Apple’s iPad is the primary driver responsible for a 56 percent annual bump in shipments in the tablet display market, according to a new report from supply chain research firm IHS. Total shipments are expected to hit 126.6 million units, up from 82.1 million last year, with larger devices including Apple’s iPad driving the bulk of those shipments.
But the 7-inch market is growing quickly, and will account for a much larger percentage of the tablet industry in 2012 than it did in 2011. 9.x-inch displays will account for the majority with 59 percent, but 7.x-inch displays are projected to grow in shipment volume from 20.8 to 40.1 million units between last year and 2012. That’ll give it 32 percent of the overall tablet display market by the end of the year, versus just 26 percent in 2011, and IHS expects that trend to continue.
New, low-cost devices from both Amazon and Google are probably helping the growth of smaller devices along, but it’s also worth noting that the 9.x-inch segment is still getting larger overall, going from 55.2 million display shipments in 2011 to a projected 74.3 million units by year’s end. And in case anyone was thinking that this represents a potential weakness regarding Apple’s tablet game, it’s worth pointing out that IHS included in its considerations the possibility of a 7.x-inch device release from Apple in the form of an iPad mini coming out later this year. If anything, the growing market at that end of the spectrum is merely an indication that Apple should be looking in that direction to grow its own hold on the tablet market.
The big winners on the manufacturing side this season were LG Display and Samsung, with 42 and 38 percent market share respectively. Both are key component suppliers to Apple, and that should help them continue to hold their lead in at least the near future. IHS notes that others are poised to enter the game, however, as panel suppliers in general see the growth opportunity in the emerging tablet market.
With new products out from Amazon, Kobo, Google and other manufacturers using Android including Samsung, the two big wildcards remain the possibility of an iPad mini, and the effect Windows 8 devices will have on the tablet space once they ship. Both are expected either later this year (an iPad mini announcement could come as soon as October, and the anticipated ship date of Microsoft’s Surface tablets is October 26).