China's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) keeps totals of electronics production, and the latest numbers for January-November 2012 provide a reasonable idea of the importance of different product categories. According to a table compiled by Digitimes in Taiwan, China has made more than a billion mobile phones in the first 11 months of last year, along with 314.5 million PCs, 116.1 million monitors, and 114 million TV sets.
There isn't a number for tablet production, but on December 5, IDC's analysts forecast global sales of 122.3 million for 2012. The figure for 11 months of Chinese tablet production would therefore come close to the production of TV sets, and roughly a third of the production of PCs.
There may be some tablets made in countries other than China, but probably not enough to make a significant difference.
On MIIT's numbers, China's mobile phone manufacturers saw production fall by 1.1 percent compared with last year. Printers declined by 0.6 percent, digital cameras by 4.6 percent, and fax machines by 5.7 percent. The production of CRT-based TV sets fell, not surprisingly, by 40.2 percent.
On the good side, production of PCs of all types rose by 10.6 percent, with laptops up by 8.7 percent. Production of TV sets increased by 9.1 percent, thanks to the 11.2 percent increase in sales of LCD TVs. However, both of these categories can be expected to decline, as the number of businesses and consumers who want a new PC or a flat-screen TV declines.
If anyone from MIIT happens to read this, please could you add tablets to your list? (You could add e-readers, games consoles and MP3 players as well.) Also, it would cause less brain-ache if all the numbers were given in millions to one decimal place. I realise there's a Chinese system where units increase by 10,000 (万 wàn) times, but in the west, we only increase them by 1,000 times (thousand, million, billion).