Is Apple Losing the Tablet Market in China?

iPad Mini 2012 AppleApple’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) tablet competitors may finally be gaining some ground in at least one important emerging market. According to the latest data from market research firm IDC via IDG News Service, Apple’s share of the tablet market in China has slipped to 28 percent in the second quarter of this year.

Apple typically accounts for about 50 percent of the tablet shipments in China. IDC analyst Dickie Chang notes that Apple had a 49 percent share of the tablet market in China just one year ago, reports Bloomberg. Apple shipped 3 million iPads to China in the first quarter of this year. In the second quarter, that number fell to about 1.5 million. However, Chang believes the decline is likely due to an overall reduction in iPad inventory as Apple prepares to refresh its product line later this year.

Despite the decline, Apple still holds the largest share of any individual tablet maker in the Chinese market. However, 46 percent of all tablet shipments in the Chinese market came from small tablet vendors classified by the IDC as “Others.”

These so-called “white box vendors” have made significant inroads into China’s tablet market by making low-cost tablets powered by Google’s (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android operating system. “Some of these Android tablets, like those from Chinese vendor Onda, can start as low as 699 yuan ($113), and come built with a quad-core processor, 8-inch screen, and 5-megapixel camera,” states Chang via IDG News Service.

Apple’s nearest individual competitor is Samsung (SSNLF.PK). Apple’s Korea-based rival holds an 11 percent share of the tablet market in China with only 571,000 units shipped in the second quarter.

One tablet competitor that Apple doesn’t have to worry about is Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT). Microsoft’s relatively expensive Surface RT and Surface Pro tablet devices have not fared well in China’s tablet market. The Redmond-based company accounted for less than 1 percent of the tablet shipments to China in the second quarter.

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