Tablet PCs with screen sizes smaller than 9 inches are currently forecasted to account for 66% of tablet PC shipments for the year. However, that share is expected to increase starting in the third quarter of the year with new 8-inch tablets and a refresh of the iPad mini in the fourth quarter. These new tablet PCs are part of a trend in the tablet PC market that is balancing between differentiation between increasingly larger smartphones and an expansion of the tablet PC opportunity to further drive adoption.
The tablet PC market has been dominated by 9 inch and larger tablet PCs, which made up over 60% of total tablet PCs shipped in 2012. In 2013, it is smaller tablet PCs that are expected to make up over 60% of shipments. The two leading screen sizes in the small size (<9 inch) tablet PC category are 7 inch and 7.9 inch with 35% and 15% share in Q1’13 respectively. 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 has captured a significant share of the market, despite its starting price of $329. Brands are hoping to expand this “middle class,” gaining some share and slightly better margins than 7-inch tablet PCs.
Supply chain indications point to production of Android-based tablet PCs with 8-inch, 1280 x 800 displays in Q3’13. Brands including Acer, ASUS, Dell and Lenovo are expected to release 8-inch tablet PCs, according to our supply chain research. Initial panel production plans suggest that the 8-inch tablets will make up between 5 to 10% of the total tablet PC market by the end of the year. As notebook PC shipments continue to weaken while tablet PC shipments strengthen, brands are re-focusing their product strategies in response to a shift in consumer preference for tablet PCs. Total notebook PC shipments are expected to decline 5% Y/Y, from 214 million units in 2012 to 203 million units in 2013. Tablet PC shipments are expected to increase 67% Y/Y from 153.6 million units in 2012 to 256.5 million units in 2013.
Apple is expected to refresh its iPad mini in the second half of the year. The new iPad mini will continue to use a 7.9-inch display with a 1024×768 resolution, but it will use the iOS 7 operating system and an A6 processor, in a slimmer design than the current generation. Another iPad mini is also planned for production but not until early 2014. That device is expected to feature a QXGA (2048×1536) resolution display and the iOS 7 operating system. On the larger tablet PC front, Apple is expected to release a new iPad in the third quarter featuring a 9.7-inch 2048×1536 panel, an A7 processor and iOS 7. Apple’s mix of tablet PC shipments is projected to be 60% iPad mini and 40% iPad in 2013.