Big brand tablet makers have slashed their shipment targets for 2013, citing stronger than expected competition from white-box vendors. According to NPD DisplaySearch, worldwide tablet shipments should hit 256.5 million units this year, up 67 percent from 153.6 million units last year.
However, big brands will lose market share, as white-box outfits are growing faster. Apple, Google, Microsoft, Samsung, Acer and Asus are expected to lose share at the hands of Chinese white-box makers, who are slowly making inroads in the international market. NPD DisplayResearch estimates that top brands shipped 172 million units in April, but shipments are believed to have dropped to 167 million units in June.
Market leader Apple is also feeling the pinch. It shipped 67 million iPads last year, but NPD DisplaySearch has cut mighty Apple’s shipment target for 2013 from 88 million units to 74 million.
However, despite the cuts the tablet market is looking as healthy as ever, but it might be becoming a bit more heterogeneous. Cheap Androids might undercut industry heavyweights, but at the moment this is more of a regional trend than a global one. White-box vendors are doing well in some parts of Asia, but they won’t take western markets by storm.
While browsing through some cheap tablets at Computex, we got the impression that they have a lot of potential and they might be competitive in some markets. However, it won’t be a repeat of the Macintosh vs. vanilla PC battle of the eighties. The trouble for white-box Chinese tablets is that they can’t just waltz into Europe and the US. For the time being many of them can only sell their kit in mainland China. As one vendor told us, if they tried to go overseas, their collective hind quarters would be sued by Acer and other big players.
The bird flu epidemic could have a knock on effect on the supply chain if rates of infection continue to rise, disties have said.
The warnings come as China has confirmed 108 cases of what the World Health Organisation describes as the “most lethal” viruses seen so far since March 31.
The H7N9 strain of the virus has also caused 22 deaths.
Yesterday, Taiwan also reported it had seen its first case of the virus in a man who had recently returned from working in eastern China where most cases have been reported.
And as things continue to get messy for the medical world it seems business could also be affected.
“Bird Flu is one of the most feared diseases of this century,” one distie told ChannelEye.
“While we’re currently chugging along there is a big risk of disruption if the disease continues to spread,” he added.
Others shared his sentiments. “There’s not really been much change at the moment in terms of the bird flu outbreak. But we’ve seen slower sales and delayed shipments in the past when there was problems with things like SARs,” another added.
Another told ChannelEye: “It depends how mad the world goes. If we start having to quarantine things then supply of products will be severely altered. But let’s see how far this scare mongering goes.”
Companies are looking further into China in a bid to boost business.
This week both Avnet and Microsoft have made railroads into the country. The gossip grapevine suggests that Microsoft has decided to extend its selling channels for its Surface RT tablets, which it previously sold through two distributors- its online store and chain store for electronics, Suning.
The giant had not been able to go through further channels as a result of an exclusive distie deal with Suning, but now sources have said that this deal expired in February, paving the way for Microsoft to pick up new channels. It is also claimed that Microsoft was unhappy about the way Suning had dealt with sales, failing to push Surface and get an advertising network around it.
In a bid to boost sales its now, according to the WPDang, turning to four new distribution partners aboard. These include PC Mall, Sundan, One Zero and 360buy.
And its not just Microsoft moving into Chinese circles. Today distie Avnet announced that it was buying Hong Kong’s RTI Holdings, RTI Technology China, Eastele Technology China, and DSP Solutions, value-added distributors of telecom equipment and related components in Hong Kong and China.
The company said that it wanted a piece of RTI as a result of its “focused technical expertise,” as well as its “strong presence” in the Chinese market.
It is hoped that the purchase will help the company break into the Chinese market, which it has so far struggled to do.