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Unbranded tablets catching up with iPad

Whitebox tablets have been mostly unnoticed so far, but they now stand solid at second place. These tablets are mostly being lapped up by students who are attracted by their low prices.

We are sure Apple would not have thought of competition from this section of the market. Non-branded tablets, also known as whitebox tablets, have increased substantially in the first quarter of 2011, next only to iPad from Apple, says a report by a market research firm.

The research firm, DisplaySearch, says non-branded tablets are globally the fastest growing market in this segment. The shipments of whitebox tablets stood at 567,000 in the last quarter of 2010 (October-December) and the number increased to 1.9 million tablets in the first quarter of 2011 (January-March). The quarter-to-quarter growth rate has been a whopping 235 per cent, says the report.

The whitebox tablet segment has mostly been ignored so far, but it now stands solid at second place, right behind Apple. “Price is a significant influence on any consumer product, and tablets currently carry a healthy premium on the cost of the hardware components,” said Richard Shim, senior analyst at DisplaySearch.

“The emergence of the whitebox tablet market is an indication that the market is reacting to that premium and is trying to give consumers a lower price to drive adoption. In the short term, the tradeoff will likely result in a less than ideal user experience,” Richard added.

After Apple’s iPad and the unbranded segment, Samsung comes in next at about one million units in the first quarter of 2011. Most whitebox tablet makers use ARM processors and Android operating system in their devices.

While China is the largest market for such tablets, other regions where these tablets are becoming popular include Asia Pacific, Latin America, and parts of EMEA (Europe, the Middle East and Africa). Most of these tablets are being bought by students looking for lower priced tablets. They are not affected by the low quality &#151 such as low brightness &#151 of the tablets either.

The term ‘whitebox’ was coined for a computer which was built from scratch by users at home. Such devices turned out to be very good for those who had the knowhow, and in addition they were inexpensive as well.

Phones also have their whitebox segments, but here the term doesn’t refer to phones from unbranded manufacturers but to phones coming from small and medium sized producers. The word similarly applies to the tablet market.

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