Carphone putting stronger focus on tablet market

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Retailer will move more away from laptops and focus on tablets, in order to take advantage of the latter’s “growth potential”

Carphone Warehouse is to distance itself from selling laptops and netbooks and will now focus more on tablet computers. A small number of Carphone Warehouse stores will sell a reduced range of laptops and netbooks.

Carphone Warehouse was the first high-street retailer to enter the laptop market, in 2008.

It made a £3 million training investment and quickly gained around 10 per cent market share from traditional PC sellers such as DSG and Comet.

This was done offering subsidised and free computers connected to a broadband contract.

CEO Charles Dunstone then stated Carphone would repeat the revolution it kicked off in the early 1990s, when it made mobile phones accessible to people walking in off the street.

Carphone will now focus on selling ‘pad’ and tablet computers. Carphone’s Best Buy locations will continue to stock conventional laptops.

Carphone currently sells the iPad and Samsung Galaxy Tab. It will soon stock iPad 2, Galaxy Tab 10.1 and is taking pre-orders for the Motorola XOOM.

“The tablet market has huge growth potential. Our ambition is to make The Carphone Warehouse the home of tablets,” said a Carphone spokesperson.

“Our ‘small box’ Carphone stores will sell connectivity devices, including tablets. Our ‘big box’ Best Buy stores will continue to sell a complete range of laptops, notebooks and
tablet devices.”

Analyst Gartner has recently reduced its initial forecast for PC sales in 2011 from 417 million to 387 million as a result of tablets.

The tablet market could be worth more than £43 billion globally in the next three years, according to some analysts.

About 18 million tablets were sold in 2010, and 10 million were sold in Q4, mainly because of the iPad.

Apple sold about 15 million iPads in this period. Sales were also buoyed by two million sales of the Samsung Galaxy Tab.

Gartner reckons tablet sales will reach 55 million this year. Ovum and CCS Insight predict tablet sales to double to 40 million in 2011.

Ovum said tablet sales will reach 150 million by 2015.

Everything Everywhere sells laptops through Orange and T-Mobile and the network says it will review its laptop strategy.

Three said sales of laptops remain an important part of its business. O2 exited the laptop market at the end of last year. It says it has seen a trend away from netbooks to tablet computers.

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