Based on DisplayResearch’s recent data on panel shipments, small tablets may begin to experience a rapid increase in sales during 2013 and continue to dominate its larger, 9 to 10 inch counterparts. From December 2012 to January 2013, the numbers of 7 to 7.9 inch panels shipped are observed to have risen from 12 million units to approximately14 million units. For the larger, 9.7 inch panels, on the other hand, shipments plunged from 7.4 million units down to approximately 1.3 million units. The sharp contrasts in the performances of the panel shipments can be more clearly seen in the diagram below, which was originally posted on DisplayResearch’s website:
Initially, the research firm claimed Apple would be shipping 40 million iPad minis and 60 million iPads throughout the course of 2013. Following what appears to be a heightened craze for the Cupertino company’s miniature tablet, though, Apple is now said to have adjusted its expectations, and will reportedly aim to sell 55 million iPad minis and 33 million iPad units instead. The supposed shift in product mix, provided it is accurate, appears consistent with Apple’s alleged goal to seize from Google (as well as Amazon) as much of the mini-tablet market as possible.
As consumer interest in portability and convenience grows, and as the affordable pricing trend becomes stronger, the number of small-sized tablet competitors is expected to increase substantially. From the Mobile World Conference last week, it has become clear that players such as HP, ASUS, and Samsung are all serious about making major impact in the 7-8 inch market. White-box tablet makers from China are also expected to seize the lucrative opportunities associated with small sized tablets, according to David Hsieh of DisplayResearch.
Factoring in the above trend (along with the stronger-than-expected “phablet” hype), DisplayResearch has estimated that of the forecasted 254 million tablet PCs panels expected to ship in 2013, approximately 136 million will belong to panels that are between 5 to 8.9 inches.