Buyers gobble up tablets

KASHKA TUNSTALL
Last updated 05:00 07/12/2012
Christmas gadget shopping
Fairfax NZ
Photo: Times graphic

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Tech giants Apple, Samsung and Microsoft are going head to head as Christmas gadget shopping fever builds in the Waikato.

With a string of new product releases for the festive season, Hamilton retailers say Apple is ahead of the pack in smartphone sales, but could still be edged out by Samsung Galaxy phones.

Retailers say demand for Apple's iPad mini is strong but stocks are getting lean.

Samsung's tablet, the Galaxy Tab 2, priced at $569, came out in March but is the best-selling tablet in Waikato stores.

That may be down to a lack of competing stock, retailers say.

Apple brought out the iPad mini, the smaller 7.9-inch version of its popular big brother, the iPad, early last month.

And, according to electronics retailers across the Waikato, the demand for the smaller tablet, which retails for $479 at the online Apple store, is high.

"The demand is there but the sales are low because we can't get stock in," said Harvey Norman Te Rapa manager Robbie Ahmed.

The store had two iPad Minis arrive yesterday morning but both were sold by lunchtime. Noel Leeming general manager of merchandise Jason Bell said within the Waikato and nationwide, the company's stores have had the same problem.

"We would have sold thousands and thousands but we haven't had the product," he said.

100% Heathcote Appliances' Tristram St store manager, Richard Morrison, said his store was selling truckloads of the Galaxy tablets.

Microsoft is yet to bring out its tablet solution, the Surface, so the closest loyal customers will get to a tablet this year is the HP Envy x2, a notebook computer with a detachable screen, which effectively becomes a tablet computer.

Mr Bell said the industry was concerned when tablets were introduced that they would replace notebook sales but the trend seems to be that Christmas shoppers are happy to buy the two items in tandem.

Notebook sales have largely remained unaffected by the introduction of tablets.

"Phones have always been very strong at Christmas and IT has always been very strong but with the evolution of tablets, the growth we're seeing . . . in tablets is a huge percentage," he said.

"It's a new, successful technology category."

Microsoft's Windows Phone 8 arrived in New Zealand stores last month retailing for $999 but it seems the iPhone 5, which came out in September and retails for $1049, will be the top-selling phone this Christmas.

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Ahmed said Apple phones are coming out on top in store with massive sales of both the new iPhone 5 and the slightly older 4S version.

It's largely the same story being told across the electronic shop counters in the region.

But Samsung's flagship phone, the Galaxy S3, which has been on the market since late May, costing about $850, is still a popular understudy to the iPhone and Mr Morrison reported that his store is selling as many Galaxys as it is iPhones.

So the battle is on to become the top-selling piece of technology for Christmas, but with stocks running low, there's no sure-fire winner.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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