Microsoft's Surface RT Shipments for China Tiny Compared to Rival Tablets

While first day sales for Microsoft's Surface RT tablet attracted a long line in Beijing back in October, demand for the device in China has been low, as shipments reached only 30,000 units during the fourth quarter, according to research firm IDC.

While first day sales for Microsoft's Surface RT tablet attracted a long line in Beijing back in October, demand for the device in China has been low, as shipments reached only 30,000 units during the fourth quarter, according to research firm IDC.

Among tablets, the Surface RT's market share amounted to only 1 percent in China, said IDC analyst Dickie Chang in an email. Globally, Surface RT shipments reached 900,000 units during the quarter, which IDC said illustrated muted demand for the product.

Microsoft was concerned less with boosting shipments, and instead used the device to demonstrate to PC vendors "how great" a Windows tablet could be, Chang said. In China, Microsoft decided to only sell the product through local electronics retailer Suning and its own online sales channel. Shipments to the Chinese market for other Windows tablets in the quarter reached only 11,000 units, Chang added.

During the fourth quarter in December, rival Apple launched its iPad mini and fourth-generation iPad in the country. This allowed the company to grab a 62 percent share of the tablet market, with 1.4 million shipments.

Apple has consistently dominated China's tablet market. But Android devices are growing in popularity, with their market share increasing to 36 percent, up 10 points quarter-over-quarter, Chang said.

In the quarter, Lenovo ranked second as China's largest tablet vendor, with a 14 percent market share, while Samsung Electronics trailed behind with 8 percent. Amazon.com has yet to release its Kindle products to the country, nor has Google decided to bring its Nexus 7, lessening competition in the market.

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