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Report: New iPad mini in Q4 to boost small tablet explosion

Smaller sized tablet computers are expected to dominate the tablet market in the second half of the year, according to research by DisplaySearch - who expect a new iPad mini to drive the surge.

Slates with screen sizes smaller than nine inches will make up 66 per cent of tablet shipments this year in total, according to previous forecasts, but that number is expected to increase further starting in the third quarter of the year.

DisplaySearch cited supply chain indications to suggest that a slew of 8in tablets will be releasing in July-September, the busy 'back-to-school' shopping period. It also predicts the launch of new iPad mini models in the fourth quarter which would no doubt boost the segment as a whole.

2012 saw 9in tablets hold a 60 per cent market share, but 2013 is seeing a shift towards even smaller models. The two leading screen sizes in the first quarter of 2013 are 7in, with a 35 per cent share, and 7.9in, with a 15 per cent share.

Apple's 7.9in iPad mini has helped open up a “middle class” market, according to DisplaySearch, with higher prices (and therefore higher profit margins) than 7in models, which tend to be considerably cheaper.

The refreshed iPad mini is expected to have the same screen size, but a slimmer design, an A6 processor, and, of course, iOS 7. Another iPad mini model is planned for early 2014, while a larger 9.7in iPad is expected in the third quarter.