Although you may not have heard or seen most of them, more than 60 tablet computers produced by almost 50 manufacturers were introduced around the world in 2010. Most of the tablets have been introduced in the last 75 days, aren't branded by names most consumers would recognize and many of the slates are being sold in China, according to ABI Research, a technology analytic and forecasting firm headquartered in Port Washington, N.Y.
"China is definitely a market leader, but it is a 'white box' market in which brand is relatively unimportant, prices are relatively affordable (though still higher than those of netbooks), and devices are aimed at domestic consumers." explained ABI industry analyst Celia Bo.
While white boxes may lack the kind of cachet attached to a device like Apple's iPad, they do bode well for the future of worldwide tablet sales. "While these are not (yet) global brands, the very presence of such a thriving white box market in Asia is a good indicator of a growing market that is expected to see robust adoption rates in years to come," opined ABI principal analyst Jeff Orr.
Many of the tablets have seven-inch displays, run Google's Android operating system and use processors produced by Freescale Semiconductor, ABI reported. Most of the devices are WiFi enabled, so they have Internet access, and since many use Android, their users are accessing the Android Marketplace for apps, it added.
Up to now, the makers of the new tablets haven't been plowing any new ground in their slate designs, but that will change next year, according to ABI practice director Kevin Burden. "The products released so far do not show any great degree of technological innovation," he said, "but we expect to see a new set of vendors in the first quarter of 2011, offering devices with more ambitious capabilities."