NEW YORK – The global tablet market may be a lot bigger -- perhaps as much as 50 percent bigger -- than previously thought depending on how you measure the increasing numbers of "Shanzhai" tablets produced in China.
Loosely translated, "Shanzhai" means white box, as in, no label. These tablets manufactured in China are distinguished from "knockoff" products, which the original Chinese term "Shanzhai" suggests.
Earlier, I wrote about the global market for tablets during the third quarter of this year. According to estimates, shipments reached 27.8 million units.
Several industry sources based in Beijing and Shenzhen responded with notes saying that the math behind the industry estimates didn't add up. The Chinese observers argue that most estimates ignore the size of the white box tablet market.
Factoring in the number of apps processors shipped by Chinese fabless companies and tablet displays from its panel vendors, the number of white box tablets made in Shenzhen during the third quarter could total as high as 18 million units, Chinese sources claimed.
Add those to the branded tablets sold by Apple, Samsung, Amazon, Asus and Lenovo and the global tablet market in the third quarter jumps to 42.5 million units. That’s 52 percent more than the global total estimated by IDC in 3Q.
This huge gap makes me wonder what other Chinese consumer electronics products are uncounted or under-counted.
One thing to take into account is Chinese fabless chip company Allwinner Technology -- how it operates and and how it has taken advantage of the growing white box market.
Allwinner's A10 apps processor used in tablets.
The applications processor vendor has substantially expanded its market share over the last 18 months, primarily based on the strength of its turnkey system that has been described as "super easy to use" by Chinese industry sources. The solution allegedly makes it a snap for practically any white-box vendor to make media tablets and ramp up production in a Shenzhen minute.