HCM CITY — When Tri Nam Company unveiled its Bipad 9 tablet at a price of VND1.98 million (US$95) last month, the market heard that PI Viet Nam would soon introduce its PI E002 tablet at VND1.8 million.
Many people believe a price war is imminent between manufacturers and distributors of tablets, or flat-panel portable computers.
Pham Hong Tuyen, director of the PI Viet Nam, told Vietnamplus that the reason his company was entering the low-cost tablet market was the result of a recent market research which said 30 per cent of buyers preferred tablets costing less than VND3 million.
Statistics from chodientu.vn also show that cheap tablets account for 30 per cent of all tablets sold through this website.
Nguyen Tuan Anh, director of Tung Anh IT Co, Ltd, said because of the economic downturn, consumers, especially students, preferred low-priced tablets.
Nguyen Anh Hoa, technical director of Tri Nam Company, said when his company launched cheap tablets, there was no one else making them at VND2-3 million.
To put this into perspective, the cheapest tablet sold by Samsung costs around VND12.4 million, while Acer's lowest-priced offering is VND8.6 million.
However, if producers focused just on price competition and ignore quality, they would not exist for long in the market because large companies would soon enter the segment, Hoa warned.
It is possible to produce even cheaper tablets, but both Tuyen and Hoa agreed that it might mean a trade-off in quality.
Hoa, also pointing out that the product was not meant for use for a short period, said his company would focus on quality and after-sales services rather than join a price war.
The PI Viet Nam too said it would not join a price race, adding it had not even defined who its competitors were.
"We are just concerned with consumers' needs and will try to satisfy them," Tuyen said.
PI offers a one-year warranty on PI tablets besides free games and other software.
Analysts expect competition to be bruising in the low-cost tablet segment, and warn big players like the FPT and Viettel, who are preparing to launch their own low-cost tablets at $200, that they should reconsider their strategy.
But customers in Viet Nam have always been worried about after-sale services and it would take businesses to not merely compete on price and quality to completely win their trust. — VNS