“The uptick in tablet shipments, post-pandemic, driven by the education, health and government sectors have spurred interest of many Chinese vendors in the tablet segment,” G Rajeev Nair, senior analyst at Strategy Analytics, told ET.
He added that competition in the mid-to-higher price tier of the Android tablet market is limited, which is what’s driving the opportunity to engage the Indian audience.
Higher disposable incomes along with anticipation of recurring Covid-19 like disruptions have also pushed consumers to look for devices that fit longer-term usage, than just low-cost devices with a shorter life span, saidNair.
“Owing to the pandemic-induced momentum, there is enough consumer interest and appetite for Android tablets,” said Prabhu Ram, head- Industry Intelligence Group (IIG), CMR.
The brands are also hoping that familiarity and success in other screen categories like smartphones, TVs, and wearables in the higher price category will help with the approach.
“More established smartphone brands are entering this segment by leveraging their existing distribution channels, scale and marketing muscle,” Counterpoint Research said in a research report.
Incidentally, 4G tablet shipments hit 74% on-year growth in 2021, driven by the value for money segment, which clocked a 155% quarterly growth in Q1 2022, led by Lenovo with 36% market share, according to CMR data.
China’s Xiaomi returned to the tablet space after eight years in April, with the Xiaomi Pad 5, a mid-premium tablet with a high-resolution, high refresh rate display, and a powerful Qualcomm processor, backed by keyboard and stylus support.
“Prior to the launch, we identified a gap that exists in the market where consumers were on a lookout for a great specced (hardware specification) yet value for money tablet,” Raghu Reddy, chief business officer,Xiaomi India, told ET. The tablet has been among the bestsellers on Amazon for three consecutive weeks since the first sale, he added.
Xiaomi’s rival Realme too has forayed into the tablet space last year with the Realme Pad, entering the Rs10,000-20,000 segment, which sees the maximum share of shipments at 56%, according to Counterpoint Research. In the same year of its launch, Realme cornered 4% of the tablet market.
Other Chinese vendors—Oppo and OnePlus—are also expected to enter the tablet segment later this year, taking on entrenched players like Lenovo, Samsung and Apple, which together have more than four-fifth of the total tablet market in India, according to Counterpoint.
Experts, though, said the premium push in Android tablets won’t impact sales of Apple iPads. “It will take much more than just feature-rich launches to wean away an iPad user,” Nair said.
Counterpoint expects tablet shipments to hit 5 million units in 2022, up from 3.5 million units last year, with the penetration improving with local manufacturing, which is now at 20%. Majority of tablets sold in India are imported.
On the software side, Google has launched Android 12L, designed specifically for large-screen tablets that feature a new layout and a taskbar for quick access to apps. The company also teased its own tablet during Google I/O 2022, which is set to launch next year.