Is Apple’s iPad Being Threatened by Low-Price Competitors?

This year will see 126.6 million unit sales of tablets globally as seven-inch versions of the device grow in popularity and edge closer to the numbers of the Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPad, IHS iSuppli said in a research report. That will represent a 56 percent annual increase in shipments from 82.1 million units in 2011.

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“While the nine-inch segment dominated by the iPad will account for the majority of tablet display shipments this year, the fastest-growing portion of the market will the 7.x-inch screens used in products like the Galaxy Tab from Samsung Electronics, the Kindle Fire from Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN), the Nook Tablet from Barnes & Noble (NYSE:BKS), and other tablet products using the Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android operating system,” IHS analyst Vinita Jakhanwal said in her report.

While the iPad will still be “the uncontested leader” of the larger screen format, sales in the seven-inch segment are expected to nearly double from 20.8 million units last year.  Growth in the larger segment, headlined by the iPad, is forecast to grow 35 percent from 55.2 million units in 2011. IHS does not have much hope for eight-inch and five-inch tablets, which, it predicts, will account for 9 percent and less than 1 percent of the market, respectively.

Interestingly, IHS mentioned the possibility of Apple entering the seven-inch market with its rumored iPad Mini while talking about that segment’s predicted market share growth.

Apple suppliers LG and Samsung dominate the market for the LCD displays used in tablets, with a 42 percent and 38 percent market share, respectively.

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