China's tablet market grew 63 percent in Q3

China's tablet sales reached 2.6 million units in the third quarter

Sales of tablets in China are growing at 63 percent annually, and analysts expect demand to carry on growing.

In the third quarter, 2.6 million units were sold, up from 1.59 million in the same period a year ago, said Analysys International in a report on Wednesday.

"I think more vendors will want to enter China's tablet market, and this will spur more growth," said Li Yanyan, an analyst with the research firm. "There is still a lot of room to grow in China's tablet market."

The Chinese buy around 22 percent of the world's smartphones, but only 11 percent of the world's tablets, she said.

Apple still accounts for the bulk of tablet sales in China, where it has consistently dominated the sector, but in the third quarter its market share dropped to 71.4 percent from 72.6 percent in the previous quarter.

Research firm IDC said shipments of iPads to China in the third quarter were almost double the previous quarter, but official sales figures showed consumers' response was more tepid, said Li.

Instead, many interested Chinese consumers had already bought the device in the second quarter from the nation's gray market vendors. These unofficial vendors try to cut into early demand by purchasing the product overseas and then selling them to customers in China who are unwilling to wait for the official launch. Apple began selling its third-generation iPad in China on July 20, four months after the device went on sale in the U.S. Experts attributed the delay to Apple fighting a long trademark battle for ownership of the "IPAD" name, which it finally gained in early July.

"I think this impacted Apple's market share for the quarter," Li said.

Behind Apple is Chinese PC maker Lenovo, which made 10.5 percent of the tablets sold in China in the third quarter. The company is benefitting from its strong brand in the country, along with the release of new budget tablet products, Li said.

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