Home » consumer computing » The tablet market in Q1-Q3’13: It was mainly shaped by white-box vendors while Samsung was quite successfully attacking both Apple and the white-box vendors with triple digit growth both worldwide and in Mainland China

The tablet market in Q1-Q3’13: It was mainly shaped by white-box vendors while Samsung was quite successfully attacking both Apple and the white-box vendors with triple digit growth both worldwide and in Mainland China

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Core information:

Details about Samsung’s strengths you can find inside the Samsung has unbeatable supply chain management, it is incredibly good in everything which is consumer hardware, but vulnerability remains in software and M&A [‘Experiencing the Cloud’, Nov 11, 2013] post of mine.

Note what was communicated in the 2013 global tablet forecast [Dec 11, 2012]:

  • imageDIGITIMES Research forecasts that global tablet shipments (including both branded and white box models) will overtake notebook shipments in 2013, growing by 38.3% on 2012 levels to hit 210 million units.
  • Shipments of branded tablets alone are forecast to reach 140 million units. That is the shipment of white box tablets is forecast to grow to more than 70 million units in 2013. [NS: Q1-Q3’: 62.6 million]
  • DIGITIMES Research also projects that global shipments of branded and white box tablets will top 300 million by 2015, with branded devices accounting for more than 200 million units and white box tablets for around 100 million.

My findings behind the title statement:

  • White-box vendors from Mainland China delivered 62.6 million tablets in Q1-Q3’13 vs. 35.4 million a year ago (76.8% growth) per DIGITIMES Research
    (the two latest sources used for that are included in the end)
  • Apple delivered 48.2 million tablets in Q1-Q3’13 vs. 42.8 million a year ago (12.6% growth) per IDC
    (the IDC sources used are the corresponding quarterly press releases)
  • Samsung delivered 27.3 million tablets in Q1-Q3’13 vs. 8.7 million a year ago (214% growth) per IDC (with a H1’13 correction from Samsung itself)
  • IDC’s latest forecast couldn’t take properly into the account the group of white-box vendors (44.6 million in “Others” category vs. 62.6 million), even more than a year ago (25.8 million in “Others” category vs. 35.4 million)
  • With such error for Q1-Q3’13 there was a 142.6 million strong worldwide market by IDC vs. 76.4 million a year ago (86.7% growth)
  • Together the white-box vendors, Apple and Samsung, as the market changing vendors/vendor group delivered 132.7 million tablets in Q1-Q3’13 vs. 86.9 million a year ago (52.7% growth)
  • Meanwhile the “Others” group (with improper inclusion of white-box vendors) by IDC delivered 49.8 million tablets in Q1-Q3’13 vs. 25.8 million a year ago (93% growth)


  • Mainland China had a 4.4 million strong tablet market in Q3’13 vs. the 44.6 million worldwide market as per IDC. Since white-box vendors sold 25 million tablets worldwide (according to DIGITIMES Reasearch) in Q3’13 vs. only 16.8 million sales in the ‘Others’ category by IDC we can safely raise the 49.8 million number by upto 10 million to upto 60 million. This means that in the current quarter Mainland China constituted at least 8.8% of the worldwide tablet market.
  • The sequential (Q/Q) growth rate on the Mainland China market per Analysis Int. is:
  • Meanwhile the sequential (Q/Q) growth rate on the worldwide market per IDC is:
  • This means that Mainland China has much less seasonality than the worldwide market, which is a sign of greater untapped tablet demand than in other markets of the world. Considering the fact that an unusually large group of local tablet vendors are playing the local brand game in China, while the white-box vendor game outside, any global brand tablet vendor should already participate in the Mainland China market in order to succeed worldwide. Lenovo, Samsung and Microsoft have clearly recognised this:

(the two latest Analysis International sources used for that are indicated later)


  • Samsung has dramatically increased its market penetration efforts in Q3’13 and succeeded quite well. In fact it was able to push back somewhat the growth rate of the group of local brand vendors (from 170% Q/Q growth rate in Q2’13 to 150% in Q3’13) while significantly increased its own growth rate (from 170% to a whopping 220%).


  • Therefore, if things stay as it is (see the above chart) Samsung will outgrow local brand vendors on the Mainland China market within a year.
  • Otherwise, if the group of local brand vendors will be able to withstand Samsung’s local efforts and significantly improve the value of their own brands, then the outlook may return to a view which could have been forecasted after Q2’13 (see the below chart):


  • Meanwhile two local brands, Teclast (台电) and Onda (昂达) each were able to beat two other global brands, Asus and Acer, on the Mainland China market in the last two quarters.
  • The group of ‘Others’, i.e. other local brands taken together were able to grow by similar rate in the last two quarters which shows that with an ongoing consolidation of the local brands (details ommitted here) a few local brands may join Teclast and Onda as the strongest local vendors which will have an opportunity to change their white-box vendor status abroad (and grow globally under their own brand as well).



The Q3’13 and Q2’13 Analysys International sources:
Nov 8, 2013: http://www.enfodesk.com/SMinisite/maininfo/articledetail-id-389539.html
Aug 28, 2013: http://www.enfodesk.com/SMinisite/maininfo/articledetail-id-376953.html

The Q3’13 and Q2’13 DIGITIMES Research sources:

China white-box tablet shipments reached about 25 million units in the third quarter of 2013, up 56.3% sequentially and 40.4% on year thanks to strong overseas shipments, which accounted for 80% of the total volume. Among white-box tablet shipments, 7-inch models accounted for the largest share, while 8-inch models, which were originally expected to become new star products, were unable to do so because of high costs from the bezel design and limited supply of 8-inch panels.
Although white-box tablets are expected to see extraordinary growth in 2013, they are also expected to face more obstacles and challenges in the future. First, they will see strong price competition from large brand vendors, which will offer Android-based products at price levels similar to those of white-box models. Second, the tablet market will gradually reach saturation and should no longer see demand as strong as before.
Third, white-box tablet costs have already hit the bottom margin, causing related assembly service providers and component suppliers to see limited profits. Several unhealthy players were already been eliminated from the market at the end of the second quarter, while the remaining players will need to rely on pumping up their shipments to support their profitability. However, such a strategy is unlikely to sustain for long, Digitimes Research noted.
Digitimes Research also found that white-box tablets in Europe or North America are mostly used as gifts in product promotions or bundling deals and therefore specifications are not as high as those of regular tablets. As for emerging markets such as Eastern Europe, Southeast Asia and Latin America, most consumers are buying white-box tablets with a single-core processor, because of limited purchasing power.
As for application processors (APs), 70% of white-box tablets with phone functions adopted solutions from MediaTek in the third quarter, replacing the solutions from China-based Allwinner, the original favorite. Digitimes Research estimates that the proportion of white-box Wi-Fi-only tablets using MediaTek’s solution will also increase dramatically starting the fourth quarter, further impacting China-based Allwinner and Rockchip’s AP shipments. In addition to low prices, China-based AP suppliers will also need to consider how to create additional value for their APs to survive the competition.
White-box tablet shipments reached only 15.9 million units in the second quarter of 2013, down 26.3% sequentially due to weakening tablet demand in May and June. Many smaller white-box players were also forced to quit the market, according to Digitimes Research’s latest figures.
Although white-box tablet shipments peaked in April 2013, increasing component costs and the fact that consumers are becoming more sensitive over tablet pricing, are impacting white-box players’ profitability.
For component supply, China-based chipmakers’ competition is gradually becoming fierce for both single-core and dual-core processors. In August 2013, some single-core processor prices were as low as US$5. By the end of 2013, dual-core processor will become the basic specification for entry-level white-box tablets, while mid-range models will turn to quad-core processor completely, Digitimes Research noted.
DRAM and NAND Flash remained at high price points in the second quarter of 2013, but as related players are increasing their supplies in the third quarter, prices are dropping.
As for panels, an entry-level 7-inch TN panel was priced at about US$10-11 at the beginning of the third quarter, and the price has been rising. Although the industry is seeing tight panel supply, the issue is expected to be eased as more panel players will open up new production lines to manufacture small-to-medium size panels in the first half of 2014.
White-box vendors’ over-optimism about demand in the first half created high tablet inventories for the vendors. Weak demand in Europe and North America has affected sales of both first-tier brand vendors and white-box players.
As for China, local first-tier brand vendors’ increasing sales have impacted white-box models’ demand in the country. Emerging markets such as India, Russia, countries in Eastern Europe, Latin America and Southeast Asia, are only providing limited contributions to white-box tablet players because shipments to these countries have just recently started.
Currently, strengthening their inventory management and expanding into overseas emerging markets will be important tasks for white-box tablet players to survive in the tablet market.

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