Figures from analyst company Display Search showed that between the last quarter of 2010 and Q1 2011, sales of whitebox tablets soared from 567,000 units to nearly two million - a growth of 235%, with China driving the market.
“Price is a significant influence on any consumer product, and tablets currently carry a healthy premium on the cost of the hardware components,” said Richard Shim, senior analyst for DisplaySearch.
“The emergence of the whitebox tablet market is an indication that the market is reacting to that premium and trying to give consumers a lower price to drive adoption.”
However, compared to the high-profile, high-cost devices from Apple, Toshiba and Motorola, the catch with whitebox offerings could be poor performance and interface problems, Shim said.
"In the short term, the trade-off will likely result in a less than ideal user experience,” he said.
A Next-branded tablet from last year highlighted his concerns, earning the dubious honour of a clean sweep of one stars when we reviewed it last year.
Major manufacturers that have bought heavily into the tablet market may also be worried by other figures from the research, which showed the stellar growth in the tablet sector appears to be slowing.
According to Display Search, the number of tablets sold in Q1 compared to Q4 last year actually fell 5.2%, from 10.2m units to 9.7m – although overall the sector had grown 13-fold in the last year.
The figures showed that Apple still dominated the tablet arena, with 53.6% of the market, while “others” claimed 26.8%, with fast-growing whitebox manufactures grabbing 19.6% of the market.
This article originally appeared at pcpro.co.uk