Argos is taking on Tesco with the launch of its own budget tablet computer in anticipation of a surge in sales of the gadgets in the run up to Christmas.
The catalogue retailer's pounds 99 no-frills 7" MyTablet is launching weeks after the appearance of Tesco's pounds 119 Hudl, 35,000 of which were bought over its first two days on sale.
More than 8m tablet computers are expected to be sold in the months before Christmas, double the amount sold last year when retailers including
Argos, which sold 1m tablets last year, enjoyed its strongest quarterly sales growth for five years over Christmas 2012 as tablet sales soared more than 50%.
Tablet devices are set to overtake PC sales this year with sales of 229.3m units worldwide, according to research firm IDC. The
Nearly a quarter of all online sales now come via mobiles and tablets but that is expected to ramp up over Christmas as the value of sales via tablet computers soars.
This spring sales rose 130% compared with the same period last year, according to online retail trade body IMRG, and that pace of growth is expected to continue. "Smartphones and tablets offer the kind of experience the modern consumer wants - quick access, wherever and whenever they want it," said
The market has been boosted by an influx of cheaper tablets challenging Apple's iPad. The MyTablet, which goes on sale later this week, will be one of the cheapest around but is entering a highly competitive arena where it will be up against more high-powered gadgets such as Google's Nexus 7 and Amazon's Kindle Fire as well as a new iPad which is expected to launch next week.
Argos's gadget has an in-built camera and comes pre-loaded with popular apps such as Angry Birds but offers less attractive features including a lower resolution screen, half the storage and reduced battery life compared with Tesco's Hudl.
"Consumers know and trust the brand behind this tablet," Blaber said. "Tesco and Argos are mimicking something Amazon started with the Kindle Fire. Their intention is broadly similar; to provide a device very cheaply and use that as a driver of their core business, retail."
Tesco's colourful Hudl tablet was designed to tempt more families to use its online services, including shopping sites and Blinkbox, a film and music streaming service. Argos is adopting the same tactic, with access to its shopping app pre-loaded on to the MyTablet.
The 7" MyTablet from Argos will retail for just pounds 99, but has a lower screen resolution and shorter battery life than its rivals
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