Samsung ditches notebooks in South Africa

Korean company moves focus to mobile in wake of declining PC market.
Written by Adam Oxford, Contributor

Samsung Electronics has announced that it is pulling out of the notebook market in South Africa, as sales of PCs and laptops across the whole region take a tumble.

The company says it will focus on its mobile phone and tablet business, which it sees as "aligned with the evolution of the technology market and the changing end user demands".

Samsung closed its laptop business in the eastern African market in the last quarter of 2013, where it was the clear market leader with 27 percent of share at the start of that year.

According to director of mobile communications for South Africa Craig Fleischer, the decision has been taken following increasing demand for tablets over laptop computers. In February, Digitimes reported on rumours that the firm was considering withdrawing from the notebook market globally in order to focus on Chromebooks and mobile. Rival Sony sold its Vaio business in the same month.

Samsung's announcement follows a report published by analysts at IDC, which showed that sales of PCs and laptop fell by 18.8 percent in South Africa in the last quarter of 2013 while tablet shipments more than doubled in volume.

Earlier this week, IDC published figures for the east African market — covering tech hotspots in Kenya, Rwanda, Ethiopia, and Uganda — showing a massive 31.6 percent decline in the market over the first three months of 2014.

According to IDC, the two most significant factors in east Africa have been the introduction of VAT in Kenya and logistical issues with imports held up in Dubai.

IDC's James Matua also says that vendors have failed to provide alternatives to low cost netbooks for developing markets.

"Huge volumes of low-cost mini notebooks were shipped to East Africa during the corresponding period of 2013, and these devices are no longer in production," Mutua said. "We expected the remaining vendors to take advantage of this gap by developing products specifically targeted at this market, but this has so far not materialised."

Samsung says that it will continue supporting existing South African notebook owners through its network of service centres.

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