Tablet PC with cloud of application iconsThe Middle East and Africa (MEA) tablet market recorded a 2% quarterly decline in shipments during the second quarter of 2014 to total 3.95 million units, according to the latest results released today by International Data Corporation (IDC).

This is against a backdrop of the MEA market remaining the world’s fastest growing region as it continues to be an area of focus for all vendors operating in the tablet space.

“The reasons for the quarter-on-quarter decline in Q2 2014 were twofold,” says Victoria Mendes, a research analyst at IDC Middle East, Turkey, and Africa. “We anticipated a slowdown in the Middle East due to the traditionally slow summer and Ramadan period, but there were also inventory pileups from the previous quarter in some parts of Africa and the Middle East, and these served to amplify the market’s deceleration.”

Samsung’s 862,000 units in Q2 2014 were more than enough for it to hold onto first place in the market, despite suffering a double-digit quarterly decline. Its closest rival Apple remained in second place after shipping 622,000 units for the quarter. Lenovo returned to the top three with 420,000 units, courtesy of a very strong push from the vendor as it targeted the region with numerous new tablet launches. Another vendor making great strides in the region is Asus, which climbed back to fourth place with a total of 284,000 units shipped in the quarter. Rounding out the top five MEA tablet vendors for Q2 2014 was General Mobile with 282,000 units, primarily the result of a very large education project delivered by the vendor in Turkey.

“The tablet market is undoubtedly witnessing a shift in terms of vendor shares,” continues Mendes. “Traditional PC vendors, such as Lenovo, ASUS, Toshiba, HP, and Acer, are becoming much more aggressive in terms of their product launches and pricing strategies, and this is driving a considerable shift in consumer demand from low-cost Far-Eastern players to these Tier-2 brands. Furthermore, the two tablet giants, Samsung and Apple, saw their combined share fall six percentage points to 37% in Q2 2014, a trend that is expected to continue as consumers increasingly opt for the best of both worlds in terms of price and quality offered by the traditional PC vendors’ new releases.”

This increasing competition in the MEA tablet space is spurring a new approach from the market’s two dominant forces, according to Fouad Charakla, research manager at IDC Middle East, Turkey, and Africa.

“With Samsung launching its 12.2 inch Galaxy Tab Pro this year and expectations of Apple launching a 12.9 inch iPad in 2015, it is clear that even these vendors are trying to expand their product ranges to include various sizes,” he says. “This comes amid concerns that they may miss out on new opportunities by restricting themselves to smaller devices, and these bigger screen sizes may also prove to be a better platform for penetrating the commercial space.”