SEA tablet market hits $962M in 2011

More than 1.6 million tablets sold in 2011 in six Southeast Asian countries, bringing market worth to US$962 million, with Android as most popular operating system, research says.
Written by Jamie Yap, Contributor

More than 1.6 million tablets were sold in 2011 across six emerging economies in Southeast Asia (SEA), registering a total US$962 million for the industry, according to figures from GfK Asia, which added that Android was top-selling operating system (OS), accounting for nearly 1.03 million of the tablets sold.

"Tablet sales, which started off on a slower note at the beginning of [2011] has definitely taken off in this part of the world, as reflected by the exponential growth within the year," said Gerard Tan, account director for digital technology at GfK Asia in a statement Wednesday. The six countries surveyed were Indonesia, Malaysia, Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam, and the Philippines.

While five countries had consistent expansion over each previous quarter, Indonesia saw its unit sales growth nearly double in the fourth quarter last year, surging 97 percent to hit over 245,000, according to GfK Asia. This "steep sales surge" meant that several key manufacturers in Indonesia were successful in stepping up their marketing and distribution efforts nearing the end of last year, Tan explained.

The biggest market for tablets, however, was Malaysia where sales revenue for 2011 totaled US$374 million, it said.

Android for the "long haul"
Google's Android OS was the top-selling tablet OS among the six countries in 2011, accounting for nearly two in every three tablets purchased or about 1.03 million tablets altogether, GfK Asia revealed.

Gfk Asia also noted that Android's strong performance has since continued into 2012, raking in almost US$243 million in sales revenue within the first two months of the year, which grew its market volume to reach 70 percent.

The average price of Android-based tablets in 2011 was around US$531, whereas other OSes hovered at US$676, a "less attractive" price tag that was nearly 30 percent higher, GfK Asia pointed out.

Tan explained that the open source nature of the Android OS meant its tablets were generally priced lower than those running on other OS, and "its greater affordability encourages mass consumer adoption which in turn accelerates further development of its ecosystem".

"The combined muscles of numerous manufacturers have helped proliferate adoption of Android OS in SEA. This is a compelling factor for developers to create more applications to cater to market needs, leading to the tightening of gaps between Android and the reigning market leader," he said.

He added that the "good transparency" of the Android OS "bodes well" for the business vertical industry, where specialized applications can be developed and implemented to improve a company's productivity. "As long as Google continues fine-tuning and improving its Android ecosystem, this OS is here to stay for the long haul," he concluded.

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