The Middle East and Africa (MEA) tablet market declined 24.2% year on year (Y-o-Y) in the final quarter of 2016 to total 3.07 million units, according to the latest figures announced today by International Data Corporation (IDC).

The global IT research and consulting services firm's Middle East and Africa Quarterly Tablet Tracker shows that for 2016 as a whole, tablet shipments in MEA declined 14.7% Y-o-Y to total 13.8 million units, which is in line with global tablet market's 15.6% decline over the same period.

"Tasks that were previously performed on tablets are increasingly moving to bigger-screen smartphones, so tablets are becoming redundant in the consumer ecosystem of gadgets," says Nakul Dogra, senior research analyst for client devices at IDC MEA."Indeed, consumers are now investing more time and money into smartphones than tablets, which has led to a slowdown of tablet markets around the world, not just here in MEA. That said, there are still countries in Africa that harbor scope for further tablet penetration."

In terms of vendor rankings, Samsung continued to lead the MEA tablet market in Q4 2016 with unit share of 17.6%, despite experiencing a significant decline in shipments of -28.0% on the previous quarter and -43.6% on the corresponding period of 2015. Lenovo remained in second place, increasing its share to 10.8% from 9.9% in Q4 2015.

Apple climbed into third spot, capturing 8.7% share despite suffering a -41.2% Y-on-Y decline in shipments. UAE-based vendor i-Life rose to fourth in the rankings with a market share of 7.4%, spurred by the popularity of its low-cost offerings. Huawei's shipments fell -39.6% Y-on-Y in Q4 2016 to account for market share of just 5.1%, a considerable drop from its 13.5% share in the previous quarter.

"With the lack of any noteworthy innovation taking place in much of the tablet space, there is little reason for the majority of consumers to upgrade to newer-generation tablets," says Fouad Rafiq Charakla, senior research manager for client devices at IDC MEA."This is prolonging the refreshment cycle for tablets in the region and causing an inevitable slowdown in the market."

Taking the above factors into account, IDC's tablet market forecast has been revised downwards. IDC now expects the market to decline -8.1% Y-on-Y in 2017 to total 12.76 million units. The longer-term forecast has also been revised downwards, with IDC now expecting the market to decline at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of -0.2% over the 2016–2021 period to total 13.64 million units in 2021.
"e-Tailers are expected to grow strongly in the coming years," says Dogra.

"Increasingly, local retailers are investing more in the online channel. Also, newer players are expected to enter the market in the coming year, which is going to further intensify competition in the online retail segment. The above factors, coupled with aggressive pricing, will further drive the growth of the e-tailer segment, with IDC expecting that by the year 2021, 12% of tablets will be sold through e-tailers in the MEA region."

The Middle East and Africa (MEA) internet of things (IoT) market is forecast to defy the region's moderate economic outlook by growing 19.6% year on year in 2017 to total $7.8 billion, according to a recent update to the Worldwide Semiannual Internet of Things Spending Guide from International Data Corporation (IDC).

This compares favorably to the healthy 18.1% growth seen in 2016, with IDC attributing the market's performance to the proliferation of digital transformation initiatives across the region as businesses and government entities strive to boost productivity and improve efficiency.

"The MEA IoT market is becoming increasingly competitive, enabling organizations to source a range of innovative digital solutions aimed at transforming business operations, improving the customer experience, and enhancing employee engagement," says Wale Babalola, research analyst for telecommunications, IoT, and digital media at IDC MEA. "Indeed, IoT now offers a myriad of industry-specific solutions that can be easily deployed by organizations in a bid to stay ahead of competition.

"IDC expects the manufacturing, transportation, and utilities industries to see the highest levels of IoT-related spending in 2017 as organizations across these verticals look to digitalize their operations and improve their value proposition across different lines of business. The commitment of service providers, application developers, and OEMs to developing purpose built end-to-end IoT solutions is serving as a major driver of the growing adoption we are seeing across the region."

Manufacturing organizations will lead the way in 2017, with IDC forecasting IoT-related spending of $1.3 billion for this vertical. The 'manufacturing operations' use case will account for more than 51% of this investment. 'Manufacturing operations' is an IoT use case that supports digitally-executed manufacturing and the way in which manufacturers use intelligent and interconnected I/O (input output) tools (e.g., sensors, actuators, drives, vision/video equipment) to enable different components in the manufacturing field (e.g., machine tools, robots, conveyor belts) to autonomously exchange information, trigger actions, and control each other independently.

The transportation industry is also forecast to see IoT-related spending of around $1.3 billion in 2017. The 'freight monitoring' use case is expected to account for $849 million of this figure, which aptly highlights the increasing importance of monitoring goods and improving productivity.

The use of IoT for freight management purposes (air, railroad, land, or sea) is based on RFID, GPS, GPRS, and GIS technology to create intelligent, internet-connected transportation systems. These systems perform intelligent recognition, location, tracking, and monitoring of freight and cargo by exchanging information and real-time communications via wireless, satellite, and other channels.

IDC forecasts IoT-related spending by MEA utilities to reach $918 million in 2017, with investments around 'smart grid' technologies to account for more than 82% of this total. Smart grids are rapidly gaining traction across the region as municipalities increasingly see the value proposition in deploying related solutions in an effort to efficiently distribute resources to their respective end customers.

"Numerous smart city projects are already underway across the region, and the propagation of such initiatives will continue to fuel IoT adoption by both public and private sector organizations," says Babalola. "Saudi Arabia and the UAE are leading the charge when it comes to smart cities, so it makes sense that these two countries will account for the highest contributions to overall IoT investment in MEA during 2017, with a combined value of more than $1.6 billion."

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