DUBAI: Tablet sales in the Middle East and Africa are growing significantly in both the corporate and home segments as consumers shun desktops and laptops in favour of lighter, slimmer products with longer battery life.

New figures from International Data Corporation (IDC), the market intelligence firm, show that shipments in the region were up 111% year on year in the final quarter of 2013 to reach a total of 3.45m units.

"This massive growth was mainly driven by the home segment, with numerous end-of-year promotions taking place in most countries across the region," said Adriana Rangel, research director for systems and infrastructure solutions at IDC Middle East, Africa, and Turkey.

Over the course of the calendar year the average selling price had fallen from over $400 to under $300.

The corporate segment also saw steady volume increases with the education sector leading the way. IDC highlighted Turkey's FATIH initiative, which aims to put tablet computers in the hands of every student from grade 5 to 12 – General Mobile had won a contract there to supply 50,000 units – and said similar developments were taking place in Egypt, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.

IDC expected the PC market would decline further in 2014, with the tablet market continuing to increase significantly.

"End users in the MEA region continue to opt for enhanced mobility, shifting to sleeker, lighter and smaller devices with longer battery lives," noted Fouad Rafiq Charakla, research manager for personal computing, systems, and infrastructure solutions at IDC Middle East, Africa, and Turkey.

"As a result, the shift from desktops to portable PCs and from portable PCs to tablets and smartphones continues apace," he said. He further observed that within the portable PC segment, there was a notable shift taking place from traditional notebooks to convertible notebooks and ultraslim notebooks.

The take-up of tablets by the home segment was being helped by telecoms operators across the region offering reduced prices and installment payment plans. But IDC warned that vendors would likely rethink their strategies as their margins were declining rapidly in a very competitive market.

Data sourced from IDC; additional content by Warc staff