coordinator at Junk Mail Publishing.

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