Will Smaller Tablets Outsell the Big Slates in 2013?

tabletsApple famously refused to sell a 7″ tablet for many years, then reversed that notion and came out with the iPad mini last year and it sold very well. iPad mini and its many cousins have solidified the smaller tablet market.

Display Search reported yesterday that in the first month of 2013, tablet PC panel shipments shifted dramatically toward smaller screen sizes.


Look at that growth in the 7″ and 7.9″ sizes—and the collapse in the 9.7″ size. In case you haven’t kept up with tablet screen sizes, that’s the size of the new iPad. The reduction might just be an adjustment for post-holiday sales, but still, it’s interesting that shipments of the iPad mini panels increased while the iPad size decreased.

Other tablets use the 9.7″ size as well, so I don’t want to read too much into it. Still, it’s food for thought. And Display Search seems to agree:

The January panel shipment data may be an indicator for 2013, starting with Apple’s product mix shift. As we noted in December, Apple had planned to sell 40M iPad minis (7.9”) and 60M iPads (9.7”) in 2013. However, 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. At the same time, Samsung, Amazon, Google, ASUS and Acer are all eyeing the 7-9” segment to grab tablet PC market share…

I personally like my 7″  Nexus 7, and I use it more than my iPad 2. However, the larger iPad screen has its uses, and I don’t think I’d abandon the larger tablet entirely.

How about you? If you’re in the market for a tablet, are you leaning toward small or large?

6 Comments on Will Smaller Tablets Outsell the Big Slates in 2013?

  1. You are reading the data and offering the wrong conclusion. Smaller tablets are not replacing the larger models. iPad mini is also popular because its 7.9″ offers 30% more content on display making it far more functional than a 7″ that Jobs refused to create. Larger model also has been on the market for awhile…and then there’s the price difference. Smaller tablets are actually more affordable now and are quite functional for smaller tasks.

  2. There is considerable evidence that there is a market for devices in the 5-8 inch size range. Customers frequently cite that portability, weight, and visual screen area for purchase of devices in this range like the Galaxy Note (1 and 2), Kindle/Kindle Fire, Nook, Nexus 7, etc.

    The Nexus 7 works for me because it acts as a highly functional and portable alternative to carrying a laptop.

  3. @Ben, I don’t think I ever said smaller models are replacing larger. Just that more smaller models are being sold now, and smaller models may begin selling better than the larger slates.

  4. It just looks like all the people that wanted a smaller iPad bought one this Christmas, and all the people who wanted a 9″-10″ tablet already got one last Christmas (overall Tablet sales dropped Dec to Jan).

    That’s one way to read the data anyway. March 2012 to March 2013 data will be more interesting.

  5. Actually, I take back my last comment. It’s mostly that specific 9.7″ form factor that flipped. 10″+ increased in Jan. I guess the 9.7″s are iPads, so iPad buyers appear to prefer the smaller size now that it’s available?

    Under 8″ does seem to be the preferred size now overall.

  6. One of the best analysts in the biz is Horace Dediu at asymco.com. Here’s a sample:

    When the conventional wisdom from the regular analysts, both financial and tech, after Jobs announced the iPad were going one way, Dediu was saying another and got it right. Bloomberg hailed him as being a bit of a genius about it. You’ll have to dig for those previous articles to see it.

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