The tech media has been sounding the death knell for tablets for at least the last five years. Yet while sales have certainly been in what looks suspiciously like terminal decline since around 2015, they are still sales. Over the past year, however, something strange has been happening in Australia. Back in 1897, Mark Twain wrote to a newspaper reporter that “reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated” or words to that effect.  

In Australia, at least, tablets must be tempted to do the same thing, as sales rose in 2022 for the first time in recent history – or at least since eight or nine years ago, which is practically another era in tech terms. Let’s see what’s going on.

A growing market for tablets

Conventional wisdom suggests that the boom in tablet sales about 10 years ago tailed off as smartphone penetration grew. Suddenly, practically everyone had a device that was genuinely portable, in that it could be slipped into a pocket and could do everything a tablet could do and more. Tablets were obsolete. 

Sometimes, however, conventional wisdom only gets you so far and there are other factors in play. The fact is that sales of the iPad, Amazon Fire, Samsung Galaxy Tab and other competing brands all showed a significant rise in the Australian market in the second half of 2022. There are now around 1.5 million tablet owners in Australia. That might not sound huge, but for a nation with a total population that just tops 25 million, it is significant. 

iGaming is a significant driver

There is no single factor that has driven this impromptu tablet boom, but a number of contributors that have all come together. Some have also caused tablet sales to rally, albeit to a lesser degree, in other countries. 

But one that is specific to Australia stems from the nation’s fondness for casino games. A quick look at the Gamble Online Australia website shows how many online casino platforms target the Australian market. Between 2020 and 2021, the number of Australians using these sites rose by 50 percent. It continued to rise even after land-based casinos reopened, albeit at a slower rate. 

Australians spend an average $500 per year just on slot games – that’s before we consider other types of casino games and gambling. However, the relevant fact, and the driver towards tablets, is that more than 70 percent of this expenditure comes from over-50s. This is a different demographic to your average gamer. These are people who grew up with Ataris, not X-boxes. 

With more than 80 percent of Australians accessing the internet using a mobile device, it is unsurprising that the idea of a larger screen and less fiddly buttons is suddenly a massive driver for sales – far more so than it would be for millennial or Gen-Z gamers. 

Australians love gadgets

A secondary reason, and one that applies in other markets, too, is that Australians love their tech and for many, this represents a good time to buy something new. Apple and Amazon, in particular, invested heavily in marketing their latest tablet offerings – and with good reason. Back in 2020 and 2021, sales of laptops and Chromebooks surged as half the world suddenly found itself thrown into a routine of remote working. 

The inevitable result is that sales of this type of hardware has tanked in 2022, and is likely to remain low at least until 2024, when those 2020 purchases start to approach the end of their lifespans. Yes, times are hard, but there are still tech-hungry buyers out there with money to burn. 

Apple and Amazon’s sales pitches did not fall on deaf ears, and when retailers started falling over themselves to sweeten the deal, the temptation was just too great. The events of 2020 and 2021 had all sorts of surprising consequences. But a renaissance for tablets? Now that’s something nobody saw coming. 

 

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