China tablet shipments reached 1.86 million units in May, a -5.6% decrease from the previous month and a 14.6% gain over the same period last year, according to IDC China Monthly Tablet (Including 2-in-1) Tracker. According to the study released by the research company, commercial tablet unit shipments rose by 14.4% year-on-year and that of consumer tablets by 14.7%.
Since April 2014, China tablet (including 2-in-1) shipments had experienced month-on-month declines for two successive months, dulling the tablet market. From January to May, tablet market shipments totaled 11.11 million units, which were up 15.8% on a year-on-year basis, but lower than expectations.
The 2-in-1 shipments totaled 205,000 units, which helped to stabilize the market. The shipments of Android tablets with phone functions totaled 2.05 million units. And among the Android tablets shipped in May, tablets with phone functions accounted for 33% of the total. As more vendors launched small-size tablets with phone functions, IDC believes this product category will become the market focus in the coming months.
The tablet market shows the following features in 2014:
1. The consumer market is facing fiercer competition
According to IDC data, the shipments of tablets in the consumer market totaled 8.42 million units in the first five months of 2014. The proportion of tablets priced from RMB 1,000 to RMB 1,999 has increased; this is especially so for tablets priced from RMB 1,499 to RMB 1,999, whose proportion has exceeded 9% in the first five months of 2014. As chipset vendors, such as Qualcomm and AMD, increase investments in the tablet market and launch chipsets suitable for tablet products, IDC expects more tablet vendors will launch 7-inch and 8-inch tablets with phone functions. Tablets less than 9 inches and with phone functions will compete fiercely with large-size smartphones.
2. The commercial market remains at a high growth rate
China’s tablet shipments in commercial market reached 2.68 million units in the first five months of 2014. The proportion of WiFi-only tablets in commercial market declined slightly. With improving 3G networks and the rapid construction of 4G networks, IDC expects that 3G/4G tablets will be further recognized by more industry users. The proportion of 3G/4G tablets shipped in the commercial market will hit about 37.5% in 2014H2, according to IDC forecasts.
3. Vendors will focus on channel integration and adjustment based on existing channels
As sales and marketing channels have become increasingly diversified, tablet vendors will invest more resources in the expansion and construction of new channels while maintaining the advantages of their traditional channels. The online channel of E-Tailers (a third-party platform where customers can complete purchasing online) will become the major driver of tablet growth. Also, 3-5-tier cities will account for a bigger share in the market as tablets get increasingly popular there.
4. Challenges and opportunities co-exist in the tablet market in 2014H2
Apple and Samsung are expected to keep their dominant positions in 2014H2, although more competitive products will be launched. Traditional PC vendors, such as ASUS and Lenovo, will launch more diversified tablet products. Mobile phone vendors, such as Huawei and Coolpad, have launched small-size tablets with phone functions and will continue to diversify their product lines. Xiaomi will launch its own tablets, taking a share of the market, while local tablet vendors and white-box tablet manufacturers in Guangdong will launch more small-size Android tablets with phone functions. In addition, as Intel invests in Rockchip, the tablet market will undergo fiercer competition and explosive growth in product variety in 2014H2. IDC expects China’s tablet market will become more stable through these adjustments.