Apple's iPad mini
Taipei, April 15 (CNA) Eight-inch tablet computers will likely replace 7-inch tablets in the market because of their bigger screens and the increasingly narrow margins companies are generating on the smaller-sized tablet, according to a market research company.
With sales of desktop and laptop computers sluggish, tablets have become an important product line for branded computer makers to boost sales, with the 8-inch tablet likely to have a key role in the future, said WitsView, the display division of global intelligence provider TrendForce.
The 8-inch tablet's major appeal in the market will be as a replacement for the 7-inch device, which has become less profitable for vendors amid fierce price competition as more models hit the market, said WitsView R&D Director Chiu Yu-pin.
A key feature of the 8-inch device will be its streamlined frame, which will allow the device to be the similar overall size to the 7-inch tablet but with a much bigger visual area, Chiu said.
If its price can fall in the range of the smaller model, he said, the 8-inch tablet will gradually take center stage in the market.
The 8-inch device is also being touted by the non-Apple camp as a challenger to Apple's new iPad mini, which has been well received by consumers, according to Chiu.
The 8-inch product will be slightly larger than the 7.85-inch iPad mini but priced about US$50-US$100 lower than the Apple product, features that were apparently both devised with the iPad mini in mind, Chiu said.
WitsView predicted that 8-inch tablets will account for 4.5 percent of global tablet shipments in the first half of the year during the initial stages of the device's launch.
But the share could rise to 17.6 percent in the second half after several name brands such as Samsung, Acer, HP, Lenovo and Asus launch their 8-inch devices.
Compared with 2012 when 8-inch tablets accounted for only 2.6 percent of the market, their market share is expected to rise to 11.9 percent in 2013, WitsView forecast.
(By Pan Chi-I and Y.L. Kao)