What tech is selling well in South Africa, and what is not

Smartphones are selling well in South Africa, but laptop and desktop PCs are not faring as well.

This is according to research from GfK South Africa on tech sales in the country during 2017.

The company said smartphone sales climbed by 21% in 2017, even as South Africans reduced their consumer technology spending.

“Smartphone sales in South Africa climbed from around 10 million in 2016 to over 12 million in 2017,” said GfK.

Much of this growth was driven by the adoption of entry-level smartphones from second-tier brands, it added.

“Sales of basic mobile phones dropped 11% in 2017, as users continued to migrate to smartphones.”

Tablets and laptops

Storage, media streaming device, and speaker retail sales also saw healthy growth last year, said GfK.

In contrast, tablet, desktop, and mobile computer sales all experienced sharp sales declines.

“Electronics, telecommunications, and information technology retail experienced a difficult year in 2017, as consumers tightened their belts in response to economic difficulties in South Africa,” said GfK.

Sales in the information technology segment declined by 25% in 2017, which was largely due to a “continued deterioration in sales of media tablets”.

This product category saw a sales decline of 40% – to less than 1 million units.

“Large-screen smartphones are cannibalising tablet sales, as users choose to buy a better smartphone rather than a new tablet,” said GfK.

Mobile computer sales also dropped by 15%, and desktop sales fell by 29%.

“Desktop and mobile computer manufacturers continue to address weak sales of their devices by selling more affordable, lower-specced machines with older-generation processors, less RAM, and smaller screen sizes,” it said.

Despite the above, and low-end platforms like the Intel Celeron accounting for over half of the market, sales of devices packing an Intel Core i5 or Core i7 grew during 2017.

Storage and TVs

GfK said storage sales saw good growth in 2017.

This was due to increasing shipments of PCs with SSDs that have low storage capacities – driving growth for external storage.

When it comes to TVs, large-screen TVs and premium models have fared well, thanks to strong Black Friday 2017 sales.

“Despite strong Black Friday sales, the panel TV market for the full 2017 year was flat,” it said.

UHD 55-inch screens also showed a significant decline in sales, added GfK.

The report concluded with notes on the speaker market – with loudspeakers reaching a “record-high in sales value during the fourth quarter of 2017”, while home audio system sales dropped significantly during the quarter.

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What tech is selling well in South Africa, and what is not