White box tablet market 'thriving'

Recent flurry of activity in white box tablet market indicates potential market for adoption of such devices to grow, according to new report from ABI Research, which also singled out China as market leader in this device segment.
Written by Liau Yun Qing, Contributor

Media tablet devices from brand names such as Apple, Dell and Samsung might be hogging today's headlines, but a "thriving" white box tablet market boasting a more varied product range will likely experience robust, sustained growth rates, particularly in markets such as China, a new report highlighted.

The report, published on Wednesday by analyst firm ABI Research, said there are more than 60 different white box tablet devices from about 50 different manufacturers currently available in the market. As brand name is relatively unimportant and prices are relatively affordable in this particular market segment, as compared with branded tablets such as Apple's iPad and Samsung's Galaxy Tab, these factors have encouraged the rise of these white box tablets, explained Celia Bo, an industry analyst with the firm, in the report.

China, for one, is a market leader for such white box tablets, ABI noted, adding that many of these devices are targeted at domestic customers.

"While these [white box tablets] are not global brands yet, the very presence of such a thriving white box market in Asia is a good indicator of a growing market that is expected to see robust adoption rates in years to come," stated Jeff Orr, principal analyst at ABI Research. More sophisticated tablets expected

The report also pointed out that many of the current batch of white box tablets have 7-inch display screens and run on Google's mobile operating system Android.

Wi-Fi capability is included in most devices, which allows users to access content from the Internet through Web browsers or apps via Google's Android Market. Other content hotspots include vendor-proprietary or regional online stores, which offer content in local languages as well as online stores run by mobile operators, ABI stated.

That said, many of these white box tablets are not sophisticated, yet. ABI Research's practice director Kevin Burden noted in the report that many of these tablets started shipping only in the last 75 days, and manufacturers are still building out their market presence.

He added that these tablets do not show "any great degree of technological innovation", but consumers can expect devices with "more ambitious capabilities" in the first quarter of 2011 from a new set of vendors.

In a separate report, research firm Gartner predicted that by 2011, 54.8 million tablets will be sold, possibly eating into the smartphone market if the 7-inch form factor gains traction among end-users.

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