The future of tablets? It's all about the 8-inch model: analyst

Smaller variations are going to account for over half of overall tablets this year, analysts say.

NPD DisplaySearch analyst Richard Shim says that tablet PCs with screen sizes smaller than 9 inches will account for 66 percent of overall shipments this year — and the trend is going to continue.


In a blog post on Tuesday, Shim says that although Android tablets are often 7- or 10-inch models, 8-inch tablets represent the best balance between larger smartphones and the tablet PC.

According to the analysis firm, supply chain indications point to the additional production of 8-inch tablet models with 1280 x 800 displays this year. Acer, Asus, Dell and Lenovo are all expected to produce 8-inch variations, and "8-inch tablets will make up between 5 to 10 percent of the total tablet PC market by the end of the year."

The market research firm believes that tablet shipments should see a 67 percent increase year-on-year to 256.5 million units in 2013 from 153.6 million in 2012, whereas PC shipments will decline five percent year-on-year from 214 million units in 2012 to 203 million units in 2013.

DisplaySearch says that as tablet sales strengthen and PC shipments sag, 9-inch and larger tablet models have dominated sales, accounting for 60 percent of shipments in 2012. In 2013, the company estimates that smaller tablets will account for this rate. Tablets equipped with 7 and 7-9 inch screen sizes are expected to take 35 and 15 percent of the market this year respectively.

The 8-inch tablet trend is touted as a means to drive further adoption and entice consumers who want to part with less than $200 per device. In addition, Apple's planned refresh of the iPad Mini in the fourth quarter is believed to be a catalyst for production changes. Shim writes that "Brands are hoping to expand this “middle class,” gaining some share and slightly better margins than 7-inch tablet PCs."