Demand for 7-inch tablets increases swiftly, report says

Tablet shipments will increase 56 percent this year, with help from the growing popularity of 7-inch tablets, IHS reports.

Apparently, it's a good time for Apple's rumored iPad Mini to hit the market.

Though Apple's 9-inch-screen iPad is still king of the tablet market, the demand for smaller, 7-inch screen models from other brands is growing quickly this year, analytics firm IHS reported today.

The combined demand for tablets, big or small, is projected to reach 126.6 million units shipped for 2012, an increase of 56 percent from last year's 82.1 million, according IHS. LG Display and Samsung remained the main suppliers of tablets displays -- they make the liquid crystal display panels that are used in the iPad. LG also makes displays for Amazon and Barnes & Noble, while Samsung keeps its product in-house for its own tablets. These companies are investing in developing wide-angle technology as well as improved resolution, power consumption, and overall performance, IHS said.

Nearly 60 percent of units shipped this year will be 9-inch screen tablets with the iPad at the top of the list, according to the firm. But the 7-inch tablets are cutting into the iPad's hold on the market -- those shipments account for 32 percent, up from 26 percent last year.

The real losers this year? The 8-inch and 5-inch tablets, which will account for 9 percent and less than 1 percent of the market, respectively.

IHS estimates the 7-inch-screen tablet market will further explode with cheaper 7-inchers coming on to the market -- not to mention Apple's rumored 7-inch iPad Mini expected later this year.