Cheap devices take a bite out of iPad sales
Two Chinese chip makers have emerged as the most important suppliers to the tablet market after Apple, latest figures from research firm Canalys have revealed. It says Allwinner and Rockchip are each expected to sell 50 million processors this year, typically ending up in sub-$200 ‘white box’ tablets that appeal to consumers unable or unwilling to shell out for better known brands. The growing use of Chinese-made chips in tablets is good news for Britain’s ARM, which licenses many of the designs and which itself reports that 80 per cent of such products end up being sold outside the People’s Republic, mainly in Latin America and other emerging markets.
It means that cheap Chinese tablets are slowly nibbling away at the market for the likes of Apple, which currently commands the top spot and is projected to sell some 70 million iPads this year incorporating its own chip designs.
According to Canalys, Chinese processor firms have collectively already overtaken established US giants such as Qualcomm and Nvidia in terms of tablet sales, with their chips powering brands such as PronoTec, KingPad and Dragon Touch.
It says that while it doesn’t expect the US firms to lose their position in the mainstream tablet market any time soon, and that Apple and Samsung will probably continue using their own processors, the Chinese are slowly upping the ante as their chips become increasingly sophisticated.
Zhuhai-based Allwinner, for instance, whose single core chip released in 2011 helped trigger the market for low-cost Android tablets, has already moved up a gear with new dual-core and quad-core parts.
Meanwhile Hewlett-Packard this year released the HP Slate 7, an Android tablet equipped with a Rockchip processor that sells in the States for $139.
Rockchip has also sold processors used in the Excite and MediaPad tablets from Toshiba and Huawei.