UK’s Argos set to take on Tesco with £99.99 tablet

Reuters, LONDON

Wed, Oct 16, 2013 - Page 15

Britain’s Argos has entered the intensely competitive tablet computer market with a £99.99 (US$160) own-brand product that is 16 percent cheaper than one launched by Tesco, the UK’s largest retailer, last month.

Argos, owned by Home Retail, yesterday said its MyTablet would be targeted at teenagers, taking on a market dominated by Apple, Samsung and Amazon.

Tesco sold 35,000 Hudls in two days following its Sept. 30 launch — the fastest-selling tablet launch ever seen at the retailer. Argos is keen to tap into this growing segment as part of its reinvention from a catalogue-led to digitally-led business.

Home Retail has posted five straight years of profit decline and hopes the change of direction for Argos will result in a 15 percent rise in sales to £4.5 billion by 2018.

Like Tesco’s Hudl, which is priced at £119, Argos’ MyTablet has a seven-inch screen, runs Google’s Android operating system, comes with pre-loaded apps and is enabled for Internet browsing, TV, music, video streaming and social networking. However, MyTablet only has 8 gigabytes of standard memory compared with 16 on the Hudl. It also has a lower-resolution screen, inferior battery life and is only available in two colors versus the Hudl’s four.

Both devices will compete with Amazon’s Kindle Fire, which retails for £99, Google’s Nexus 7, which costs £199 and Apple’s iPad mini, which sells for £269.

“Millions of people have bought tablets during the last year, but there is still around 75 percent of the UK population without one,” Argos managing director John Walden said.

Market research company EMarketer estimates there are 19.7 million tablet users in the UK, up 39 percent from a year ago.

Both Argos and Tesco sell a range of branded tablets.

Sebastian James, CEO of Dixons Retail, said last month that although there is a market in Britain for cheap tablets, consumers were often disappointed by purchases.