IHS: Smaller tablets fueled Q1 success as tablet market more than doubled

IHS: Smaller tablets fueled Q1 success as tablet market more than doubled

Summary: Based on a new report, the 7.x-inch display appears to be the sweet spot for the tablet market.


The tablet market is all but established as a permanent (and dominant) player in the PC market.

According to the latest figures from IHS iSuppli, the tablet market more than doubled during the first quarter, growing 111.9 percent year-over-year to 45.2 million units shipped worldwide.

Yet, it should be noted that shipments were down by 13 percent sequentially, but that is likely due to typical dropoffs for retail after the holiday season.

IHS analysts praised smaller tablets as the fueling factor here -- notably because of dropping price tags.

For example, the average price of a touchscreen for a 7.0-inch tablet in Q1 was approximately $15.60, down 16 percent from $18.60 from the same time a year prior.

Duke Yi, senior manager for display components and materials research at IHS, elaborated further in the report:

Sales of smaller-sized tablets are rising at a rapid rate, driving shipments of capacitive touch screen displays ranking in size from 7- to 8-inches. These tablets are inexpensive, with pricing at $199, making them popular among consumers. With the level of competition increasing in both the tablet and panel markets, pricing is expected to continue to decline, boosting shipments of displays and end products in this size range.

The IHS report solidifies projections made earlier this year by market intelligence firm IDC.

More recently in May, IDC analysts predicted that tablet shipments will surpass 229.3 million units in 2013, up 58.7 percent from 144.5 million units in 2012. Tablet shipments are expected to bypass portable PCs this year and then outrun the entire PC market by 2015.

But it is the smaller tablet market in particular, according to IDC, that will do the job. Researchers from that firm forecasted that tablets with screen sizes of 8 to 11 inches will account for only 37 percent of the market in 2017, down from 73 percent in 2011.

Topics: Mobility, Android, Tablets, PCs, Tech Industry

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  • Fad

    WAIT! Didn't one of our favorite trolls insist on this tablet thing being just a fad? Could it be he was WRONG?


    • WAIT

      Didn't I read this article last month

      And the one before.........
  • 7" tablets are new...

    ...and cheaper, so it isn't a huge surprise that this segment is growing rapidly. However, while I love mine, I do find that it is caught between my phone and my 10" tablet...and sometimes I wonder if it really has room to exist. Most of the things I would do on it, I can comfortably do on my large screen phone. If I need larger, I find myself skipping it and grabbing my 10".

    Again, 7" is convenient and will probably appeal most to people that 1) Can't afford or Don't have a 10" tablet and/or 2) don't have a large form factor phone.

    OR, it may have the opposite effect going forward. Maybe people will decide they don't need a large form factor phone and small, convenient phone form factors may re-emerge....who knows.
    • Conflicted

      I'm kinda conflicted myself. Two recent purchases pretty much reordered my tablet computing paradigm. The first was buying a Smansung Galaxy SIII. The screen is significantly larger than the one on my old HTC Evo, and I find more and more that I use in in ways I used to use my Nexus 7. Meanwhile, at the other end I recently bought a Surface RT, and it serves my purposes better than the Asus Transformer I also own. So the Nexus 7 is starting to feel a tad to small. I'm thinking my next tablet may be an 8" device like the Samsung Galaxy 8 3.0. I like the slim bezel. It's barely wider than my Nexus 7 while sporting a much larger screen. OTOH, it's not enough of a speed boost vs. the Nexus 7 to seriously tempt me. Maybe the next generation of Galaxy Note 8.0 will do the trick.
    • for me, I got a 10" iPad and later a transformer

      both before I even had a smartphone. I have since moved to mostly just the smartphone, and the nexus 7 on the excercise bike. The 10" tablets just feel too bulky and questionable need. If I'm going 10" or above, I'd rather have a 13" thin macbook or something.
      If I am going to watch a movie, I use a TV. If its on the go, I really don't see much difference between a 7 and 10 for movies. They are both very small experiences. The 7" is also better for ebooks and most uses due to being smaller. The 10 might be better for magazines and games but I don't really do that.
    • No they're not!

      Dude, 7" tablets have been around since before the iPad. My Viewsonic ViewPad 7 is - as you might guess - a 7" and it was out before the iPad.

      7" tablets are a sweet spot (especially which hires displays) because they're light, compact, fit in your pocket and are easy to hold in one hand.. yet at the same time, big enough to read comfortably.

      For most people - that's all they need.

      The 8"-9" ones are the ones you're thinking about. I have a Note 10 and considered a Note 8 until I put one against my Note 10 and realized that it's almost as big.. it doesn't fit into any jacket pocket. It's clumsy to hold in one hand (oddly, the Note 10 is actually easier because you tend to hold it like a clipboard rather than a book).
      The Werewolf!
  • Based on a new report, the 7.x-inch display appears to be the sweet spot

    I guess that depends on what people are doing with them. The same screen on 7 inch vs 10 inch puts everything closer together, harder to see and navigate, may be fine if you are 20 something with good eyesight. Oh wait if people are just playing games and watching YouTube, Netflix, TV/movies but that's not replacing a PC it's replacing your television set and game console.
    Without age group data, usage profiles, etc. this report is just drivel.
  • Apple Needs A 7-incher

    Falling Ipad sales over the same period show how out of step Apple is with the changing market.

    Meanwhile, Windows PhRT is struggling to trim its obese girth down to 8 inches...
    • What part of "7.x-inch display" do you not understand?

      Apple's iPad Mini display size is 7.9 inches.

      As ZDNet's Ed Bott say's, "better trolls, please".
      Rabid Howler Monkey
      • And speaking of reading comprehension...

        ld017 said "Apple needs a 7-incher". He didn't say the article suggested that Apple needed one.

        And "7-incher" isn't "7.0 to 7.9" It's 7. It's the difference between a Nexus 7 and an iPad mini and only ONE of those fits in most my jacket pockets. (hint - not the iPad mini).
        The Werewolf!
    • no way

      Steve jobs told them all 7" tablets are dead in the water.
  • I just have to wonder how much of this is that 7" is a great size

    and how much is just the lower cost. I've had a 10" iPad, a 10" android, and now a 9" Nook HD+. The Nook is really an ideal size to me. it's aspect is narrower than iPad, so it really is significantly smaller and lighter. It makes ipad 10 seem big, heavy, expensive, fragile, and you see why people put cases on them to protect their investment. And that just makes them yet bigger and heavier. Yet on the Nook the hi res screen puts a lot in view. It's light and cost little and you just don't worry about it. I don't see why I would want a smaller screen. And I don't want to carry around anything bigger. To me it's about the sweet spot. What I'm saying is that if cost and performance and resolution were taken out of the equation people would probably choose 8 or 9 inchers. If ipad 8 were hi res it would be pretty irresistible. ipad 10 would be left in the dust so that's probably why they don't do it. I'll probably get a Note 8 when they have hi res screens cause I do love the stylus action. Though really a Note 9. . . . take my money please.
    • It is both.

      As you said, the iPad and even Nexus 10 or Asus Transformer tablets all become uncomfortable to hold up and read for long periods of time. Of course you then end up setting it down and kink your neck or strain your upper back (This is actually turning into a real problem).

      For me, I like the smaller tablet with a more narrow frame because reading is easier if your eyes can see the whole line perfectly sharp and that's not plausible for everyone on an iPad Mini or Note 8.

      Anyway, you asked how much is price. I say quite a bit, as it does open up markets but, other factors come into play as well.
  • The very reason Microsoft wanted to change the trajectory with Surface.

    Consumers are finding themselves reaching for the tablets more and more instead of the traditional "pc". It's light, simple and most importantly convenient for consumption and light computing (the majority of the ways consumers use their traditional "pc").

    Microsoft seeing how users were using these tablet "devices" tried desperately to change the tide with Surface RT/Pro. A tablet shouldn't just be a simpe extension of the smartphone (a toy), it should be more complex and latched onto the traditional PC architecture. It should have confusing duel user environment. It should be made into hybrid netbooks with expensive keyboards being a focal point of the hardware (those awful Glee-like ads). Focus on landscape orientation and make it no less than 10.1" in size.

    Microsoft saw the writing on the wall and wanted desperately to change consumers view on what a tablet really was. A "tablet PC/Netbook hybrid, not just a larger smartphone device. Wonder how well that's working out?
  • Study is irrelevant in one year

    The arrival of the smartwatch market will cannibalize the high-end smartphone and 7" tablet and phablet markets. If the smartwatch can especially connect to a PC, a tablet or a smartphone, then people will start to buy the smartwatch as the accessory device and the PC or the smartphone will remain as the main device.

    I see the 7"-8" consumer tablet device disappearing by 2016 in NA and Europe leaving only the mid/low end smartphone markets as well as the smartwatch markets.

    Weartable computing will displace tablets and that is a sure thing if one understands human interface computing. It is just simpler to send and receive information while on the go with an attached device than by carrying a handheld device.
  • How was it that Android beat Apple with 7.x-inch tablets?

    Apple's iPad debuted in April, 2010, and caught both Google and the Open Handset Alliance (OHA) flat-footed. Google copied the iOS-based iPhone with Android so perfectly, that, at the time of the iPad release, Android was a smartphone OS and all it would support was 7.0-inch form factor tablets. For OHA members, it was either produce 7-inch, Android 2.x tablets or wait for Android 3.0 which was released in February, 2011.

    In fact, Google had to fork its own Android 2.x with the 3.x branch, Honeycomb, in order to not only add support for larger form factor tablets like Apple's 9.7-inch iPad, but also to optimize Android for tablets. One has to wonder whether or not Google's OHA partners would have led with 7-inch tablets if Android 2.x had been fully tablet-ready in early 2010.

    It's also useful to remember that HP led with the WebOS-based TouchPad, announced in February, 2011, which had a 9.7-inch screen. Although HP had plans for a smaller form factor tablet, it exited the tablet market before any 7.x-inch tablets saw the light of day.
    Rabid Howler Monkey