The rise of so-called "white box" or no-name tablets by a wide variety of Chinese manufacturers has forced one research firm to revise its estimate of global demand upward by 6% for 2013.
Specifically, IHS says it is now forecasting a total of 262 million displays for tablets will be shipped in 2013, compared to its previous forecast of 246 million.
This represents a dramatic 69% uptick from 2012 when 155 million panels were shipped.
“Competitive dynamics in the tablet market have changed dramatically this year as Chinese white-box smartphone makers have entered the tablet market in droves,” said Ricky Park, senior manager for large-area displays at IHS. “These companies are producing massive quantities of low-end tablets that appeal to consumers in China and other developing economies.”
Park also noted that these white-box manufacturers are driving up demand for the smaller displays using the older twisted nematic (TN) technology, rather than the newer screens using in-plane switching (IPS).
It’s not clear if any of these devices will ever make it to U.S. shores, but the increased manufacturing volumes will undoubtedly help drive down the cost of certain components for the tablet industry as a whole.
IHS notes that globally 8-inch displays are becoming an increasingly large segment of the tablet market because the larger screen size is more useful than the first wave of low-cost 7-inch models.
The 8-inch panels accounted for 11% of panel shipments in April, with Samsung and Acer having recently launched new tablets in that size and many other vendors very likely to introduce more 8-inch models this year.
While sales of larger size (10-inch and bigger) tablet sales are slightly down, IHS thinks shipments of bigger tablets could get a boost with the launch of Intel’s latest Atom microprocessor. Bay Trail, as the chip is code-named, could help reduce the cost of x86 microprocessor-based tablets and improve battery life.
There is also the hope by Intel and its partners that Bay Trail will generate opportunities for hybrid-form tablets that include keyboards.