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iPad Mini to bury 9.7-inch iPad in 2013, says DisplaySearch

If last month is any indicator, 2013 may be the year of the iPad Mini and smaller tablets in general.

iPad 4 and iPad Mini. iPad Mini will eclipse the 9.7-inch iPad by a wide margin in 2013, says DisplaySearch.
iPad 4 and iPad Mini. iPad Mini will eclipse the 9.7-inch iPad by a wide margin in 2013, says DisplaySearch. Brooke Crothers

The venerable 9.7-inch iPad will get buried by the iPad Mini in 2013, NPD DisplaySearch said today in a research note.

If January is any indicator it could be a pretty sharp shift. Shipments of 9.7-inch tablet panels (iPad) "collapsed," falling to 1.3 million in January from 7.4 million a month earlier, DisplaySearch said.

But 7-inch and 7.9-inch (many of the latter are the iPad Mini) panel shipments grew to 14 million from 12 million in the same period.

And it will get pretty lopsided for the whole of 2013, DisplaySearch said.

"We now understand that Apple may be planning to sell 55 [million] iPad Minis (7.9") and 33M iPads (9.7") in 2013," wrote DisplaySearch's David Hsieh.

Originally, Apple's planning was pretty much the opposite. It had planned to sell 40 million iPad Minis and 60 million 9.7-inch iPads in 2013, DisplaySearch said.

"However, the reality seems to be the reverse," Hsieh said.

Presumably, a lot of the 9.7-inch iPads sold this year will be the iPad 5, which is expected to have an iPad-Mini like design and be thinner, among other features.

Other display trends for smaller tablets in 2013, according to DisplaySearch:

  • Resolution: Very high-resolution 7.9-inch tablet displays could come in at least a couple of varieties. For example, UXGA (1,920x1,200) with a pixel density of 250 pixels per inch (PPI) or QXGA (2,048x1,536) with a PPI of 324. The latter is the resolution that Apple uses on the 9.7-inch Retina iPad.
  • Display technologies: This determines how thin, bright, and power-efficient the display is, among other things. There are three technology choices in the 7.9-inch segment: a-Si (amorphous silicon), LTPS (low temperature polysilicon), and oxide technology, such as IGZO. Which technology is used depends, to a large extent, on which display manufacturer Apple (and other tablet vendors) choose. Different display manufacturers favor different technologies.
  • Slim bezels: Due to the "popularity of the iPad Mini's slim bezel, slim bezels with thin panel frames have become important in the tablet PC market," DisplaySearch said. Some panel makers believe that LTPS, with the driver IC integrated, is the only way to realize a slim bezel. And others see LTPS as the only solution for slim-bezel tablets with a very high QXGA resolution. "However, the yield rate and huge investment of LTPS remain question marks."
  • Pricier 7.9-inch tablets : To date, 7.9-inch class tablets have been inexpensive, but this will change. "With upgrades in resolution, function, and product design these tablets may become pricier."