No Shock: Chinese Tablets Don’t Sell In China

Apple’s iPad dominates China’s tablet market

While Samsung is the smartphone market leader in China, Apple dominates the tablet market, according to a new report from Beijing-based Umeng Analytics Platform, a leading Chinese mobile app and analytics service.

In the fourth quarter, the iPad and iPad mini represented 83 percent of tablet sales in China; Android tablets captured just 17 percent of the market, said Linda Jiang, Umeng vice president of business development.

“When people think of tablets, they buy iPads,” she said. “Android tablets aren’t gaining any significant market share.”

Boldfaced emphasis added by me.

If I was a Chinese tablet maker, I’d be embarrassed beyond belief.

I’d be doubly frustrated because Chinese tablets have finally started to get good.

Here’s someone with some experience with Chinese tablets talking:

Two years have passed now since I made my first android tablet review, and I’m really amazed how fast chinese manufacturer have progressed, my first tablet really was an abomination, it was terrible compared to a real iPad (Anyway I knew what I was buying ^^, you get what you paid for…), now this new tablet is near perfection really worth it for the price, no wonders Archos decided to rebrand it and sale it as the Titanium 80 (with small changes in specs).

Boldfaced emphasis added by me.

Tablet News points out:

It’s very impressive to find out that Apple has such high sales in China, considering there are literally hundreds of small companies making good and cheap tablets in China. Those would appeal more to the average consumer, but the iPad is seen as the “tablet to buy”, since it has the solid marketing around it and not the shady allure of a white box slate made in China.

The crap that Chinese manufacturers have put out in the past have poisoned the well for the companies that actually want to grow into global brands — starting on their home turf.

The tablet that’s been getting international recognition is the Onda V812. As noted above, it’s so good that Archos has picked it up to sell as the Archos 80 Platinum, its high-end eight-inch model.

But while Onda is gaining traction abroad, apparently at home it’s not getting the respect it deserves.

Some company in China needs to commit to a dedication of absolute quality and customer satisfaction that Zhang Ruimin of Haier displayed to his workers.

While there are several companies that sell Chinese tablets to overseas customers, the tablet makers themselves must make it clear to them that customer satisfaction comes first. That a customer should be able to return any defective product and that the manufacturer will eat that loss — including the postage — not the seller. The manufacturers cannot sit by and use export sellers as a shield. It’s the reputation of the manufacturer that’s on the line, not the seller. It’s their brand name on the tablet.

I’m reminded of a book I read about the history of Nissan Motors (then called Datsun). The first Datsun dealers in America had cars that were basically junk. But they were instructed to do anything that was required to satisfy the customer and also to collect information on problems so that back in Japan they could continue to improve their products. This is the kind of commitment a tablet manufacturer in China needs to make.

Chinese tablet manufacturers are in a paradoxical position that the Japanese never faced. While Japan and its citizens would nurture home brands so they could expand internationally, it seems Chinese tablet manufacturers need to first gain respect abroad before they can succeed at home.

There are two tablet brands that have popped to the top so far at least in terms of their names being known: Onda and Ramos. It’s not easy to get your name known outside of your home turf, especially on the basis of sales that are less than a rounding error on the balance sheets of global brands such as Apple, Samsung, Google, HTC, and LG. There are countless companies that would kill to get even that little sliver of mindshare (just ask most of the small devs in the iOS App Store!). Onda or Ramos need to step up and get serious. Or they are doomed to be quickly forgotten and any dreams they had of global expansion will be crushed.

Previously here:

Interesting Onda Development
Onda V818 Mini Tablet Announced
Video Review Of The Onda V812 Tablet
Archos 80 Platinum = Onda V812



Filed under Android

2 responses to “No Shock: Chinese Tablets Don’t Sell In China

  1. Japanese companies used to “window” the releases of their consumer electronics, selling them in the domestic market for at least a year before they were released to western markets, so they could get consumer feedback and iron out the bugs. They could do that because imports attracted high tariffs and because Japanese consumers understood that buying domestic helped the industry.

    Datsun made its name in the US with the model 510, “Bluebird” which they entered in the 1971 under 2 litre Trans Am series with two cars, professional drivers, and a (then) huge budget. They won the series in ’71 and ’72, beating Alfa Romeos (won ’70) and Porsches (won ’66 through ’69). The European cars had limited factory support. That got Datsun lots of gear head attention and respect. The 240Z sports car used the Bluebird engine and suspension, and became seen as a lower-cost alternative to the Alfas and Porches.

    The China market problem: no one there has much respect for anything made locally and, as I’ve seen in many emerging economies, newly minted middle class consumers have a fixation on “famous” brands – owning a “brand name” product is a way for them to signal their new affluence. So Onda et al need success in the US or European market, together with consistent branding, if they are to succeed in the domestic market.

    One way around the domestic market image issue is to purchase a foreign brand, which an acquaintance of mine did in the watch business in Hong Kong in the 80s when he bought Bulova.

    • mikecane

      Purchasing a foreign brand name is an interesting strategy — but then doesn’t it wipe away the domestic branding effort?

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