More and more South African consumers and businesses are investing in convertible or two-in-one mobile computers as they seek devices that offer them the versatility and functionality of a traditional notebook, paired with the portability and easy media consumption of a tablet computer.
That’s according to George Moss, Dell CSG business unit manager at Tarsus Distribution, who says that sales of two-in-one form factors are starting to rise rapidly in South Africa as manufacturers such as Dell continue to improve the features and specifications of the devices and bring a wider range of models to market to address the needs of different niches.
“Two-in-one Windows devices have been available for several years, but uptake has been relatively slow to date,” says Moss. “One reason for this was that the general market-pricing, across all major vendors, was expensive compared to a tablet or traditional notebook, restricting the potential size of the customer base. In addition, purchasing a two-in-one used to mean making some trade-offs in terms of power and battery life.”
The market has changed, however, with the likes of Dell bringing out a bigger selection of two-in-one products, ranging in price from R11,000 to R35,000, says Moss. “The result is that the form factor is starting to find favour both with people who need a mid-range workhorse and those who want something a little more powerful,” says Moss.
The rise of the two-in-one is one of the factors that is putting the tablet computer market under pressure. Point of sale tracking data from GfK South Africa for the first quarter of 2018 reflects a 38.9% year-on-year decline in tablet revenues, despite the fact that the wider mobile computing market grew 6.5% year-on-year in the same quarter.
“Tablet computers still have a place in the market, especially at the lower-end, with products in the sub-R2000 price band,” says Moss. “But outside of some niches—they’re popular as a kids’ media consumption device, for example—tablets are getting squeezed between smartphones with larger displays and better screen quality and the wider choice of two-in-ones.”
Moss says that 13 inch two-in-ones are becoming popular with users who no longer want to purchase both a tablet and a notebook or laptop. Integration of features such as docking—which Dell recently added to the consumer models in its product range—and USB-C—a standard that offers faster data transfer speeds—is also boosting interest in two-in-ones.
“Two-in-ones today perform well in tablet, tent, and other modes, while retaining the practicality and functionality of a regular laptop,” says Moss. “Convertibles and other two-in-ones remain a small part of the overall PC market, but are growing into an interesting opportunity for the channel in a mobile computing sector that is mostly slow and flat.”