You know how it goes with trends. First there are guesses, then reports and finally cold, hard statistics. The shift towards smaller tablet form factors has been reported for more than a year now.
Sure there were other (read Windows) tablet devices available in the market even before Apple unleashed the original iPad. But by bringing to market the first version of its slate, the Cupertino based company popularized the 10 inch display size for tablets.
Other hardware vendors tried their luck with random numbers from 7 inches to 22 inches (ViewSonic, anyone?). Ultimately, regardless of popular opinion, size does matter.
Consumers took to heart the balance between portability and usability in the 7 inch segment. The affordability of slates the Kindle Fire and Google Nexus also played their part. And Apple was soon forced to join in the party with the iPad Mini.
Microsoft, however, focused on the 10 inch form factor with both the Surface RT and the Surface Pro.
But now a new report from Canalys claims that an outright overwhelming 68 percent of all tablets shipped in the second quarter of 2013 had displays that were smaller than 9 inches.
According to Tim Coulling, Canalys Senior Analyst:
“Consumers have been evaluating tablets and the results are now in … With touch-screens contributing to a high proportion of the build cost of a tablet, small-screen products can be priced very aggressively.”
The report also includes plenty of numbers that reveal that while Apple still led the charge in terms of overall tablet sales, iPad shipments witnessed a stark decline in the second quarter of the year.
On the other hand, tablets made by Samsung, Amazon, Lenovo and Acer each saw an increase of 200 percent year over year. All these vendors sell slates in the 7 and 8 inches range, and most of their offerings are notably affordable and inexpensive.
Microsoft is set to make its appearance in this competitive segment of tablets with smaller displays with the rumored second generation Surface Mini — a Windows RT tablet with either a 7 or 8 inch screen.
How Redmond mixes this and balances it out with larger screened tablets remains to be seen.
Power users have little to do with 7 inch consumer slates, after all. Meaning there is a very high chance that the 10.6 inch display size will continue for the Surface Pro, while adventures with smaller display sizes can be undertaken with either the Surface RT or the Surface Mini.