BEIJING: Tablet sales rose dramatically in China last year, as both local and international companies aimed to catch up with Apple's iPad in this rapidly-growing market.

CCID, the consultancy, stated that 4.9 million slates were purchased by Chinese shoppers in 2011, marking an almost ten-fold expansion when compared with 2010.

Category revenues also topped RMB18.9bn last year, a total that had climbed eight times over on an annual basis. As this slightly lagged the volume increase, it appears price deflation has begun to make an impact.

According to CCID's estimates, 60.4m tablets were sold worldwide in 2011, collectively generating RMB234bn. This gave China a market share of just over 8% on each of these metrics.

One key trend reshaping the Chinese tablet sector last year was the rise of gadgets made by both foreign and domestic manufacturers, after Apple's iPad was essentially the "only winner" of 2010.

Dell is one example of a multinational firm trying  to change this situation, having made China the official launch market for its Streak tablet. Samsung, Acer and Asus are also fighting for consumer attention.

Meanwhile, indigenous operators like Lenovo, Huawei and ZTE are rolling out their own equivalent devices, targeted not only at local customers but, increasingly, at overseas nations as well.

Pricing was a primary factor that played a key role in sorting the successes and failures in China last year, CCID's study added.

More specifically, the organisation reported that low-end appliances costing below RMB1,500 and premium alternatives commanding at least RMB3,500 were the "mainstream" products.

By contrast, the company added, mid-market slates with a price point falling between RMB1,500 and RMB3,500 typically "didn't sell well".

Adopting a wider view, it suggested that the enterprise segment had "considerable potential" for tablet brands in China, as businesses enthusiastically embrace their "visual, handy and flexible" features.

The entertainment, hospitality and travel sectors have proved quickest to adopt these devices, while education, finance, government and healthcare are likely to deliver hardening demand going forward, according to CCID.

Data sourced from CCID; additional content by Warc staff