A new study by iHS iSuppli reveals that the demand for 7-inch tablets is increasing. This year, out of the 126.6 million tablets that are expected to be sold, 32% are predicted to be 7-inchers. Last year, 7-inch tablets only accounted for 26% of sales. Meanwhile, almost 60% of these units will controlled by Apple through the 9.7-inch iPad. The rest of the market belongs to the 8-inch tablets, which account for 9% of the forecast sales, and 5-inch tablets, which has less than 1%. The number of tablet shipments, in general, is also growing: sales have risen to as much as 56% compared to last year’s 82.1 million figure.
These data reveal that although the iPad still reigns at the top, tablet manufacturers can take advantage of the growing 7-inch segment. As iHS iSuppli points out, this segment is supported by the budget-friendly tablets that are being released. Apart from this, there is a rumor floating around that Apple will be launching a smaller iPad this year. If the rumor is correct, GigaOM analyzes, the smaller iPad may boost this segment even further.
Recently, Scott Forstall of Apple mentioned the advantages of smaller-sized slates during one of the hearings of the Apple vs. Samsung case. In Forstall’s words, “I believe there will be a 7-inch market and we should do one.” Among the main advantages of a smaller tablet are portability, functionality, and price. The Google Nexus 7, the Amazon Kindle Fire, and the Nook Tablet, all with smaller-sized form factors, attest to its benefits.
Meanwhile, the other findings of the iHS iSuppli research focus on tablet displays. They show that LG Display and Samung Display were the top suppliers of displays for tablets during the year’s first quarter. LG has 42% of the shipment market share whereas Samsung enjoys 38%. Joining these companies in the production of LCD panels are Sharp, Japan Display and Panasonic.