IDC: China’s iPad market share slashed by strong home-grown competition

apple store china line

In every analysis listing market share, there is that mysterious ‘Other’ category which lumps together all the lesser-known players. Now comes word ‘Other’ is making a name for itself, as the Apple iPad’s share of the increasingly important China market was almost cut in half during the second quarter.

Researcher IDC said Tuesday Apple’s tablet market share in China fell to 28 percent during the second quarter of 2013, down from its usual level above 50 percent. Some 46 percent of tablets shipped to China were made by ‘Other’ tablet brands, often low-cost Android devices, according to the research firm…

Apple shipped 1.5 million iPads to China during the second quarter, a drastic drop from the 3 million during the previous quarter. The reduction “is probably the result of Apple reducing iPad inventory in preparation for its next generation tablets,” writes MacWorld, citing IDC analyst Dickie Chang.

New versions of the full-size 9.7-inch iPad and the smaller 7.9-inch iPad mini are expected later this year. A common belief by consumers is why buy the current version now when updates are the on the way, prompting a slowdown of Apple product sales ahead of new product releases.

IDG (tablets in China)

However, another explanation – and one potentially posing longer-lasting headaches for Apple – is that China’s tablet market is maturing and consumers are realizing home grown alternatives offer the same Android operating system and features as bigger name iPad rivals.

The consumers are becoming more familiar with the tablet product. They can use Android tablets from Samsung, Lenovo, and others from small white box guys because the price is cheap.

Just how cheap?

For $113, a Chinese tablet buyer can get a quad-core processor, an eight-inch screen and a five-megapixel camera.

iPad in hands (two-up, iPad, iPad mini)

Although Samsung and Lenovo tablet shipments to China increased in the second half, it’s unclear whether that trend will continue. Both Android tablet makers also have to worry about the growth of these so-called “white box” tablet manufacturers since the two companies do not have much market share wiggle room.

According to IDC, Samsung has eleven percent of the China tablet market while Lenovo has just eight percent. They not only have to worry about a resurgent Apple powered by new iPads, as well as stronger local Android providers, but Amazon has entered the China tablet market with its Kindle.

As for Microsoft’s Surface tablet, it’s best showing apparently is in well-lit television commercials. The gizmo giant has only one percentage point of China’s tablet market, according to IDC. In fact, of the 37,000 Surface tablet shipped to China in the second quarter, the majority sold were the roundly-belittled Surface RT.

All in all, the IDC China numbers may initially be viewed as a blow to Apple’s tablet leadership, however the rise of the ‘Other’ should also start Android players shaking in their boots.

If home-grown Android tablets can capture the market for inexpensive devices and Apple retains its brand appeal among the wealthy and fashionable, all that’s left is the middle ground.

Oh, that’s right, there’s Amazon’s Kindle.

We are indeed headed for a bumpy ride.