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MediaTek top supplier to China tablet makers

TAIPEI -- Taiwan's MediaTek Inc., the leading chip supplier for Chinese smartphones, has become the biggest supplier to China's little-known “white-box” tablet makers, according to data from the Taipei-based Topology Research Institute.

China's white-box manufacturers may have little brand recognition, but the companies are managing to ship 100 million cheap tablets to their domestic market this year, a steady increase from 80 million units in 2013 and 60 million units in 2012, Topology's data said.

Many of the white-box tablets retail at 200-400 Chinese yuan (US$32-US$64), well below an average of 1,000-2,000 Chinese yuan that big brands' tablets cost, said the research firm.

MediaTek, whose China market share is growing at a respectable rate thanks to the affordability of its high performance chips, accounted for 29.5 percent of China's white-box tablet chip market in the fourth quarter of 2013, jumping from only 1.8 percent a year earlier to seize the top place, the Topology said.

The Hsinchu-based company has edged out two leading Chinese chip designers. Rockchip Electronics Co. is now in second place and Allwinner Technology Co. in third, accounting for 22.1 percent and 20.6 percent of the market share in the fourth quarter, respectively.

In comparison, U.S. chipmakers Nvidia Corp. and Qualcomm Inc. took only 3.2 percent and 2.1 percent in the last quarter of 2013, according to the Topology.

MediaTek's success is a result of its offerings in the form of integrated solutions that could shorten white-box tablet vendors' product development time to as low as three months, compared with an industry average of over six months, Topology researcher Michael Zuo said in an interview with CNA.

That will give MediaTek a competitive advantage of at least two quarters over its rivals this year in the cut-throat Chinese white-box tablet market, which is crowded with price-sensitive consumers, Zuo said.

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