Tablets, TVs and tunes: Harvey Norman GM tips Christmas favourites

By Claire Reilly

In the lead up to Christmas last year, tablets were being billed as one of the biggest sellers for the gift-giving season. The general manager of Harvey Norman’s computer division, Ben McIntosh, spoke to Current.com.au about the popularity of the devices, saying that it was going to be a “tablet Christmas”.

One year on, Current spoke to McIntosh about his picks for the most popular products that retailers will be selling in stores over the next twelve days. Tablets are still the big hit, but it seems that retailers can expect to see even more sales of these devices in 2012.

“Last year was very good in tablets, there’s no doubt about that,” said McIntosh. “But this year you’re talking about second and third generation products.

“If you look at the differences between last year and this year, there are more brands, and the second ecosystem, Android, has certainly developed to third, fourth and fifth generation releases. So it’s come in leaps and bounds in its quality, useability and popularity.

“I think the concept of a tablet is really resonating with consumers, because they can literally use that device anywhere in the house, sitting on the lounge or out by the pool, whereas a laptop isn’t as flexible as that, and I think that’s resonated with consumers.

“I can’t go into the numbers, but let me tell you, this year is making last year look pretty bad.”

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And in another boon for retailers, McIntosh also predicted that there was still space in the category for further growth.

“It’s still a fairly immature market and category, and obviously things do mature over time, but I think there’s a lot more growth to go yet. It’s still a very small base. I do not think that tablets are replacing laptops – I think people will have both.”

And for those consumers that aren’t into tablets, McIntosh has a number of picks that he expects to be big sellers this Christmas.

“The headphone category is going very, very well,” he said. “It’s only because it’s worth smaller dollars than tablets that I’d say it’s second. The growth rate in headphones is phenomenal – I’m talking about products such as Beats, SOL Republic, DNA and so on – they’re just going gangbusters.

“The other thing is big screen televisions. Usually at Christmas time, people aren’t replacing their big televisions – you’re usually talking about a small TV for a bedroom for a Christmas present. But big screen TVs are going very very well this year, compared to what I would have thought of for a traditional Christmas.”

In the premium TV category, McIntosh also said that Ultra HD TV – specifically LG’s high-end model was “selling well and truly above our expectations [and] we’re selling everything we can get”.

And finally, if celebrity-endorsed headphones are big, is McIntosh hoping for a set of Justin Bieber-branded headphones under the Christmas tree this year?

“I wish I had Justin Bieber’s bank account, put it that way!”

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