By Matthew Southwell
When tablet PCs arrived in the Middle East last year, a number of vendors were full of enthusiasm. However, 12 months later, sales have fallen short of expectations so far.
When tablet PCs arrived in the Middle East last year, vendors were full of enthusiasm for the mobile devices, believing that they would take a significant chunk of the market and become a serious alternative to notebooks. However, a year later, and sales have so far fallen short of expectations. “When we launched the tablet PC, our target was 1,000 units a month... Have we sold 1,000 units a month? The answer would have to be no,” says Christoph Schell, general manager personal systems group for HP Middle East.However, it is not just the Middle East that has failed to deliver, as sales have been unimpressive across the entire EMEA region. According to Canalys, sales of tablet PC devices in EMEA in Q2 2003 fell 23% on the preceding quarter, with less than 100,000 tablets having shipped in the region since November’s launch. These findings are backed up by IDC, which reported a 31% decline between the first and second quarter of 2003.As far as Canalys is concerned, a lack of support from Microsoft has held sales back. “The fact that most vendors are only offering a single model and that Microsoft isn’t pushing the concept as hard as it could... leaves potential buyers with doubts over the industry’s commitment,” says Canalys analyst Rachel Lashford. Unsurprisingly, Microsoft has a very different take on the matter and suggests that the market will take off in the third and fourth quarters when IT managers begin to clear their budgets.