SAN JOSE, Calif. – A market watcher estimates that Apple will double the size of the market for seven-inch tablets, even before the iPad maker opened its launch event on Tuesday (Oct. 23). Seven-inch tablets will leap from 17 million units in 2011 to 34 million this year and 67 million in 2013, in part due to sales of an expected mini iPad, according to projections by IHS iSuppli.
“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,” said Rhoda Alexander, director, tablet and monitor researcher for IHS. A smaller iPad “will spur rapid sales growth and provide tough competition for other companies contending in this size range."
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The seven-inch screen size will account for 28 percent of all tablets in 2012, up from 24 percent in 2011, rising to 33 percent in 2014. Sales may be limited by part shortages such as components for Apple’s new Lightning connector.
“If Apple can resolve these issues rapidly, 2013 shipments and sales may exceed the current forecast dramatically,” Alexander said, noting demand should be particularly strong in Asia. “If Apple has sufficient supply to meet demand in Asia following product launch, then the 2013 sales could be off the charts."
Competitors with existing seven-inch tablets such as Amazon and Samsung may move up to eight-inch displays to seek a new niche where Apple does not play, IHS predicted. However, tablets debuting this week with Microsoft’s Windows RT and Windows 8 are generally expected to be 10-inch or larger displays.
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