Steve Jobs once said that a small-sized iPad would be “dead on arrival” and that tablet makers would learn a “painful lesson that their tablets are too small.” Well, no one is perfect. NDP Group’s research department, DisplaySearch, recently released a report showing that the iPad mini is expected to surpass the full-sized model much sooner than analysts had predicted.
DisplaySearch pointed out that, in January, tablet PC panel shipments shifted “dramatically” toward smaller screen sizes. Sales of 9.7-inch tablets (the numbers don’t delineate iPad tablets versus others) fell from 7.4 million in December of 2012 to only 1.3 million in January. Sales of 7.9-inch tablets grew from 12 million to 14 million in the same time frame.
The research firm also noted that Apple’s December projection for 2013 was for 40 million iPad mini tablets and 60 million full-sized iPads. After the December to January tablet performance, DisplaySearch believes it will be the opposite.
“The reality seems to be the reverse, as the iPad mini has been more popular than the iPad. We now understand that Apple may be planning to sell 55M iPad minis (7.9”) and 33M iPads (9.7”) in 2013.”
While DisplaySearch is predicting that the market will see 7.9-inch tablets surpassing sales of 9.7-inch tablets in 2013, the firm points to key issues that may alter the numbers as the year progresses.
For one, an influx of 5-6 inch smart phones may have an effect on sales of a tablet that is only two inches bigger. Additionally, better-quality screens (Retina display) will be more expensive to make, pushing for a need to increase the price. One thing that makes smaller sized tablets so appealing is the fact that they are nearly half the price of a full-sized device. It will be harder to justify purchasing a 7-inch tablet when you can just get a 10-inch tablet for slightly more.
Another possible issue that may affect the market is the launch of a fifth-generation iPad. This new full-sized tablet is rumored to be completely redesigned and may entice consumers back into the 9.7-inch iPad realm.