updated 06:14 pm EDT, Mon September 17, 2012
iPad-sized tablets to ship 74.3 million units
Seven-inch tablets like Amazon's Kindle Fire HD and Google's Nexus 7 are expected to see significant shipment increases this year, which if translated into actual sales could see non-Apple slates taking almost a third of the overall tablet market. This according to IHS iSuppli, which announced its estimates for the 2012 tablet market today. Apple's iPad is still expected to dominate the market on the whole, but iSuppli's estimates indicate that the Cupertino company is likely to face mounting competition as the sector expands.
IHS iSuppli's figures come from an analysis of small and medium display production numbers. On the whole, iSuppli expects display manufacturers to ship about 126.6 million units of all sizes, up 56 percent from last year's 82.1 million unit figure.
iSuppli expects the 9.x-inch tablet segment to ship about 74.3 million units by the end of the year, with Apple's iPad far ahead of competitors. Those 74.3 million units will account for about 59 percent of all tablets shipped for 2012. The 7.x-inch segment is estimated to ship 41.1 million units, nearly double the 20.8 million it shipped last year. Other tablet sizes will account for the remaining 11.2 million units in the overall total.
With that increase in shipments, the 7.x-inch category will account for 32 percent of the tablet display market for 2012, up from 26 percent in 2011. The company found that LG Display and Samsung will continue to be the main suppliers. LG supplies Apple, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble, while Samsung's display division provides screens for a range of other manufacturers.
The 7-inch space has seen increased attention in recent months, thanks in part to Amazon's Kindle Fire refresh and the apparent success of Google's Nexus 7. Apple is expected to enter the space with an 8-inch model of its own in the coming months. Former CEO Steve Jobs was famously critical of the 7-inch form factor, but factions within Apple are said to have continually pressed for Apple to produce a device in that range, and the company may have finally decided to produce such a model before Jobs' death last year.