It takes two - why the tech crowd needs options - Gulf Business
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It takes two – why the tech crowd needs options

It takes two – why the tech crowd needs options

Screen size trends in smartphones, tablets and watches have been shifting, writes IDC MEA research analyst Saad Elkhadem

These days it seems that whenever a major tech vendor launches a new product, one version is no longer enough.

When Apple first released its iPhone and iPad devices, they were only available in one size. Fast forward to today, however, and Apple now appreciates that one size doesn’t necessarily fit all, with different consumers having different needs and preferences. So where we used to simply have the iPhone and iPad, consumers can now choose between the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, and between the iPad Air and iPad Mini.

The explosion of the Gulf Cooperation Council tablet market has been phenomenal since the devices first landed on these shores. Indeed, IDC research shows that up to and including Q2 2015, a total of 13 million units have been shipped in the GCC. That’s a truly staggering amount for a form factor that entered the market only a few years ago. And the subsequent diversification of screen sizes is a clear sign that vendors are striving to better serve the desires and motivations of their consumers.

Even Apple’s latest innovation, the Apple Watch, comes in two case sizes. The Apple Watch is the vendor’s first all-new device in quite a while. And although the watch has only been on the market for a few months, more than 1.3 million units were sold across Europe, the Middle East, and Africa in Q2 2015, according to IDC’s latest insights. It is also already the number-one smartwatch globally, and a key driver of its success is undoubtedly the fact that it is available in two different sizes.

On the topic of smartwatches, speculation has been swirling around the anticipated launch of the new Moto 360 device from Motorola. Last year, it was considered one of the hottest smartwatches on the market, mainly due to its stylish looks, attention to detail and round face. There was criticism, however, over its size. Many found it to be too big, and if the rumors are true, Motorola is going to rectify this by following Apple’s lead and launching two size options for the updated device.

A few months back, Samsung unveiled the Galaxy S6 Edge, a device that stood out in terms of design from anything else on the market thanks to its twin curved sides. A few months later, the company launched its big brother, the Galaxy S6 Edge, which is pretty much identical to its smaller counterpart, with the obvious exception of a larger screen. At IDC, we believe this move made perfect sense for Samsung as it bids to compete with Apple’s iPhone 6 Plus. It also gives consumers looking for a larger-sized premium device an alternative to the stylus-operated Note 5, which is certainly not to everyone’s taste.

Screen size trends in the smartphone segment have been shifting year on year, with vendors battling to ensure they do not miss out on the latest consumer tastes and preferences. To prove the point, IDC’s figures for 2012 show that 95 per cent of the smartphone market comprised devices with screens falling into the 0–5-inch size bracket. In contrast, that share stands at 53 per cent so far this year, with 5–6 inch devices accounting for more than 45 per cent of the market.

And the smartphone market isn’t alone in seeing a shift in demand based on screen sizes. In the tablet space, consumers traditionally gravitated towards smaller screen sizes as they looked for convenient, unobtrusive devices that could cater to all their digital content needs. In 2012, devices in the 7–8-inch band made up just over 30 per cent of the GCC market, a figure that today stands at 61 per cent. However, another trend is beginning to take shape in the region with bigger screen sizes now grabbing share. Indeed, by 2019, IDC expects the 9–10-inch and 10–11-inch brackets to account for 15 per cent and 21 per cent of the GCC’s tablet market, respectively.

With IDC forecasting smartphone shipments in the GCC to total more than 38 million in 2019, and tablets clocking in at just over six million units, the opportunities for vendors are immense. But the days of one size fitting all are long gone, so buckle up for options galore.

With inputs from IDC Middle East and Africa analyst Feras Ibrahim

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