Tablet sales rise in China as rivals take bite out of Apple

There's been good and bad news emanating from China this week for gadget giants Apple - the number of tablet devices being sold is rising overall but the American corporation's market share is being eroded at the very same time.

Not that the damage being done is too tragic. Apple still holds a 74.3 percent share of the Chinese tablet market, according to a report from industry research firm Analysys International. But that's a drop over the second quarter of 2011 from 78.3 percent, and the report shows that Chinese consumers are starting to look around more before they buy.

Overall, the report found that 1.44 million tablet devices were sold in China in the second quarter of the year - up from 1.04 million in the first quarter.

The release of tablet devices by China's Lenovo group, as well as US-based Motorola and the Taiwain-based company Asus, was the reason behind the fall in Apple's market share, according to the Analysys International report.

The Beijing-based computer maker eBen holds the second largest share of the Chinese market now, with 4.8 percent, followed by Samsung (4.5 percent) and Asus (4.2 percent).

Industry estimates have the Chinese tablet market rising to 4.7 million units, up from 1.1 million units last year.

The Analysys International report also revealed that, of Apple's market share, 71.7 percent of sales were of the iPad2 model, up from 53 percent in the first quarter. There were 17 million sold around the world last year, with 14.8 million of them being Apple iPads.

Meanwhile Lenovo - now the world's third-largest supplier of personal computers, is hoping its market share of two percent will increase over the rest of the year as consumers check out its LePad tablet model, now available across all its 5,000 stores in China.

What's more, Lenovo is expanding its horizons as it goes into battle with Apple, rolling out three tablet devices on the international market over the next six months.

The IdeaPad K1 - which will run Google's Android mobile operating system and have 32 GB of storage - is set for release in August for US$499 (350 euro). Then Lenovo has the ThinkPad Tablet, also with Android, that will have a 16 GB version for US$479 (335 euros) and a 32 GB version for US$589 (412 euros).

Finally, Lenovo has plans for a ThinkPad Tablet P1, a 10.1-inch Windows tablet available for an undisclosed price by the end of the year.

Apple has been in the news also this week as Chinese media - and government officials - turned their attention to unauthorized Apple stores in the cities of Chongqing and Kunming which have been selling iPhones and iPads.

Two of the stores found in Kuniming have apparently been closed by authorities but others are still operating - with staff dressed in Apple uniforms and interiors furnished in Apple décor - until it is decided whether or not they infringe intellectual property rights, according to the China Daily newspaper.

How China's tablet buyers are spending ...

Shares in the mainland Chinese tablet market:

- Apple 74.3 percent
- eBen 4.8 percent
- Samsung 4.5 percent
- Asus 4.2 percent
- Motorola 2.2 percent
- Lenovo 2 percent
- Others 8 percent.