Tablet downsizing trend to quicken in second half of 2013
The shift toward smaller tablets will accelerate in the second half of the year when a slew of tablet makers, including Apple, introduce new models with screens 8 inches or smaller, said Richard Shim, an analyst with DisplaySearch.
Although larger-sized tablets dominated 2012—those 9 inches and larger accounted for 60% of sales last year—the going-small switch has picked up unexpected speed, Shim said.
“In 2013, it is smaller tablet PCs that are expected to make up over 60% of shipments,” he said in a Tuesday blog post. DisplaySearch estimates that for the year, 66% of all tablets sold will sport screens smaller than 9 inches.
8-inch tablets the sweet spot?
Last month, rival research firm IDC said tablets 8 inches and smaller would account for 55% of the total for 2013.
Shim attributed the tablet flip of fortunes to a race to the basement by tablets 7 inches and smaller, and moves by several manufacturers, including Apple, to solidify their profit margins with slightly-larger formats.
“While tablet PCs with 7-inch displays appear to be heading for the low end of the market (less than $200), Apple’s iPad mini with its 7.9-inch display (shown at the top of the story) has captured a significant share of the market, despite its starting price of $329,” Shim noted. “Brands are hoping to expand this ‘middle class,’ gaining some share and slightly better margins than 7-inch tablet PCs.”
OEMs including Acer, Asus, Dell and Lenovo will launch 8-inch tablets in the July-September quarter, said Shim, citing DisplaySearch’s checks on Asian screen suppliers.
Apple, meanwhile, will debut a new iPad Mini in the second half of the year—analysts believe September or October are the likeliest targets—that retains the 1024 by 768 pixel resolution of the original, and not, as fans might hope, a Retina-quality screen.
The Mini will come with iOS 7 and is expected to be powered by the Apple-designed A6 system-on-a-chip (SoC), the same processor inside the iPhone 5.
Shim forecast a Retina iPad Mini (with a resolution of 2048 by 1536 pixels, the same as the current 9.7-inch iPad) for 2014, probably in the first quarter.
Although Shim didn’t mention Microsoft or Windows, the Redmond, Wash. developer and its OEM partners will also get into the smaller tablet mix this year.
Acer, for example, has already shown the first-ever 8.1-inch Windows 8-powered tablet, the Iconia W3. Although higher-priced than the entry-level 16GB iPad Mini—the Iconia will sell for $379 in a 32GB configuration, $429 with 64GB of storage—analysts expect others to follow, including a “Mini” Surface RT from Microsoft, at slightly lower prices.