BEIJING: Apple has a dominant position in the Chinese tablet category, but is likely to face increased competition going forward.

Research provider Analysys International reported the iPad and iPad 2, launched locally on May 6, took a 78.3% market share during the opening three months of 2011.

This could be measured against Samsung's 5.1% share and the 4.5% recorded by indigenous firm ErenEben.

However, Analysys also expects Apple's proportion of sales to contract to 70% in the second quarter, as Chinese rivals intensify their efforts.

"Chinese tablet PC makers are trying to form a stronger echelon behind Apple by taking over the market share that belonged to small copycat manufacturers," Sun Peilin, an analyst at Analysys International, told the China Daily.

Sales of slate devices reached 1.04m units in Q1, a 32.5% lift quarter on quarter, with the figure projected to hit 4.5m for the year as a whole.

A survey of mobile phone subscribers conducted by Analysys International found 61% agreed such appliances probably served a useful purpose on a professional level.

Just 50% concurred they would like to own one of these gadgets due to the various tools supplied for leisure activities.

"There are two separate markets for tablets: You can either go entertainment or business," said Sun.

"The iPad is a big competitor in terms of entertainment, so Chinese companies should be different from the iPad."

ErenEben sold 150,000 of its first and second generation offerings in 2010, and believes this total could more than double across 2011, when it will roll out the third and fourth iterations of its core product.

The company has sought to differentiate its goods by closely replicating the experience of writing on paper, and hopes this approach will enable it to move towards the top-end of the segment.

"We are now selling nearly 30,000 units every month in 2011," said Fang Liyong, ErenEben's chief operating officer.

"We still consider that ErenEben has great growth potential, because China's tablet market is so big, and Apple cannot take it all."

Lenovo also unveiled the LePad earlier this year and wants to grab 20% of the sector by the close of 2011, having revealed in May it had proved difficult keeping up with consumer demand.

"Although it's only been in the market for a couple of months, the market response for LePad has been very good," said Yang Yuanqing, Lenovo's chief executive officer.

Among the other players targeting China are Research in Motion, Acer and Haier, indicative of the nation's substantial promise.

"According to our figures, international shipments of tablet computers have grown faster than earlier estimates, especially in China," said Simon Ye, an analyst with research firm Gartner.

Data sourced from China Daily; additional content by Warc staff