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Tablet computers in France: are budget products challenging established brands like Apple?

By Chris Elliott

President Hollande announced his plan numérique pour l’école de la République starting in the 2016 school year. One of the targets of this program is for all middle school students to use a tablet to access digital textbooks and learn about computer programming.

This is not the first time President Hollande has invested in giving students tablet computers. In 2010, as Président du Conseil Général de Corrèze, he spent €1.6 million to provide 2,500 students and 800 teachers with iPads.

To fulfil the ambition of giving every middle school student a tablet, the government will need to source 45,000 tablets. It’s been determined that these will need to be manufactured by a French company to ensure they meet the requirements of the students.

French technology company Archos are the leading choice and recently announced it is developing a range of devices aimed at middle school students with an eight hour battery life and significant memory capacity to hold digital textbooks.

auchan-tablet-at-69.99President Hollande’s plan is timely as tablet sales continue to grow strongly. According to market research company GfK, tablets outsold desktops for the first time in 2013. Tablet sales jumped from 3.6 million in 2012 to 6.2 million in 2013 – an increase of 72.2 percent.

Apple is the clear market leader. Its web browser, Safari, in-built in all web-enabled Apple products, accounted for 77.4 percent of France’s tablet internet traffic in 2013 according to Statista. Android devices made up 22 percent of traffic, with remaining 0.6 percent coming from other operating systems such as RIM (Blackberry operating system), Linux and Windows.

Brand View has reviewed the pricing of Apple’s leading 9.7 inch tablet the iPad Air 2 and two of its Android competitors, the Samsung Galaxy Tab S and the Sony Xperia Z2 Tablet, across retailers Carrefour, Darty and Pixmania.

For the purposes of this example we have used the 16GB version of the iPad Air 2 in order to conduct a fair comparison.

The Apple iPad Air 2 is the most expensive tablet of those analysed in all three retailers. Pixmania is selling the iPad Air 2 for €459.99 – a promoted price that’s €40 less than Carrefour and Darty. Pixmania is also the cheapest retailer for both the Samsung Galaxy Tab S and the Sony Xperia Z2 Tablet.

The Sony Xperia Z2 Tablet is the cheapest in all three retailers. Darty is the most expensive for the Sony Xperia Z2 Tablet (€449.00), however this price includes a pair of Sony noise cancelling earphones. The earphones are not sold separately in Carrefour, Pixmania or Darty yet the average retail price in other French retailers is €35.

Average shelf price of tablets in Carrefour, Darty and Pixmania France

Apple, Samsung and Sony are facing increasing competition from other manufacturers with lower cost tablets. Looking at the other 10 inch, 16GB tablets available from Carrefour, Darty and Pixmania, we see there are eight tablets available, all for at least 25 percent less than the Apple, Samsung and Sony tablets previously analysed.

The cheapest tablet is the Poss Touch Tablet available from Carrefour for €159. The tablet was designed by Carrefour yet is manufactured by Chinese electronics company Haier.

The majority of these cheaper tablets fall into the €175 – €199.99 price range – less than half the price of the Apple, Samsung and Sony tablets.

Apple and Samsung both offer cheaper alternatives than the iPad Air 2 and Galaxy Tab S. Darty and Carrefour stock the first version of the iPad Air and all three retailers stock the Galaxy Tab 4.

However, the average shelf price of the Apple iPad Air 1 is €396 and the Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 is €262.30. This is significantly more than seven of the eight other cheaper tablets; the only tablet in this price range is the Lenovo Yoga 2 with an average shelf price of €281.50.

Product range by price in Carrefour, Darty and Pixmania

According to industry insiders in Japan, Apple will be releasing a 12.2 inch tablet called the iPad Pro, which will compete directly with Microsoft’s Surface Pro3.

The Surface Pro3 is available from Carrefour and Darty in five different specifications. The cheapest is the 64GB, i3 processor version which has an average shelf price of €778.96, the most expensive model is the 512GB, i7 processor model which sells for an average shelf price of €1,779.

Samsung also offer a 12.2 inch tablet, the Galaxy Tab Pro, however it has half the storage of the cheapest Microsoft Surface Pro3. It sells in Carrefour and Darty for an average €504, some 35 percent less than the 64 Go Surface Pro3.

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