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While the number of media tablet models with 7”-class screens is overwhelming, their actual market share is pretty limited these days. The arrival of the smaller iPad will turbocharge the market for 7” tablets, helping the market to approximately double in 2012 and 2013, according to the IHS iSuppli.

“Just as Apple has dominated the market for 9.7” tablets with its iPad, iPad 2 and new iPad models, the company is poised to rule the market for 7”-class products, driving rapid growth of the segment in 2012 and 2013,” said Rhoda Alexander, director, tablet and monitor research for IHS.

Global sales of tablets with displays in the 7” size range are expected to boom by about 100% this year to 34 million units, up from 17 million in 2011, as presented in the figure below. Sales will nearly double again in 2013, rising 96% to 67 million. The 7”-class slates will account for 28% of all tablets in 2012, up from 24% in 2011. In 2013, the 7”-class share will rise to 33%.

“The battle in the 7” space is highly spirited, with most of the other leading vendors already offering price-competitive products in this size range. IHS predicts Apple will successfully position the smaller iPad as a device that will be attractive and easy to adopt for both new and returning customers. This will spur rapid sales growth and provide tough competition for other companies contending in this size range,” explained the analyst.

As reported, the major factor limiting shipments of the smaller iPad will not be demand, but a combination of production challenges and potential component supply issues. Therefore, the actual impact of iPad mini on the market may vary. Apple’s capability to meet all demand and launch the product in all global regions promptly will be a major factor determining its near-term sales level.

“IHS expects the 7”-class product category 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,” explained Ms. Alexander.

As Apple is entering the market of smaller slates, its rivals who use Google Android operating systems are increasingly looking at the 8”-class and larger categories as they seek to find new avenues of differentiation compared to Apple.

Tags: Apple, iPad, iOS

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