While the debate continues on the virtues of Apple’s (News - Alert) iPad Mini, the arrival of the smaller iPad will turbocharge the market for 7-inch tablets in general, according to information and analytics firm IHS (News - Alert) iSupply. As a result, the tablet market is expected to almost double in 2012 and 2013, says the market watcher.
In its latest study, IHS reports that global sales of tablets with displays in the 7-inch size range are expected to boom by about 100 percent this year to 34 million units, up from 17 million in 2011. IHS predicts that sales will nearly double again in 2013, rising 96 percent to 67 million units.
In a statement, said Rhoda Alexander, director, tablet and monitor research for IHS, “Just as Apple has dominated the market for 9.7-inch tablets with its iPad, iPad 2 and new iPad models, the company is poised to rule the market for 7.x-inch products, driving rapid growth of the segment in 2012 and 2013.”
“The battle in the 7-inch space is highly spirited, with most of the other leading vendors already offering price-competitive products in this size range,” noted Alexander.
According to the report, the 7-inch size range will account for 28 percent of all tablets in 2012, up from 24 percent in 2011. In 2013, the 7.x-inch share will rise to 33 percent.
IHS thinks that 2013 forecast for 7.x-inch tablet sales is conservative, with some factors potentially boosting the market to higher levels for the year.
The analyst believes that the major factor limiting shipments of the smaller iPad will not be demand, but a combination of production challenges and potential component supply issues. “Reported production difficulties point to the likelihood that Apple is once again pushing design boundaries with the new product. Sources also indicate there have been some supply issues for parts used in the Apple Lightning connector and in the display. If Apple can resolve these issues rapidly, 2013 shipments and sales may exceed the current forecast dramatically,” added Alexander.
The research firm expects the 7.x-inch product to be particularly popular in Asia, where interest in a smaller version of the iPad has been strong. “If Apple has sufficient supply to meet demand in Asia following product launch, then the 2013 sales could be off the charts,” asserted Alexander.
Edited by Brooke Neuman