Students snap up knock-off tablets

With Apple retaining its stranglehold on the tablet PC market, it seems that its big name rivals are still unable to knock the iPad off its perch.

While MotorolaDell and many others attempt to muscle in on the iPad’s territory it is the non-branded ‘whitebox’ vendors which are creating the most significant competition to Apple.

According to DisplaySearch, whitebox vendors are the fastest growing segment in the worldwide market for tablet PCs.

The cheapo, Del-Boy style tablets saw an impressive 235 percent shipment unit increase from the final quarter of 2010 to the first quarter of 2011, as shipments increased from 567,000 units to 1.9 million over the period.

It was in China that the majority of whitebox tablets were flogged, accounting for 44 percent of the overall worldwide shipments, with screen sizes primarily in the 7 inch 10.1 inch categories.

The knock-off tabs are being bought up by those in search of a bargain, with students unfazed by the low quality of the products due to the reduced cost involved.

But as the old adage goes, you get what you pay for, and according to DisplaySearch many of the whitebox devices use substandard components. Manufacturers are utilising panels that bigger brands would turn their noses up at because of shoddy brightness levels, for example.

As well as China, there is more room for growth for the bargain bin tablets, with emerging regions such as Asia Pacific, Latin America and parts of EMEA.

According to DisplaySearch, the emergence of the whitebox tablet market is being driven by the ability to undercut big name vendors which are currently operating with a “healthy premium on the cost of the hardware components”.

Overall shipments of tablets were down however, falling 5.2 percent quarterly from with 10.2 million units at the end of last year to 9.7 million at the start of 2011.

There was still a massive thirteen-fold increase from the same point last year, moving from 668,000 shipment units in the first quarter of last year to 9.7 million this year