Sales of 3G tablets collapsed across Western European in the first quarter of 2104 despite a fall in average device sale prices from €271 to €181, according to industry analysts Context.
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The decline is attributed to growth in Wi-Fi only tablets with the analyst house measuring channel sales of 3G, 4G and Wi-Fi only tablets in 18 countries across the region, taking in distributor sales to corporate resellers, retailers, small and medium resellers and phone shops.
It discovered that distributor sales of 3G tablets almost halved in the first quarter of 2014 compared to the same period a year ago. In the UK 3G and 4G enabled tablet sales in Q1 fell by 34% compared to a year ago.
Christine Pygott, senior analyst, Context, said: “When confronted with paying a premium for a 3G or 4G model, which for some vendors can be an eye-watering 25% premium, users are just saying it’s not worth it.”
The research also revealed that Europe-wide sales of 4G tablets made a modest 10% increase over the past 12 months surpassing 3G sales for Q1 2014.
The UK, long considered Europe’s early tech adopter and barometer for other countries, recorded one of the biggest declines in unit sales of 3G equipped tablets in Q1 2014 of 82%. By contrast, UK sales of Wi-Fi only devices grew by 36% over the same period.
In other European countries, there were also large declines in unit sales for 3G tablets in Germany of 58%, Spain 49%, and France 72%. However, some countries recorded sales growth over the period, including 102% in Italy and 45% in Sweden.
Pygot added: “Wi-Fi only tablets have been the dominating category across distribution for more than a year and have since steadily outgrown sales of mobile networked alternatives."
Context further noted that the average European selling price of Wi-Fi only tablets dropped slightly, from €251 at the beginning of 2013 to €230 in Q1 2014, with little change over the past three quarters.