Getting Smart

Tablets and smartphones have opened doors to big solution sales in every technology category.

Tags: ASUSTeK Computer IncorporatedAcer IncorporatedJacky's Electronics
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Getting Smart Mark Prosser, product marketing manager, mobility products, Acer Computer ME
By  Clayton Vallabhan Published  January 23, 2013

Tablets and smartphones have opened doors to big solution sales in every technology category. Everyone from software makers to peripherals vendors have come to the table with new products. How is mobility changing how the business world works and what opportunities are there for resellers in the Middle East?

A decade ago you would have been called loopy if you told someone that they could soon read newspapers and magazines on their phones.

Today, things are different. Tablets and smartphones have witnessed explosive growth and reached the corners of the new world with everyone around the world being able to afford a device. Competition has intensified among vendors and this has lead to phenomenally short refresh cycles for smart devices. Consumers now have the option of buying the latest and greatest devices complete with quad-core processors and the latest proprietary OS.

Mobility has not just affected the consumer segment; the enterprise segment too is quickly adopting tablets and smartphones for its employees, with some employers opting for BYOD. These devices increase employee efficiency, by allowing them to access company email and data that they need while travelling or out in the field.

Research firm IDC has raised its 2012 forecast for the worldwide tablet market to 122.3 million. This is up from its previous forecast of 117.1 million units. For 2013, the estimates have jumped to 172.4 million units. The research also forecasted that by 2016 there will be 282.7 million tablets shipped worldwide.

“Tablets continue to captivate consumers, and as the market shifts toward smaller, more mobile screen sizes and lower price points, we expect demand to accelerate in the fourth quarter and beyond,” said Tom Mainelli research director at IDC.

With forecasts looking pretty great, the Middle East channel is fortifying itself with the phenomenal boom.

Mohamed Samy, business development director at Axtrom said: “To help our channel ready themselves for the tablet boom, we have been providing them with our carefully planned product roadmap, updating them about the technology trends and training them on the features and benefits of our range of tablets so that they are well equipped to explain the technological difference to the customers.”

He advised vendors and resellers that tablet PCs have become a must have gadget for a lot of people, much like a TV and mobile phone. Hence, they should be ready and keep themselves updated about the variety of tablet PCs in the market and rapidly changing technology trends, in order to procure the right stock and serve market demand.

Mark Prosser, product marketing manager, mobility products, Acer Computer ME, said that Acer works closely with its channels and has been concentrating on the ‘customer experience’ on the retail side of things.

Prosser said: “This includes an attractive setup with functional and connected devices and sales persons who really know the products.  We educate on different usage models and ensure that our partners and teams are always up to date on the current and future trends of these new devices.”

On the SMB and corporate side it is about educating our partners on the usage models and working with them to ensure that we are providing a solution to our customers on these new devices rather than just selling a device.  Focus is on how customers can add these devices to their secure networks and get secure mobile productivity out of the solution.”

He also said with BYOD on the increase there is no one solution fits all, so vendors need to design and bring to market multiple options that cater for a customer who wants choice.  “Resellers have the key role of really understanding the usage and work requirements of the customer.  This is a key question that needs be answered correctly as this is the work tool the customer will use and the employer will plug into a network,” continued Prosser.

Remarking about Dell’s channel strategy, Ralf Jordan, GM distribution, Dell, EMEA Emerging Markets, said: “Dell operates highly structured channel partner programmes in the Middle East and every time we acquire a new company or introduce a new product we add and update to our partner programs accordingly. These programmes allow channel partners to get up to date with the latest technologies and meet the demand that is there for tablets and other computing devices.”

Ashish Panjabi, COO of Jacky’s Electronics, brought in a retail perspective and agreed with Prosser about the need for continuous training and a quality customer experience. He also said that with the rise of BYOD, corporate policies no longer were in play in deciding which device the employee buys. “The decision for what the user wants is no longer determined by corporate policies but by what the user sees on the retailer’s shop floor.  This should also then reflect in the trainings that brands provide retailers as this trend continues to grow,” said Panjabi.

Along with the continuous growth in the smartphone and tablet sector, it is also important to evaluate which operating system is the most popular. IDC has reported that the share of Android based smart devices is growing at the highest rate, compared to other OSs.

Leon Yu, regional director, Asus said: “Amongst the tablets, the popular operating systems are: Apple’s iOS, Android, and now Microsoft. Besides Apple which is single-vendor, Android is one of the most popular OSs as it is used by multiple vendors. As IDC has rightfully highlighted, the growth in tablet sales is expected to come heavily in the Android segment which is where Asus has invested heavily by developing an array of high end and mainstream tablets for different demographic and spending power segments. We do feel that Windows 8, the latest entrant, will also grow with time.”

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