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Chinese tablet maker creates iPad rival?

While the powers that be at Apple Inc head office might not exactly be trembling with fear, they will most certainly be casting an eye over the growing influence a little Chinese company is having on that country's rapidly developing tablet market.

business Updated: Feb 14, 2012 13:53 IST

While the powers that be at Apple Inc head office might not exactly be trembling with fear, they will most certainly be casting an eye over the growing influence a little Chinese company is having on that country's rapidly developing tablet market.

ErenEben now has the second-largest share of the Chinese tablet market, according to industry watchers Analysys International, and while that share might only amount to six percent, it still puts the company ahead of the likes of China's much-heralded international gadget maker Lenovo and the South Korean giant Samsun Electronics.

An estimated five million tablets were sold across mainland China in 2011, according to the international research company IDC, with the market expected to expand to 18 million units this year.

And ErenEben is hoping to increase its slice of the pie by heavily promoting its tablet's Mind Mark feature, which uses a stylus to allow users to see their own handwriting on screen.

The company has made the device a lot more friendly to the local market by installing a Chinese copy book application -- a feature it is cleverly marketing to an older generation that might not exactly get what this tablet business is all about. Calligraphy has long been a cherished part of Chinese culture and a much-envied skill and the country's leaders have already given ErenEben's tablet a vote of confidence by naming it the "hand-writing computer of the meeting" at last year's all-important Fourth Session of the 11th Chinese People's Political Consulation Conference.

The local tablet - fitted with Google's Android system - sets consumers back 4,980 yuan (596 euros) compared to the 3,688 yuan (441 euro) to 5,288 yuan (633 euro) they can expect to pay for an iPad.

"Most government officials and business leaders are of the older generation and are used to writing in their own style. And they are the ones with strong purchasing power," ErenEben's chief operation officer Fang Liyong told the South China Morning Post. T he tablet market is having an increasingly larger influence on the international gadget market -- and, of course, on consumers.

The Taiwan-based research firm Digitimes this month claimed tablet sales around the world would rise 60 percent in 2012, to more than 95 million units, with Apple predicted to grab a share amounting to a staggering 57 million units.