A lot of handwringing is going on over the decline of traditional PC and laptop sales, but a shift is happening in the tablet market, too — even as more and more users migrate toward slates for everyday Internet consumption. Small tablets are becoming even more popular than regular, 10-inch slates, and the popularity of the iPad mini really cemented this trend.
Now, with the Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0 making its debut and the iPad mini 2 on the horizon, many analysts and tech watchers expect small tablets to drive the majority of tablet sales this year.
According to ABI Research, 2013 will see the shipment of 150 million tablets, a 38-percent increase over the last year. Apple was responsible for 60 percent of last year's tablet sales, but it's largely expected that small, cheaper Android tablets will help take a big bite out of the iPad's dominance. The Galaxy Note 8.0 is expected to receive a huge marketing push from Samsung, and the success of the Galaxy Note line-up in general means it should have a fighting chance against Apple, even when the iPad mini 2 hits shelves.
"The tide is definitely turning toward Android-based tablets, though Apple will not slouch as it feels the competition approaching," Jeff Orr, mobile devices senior practice director, said in a press release. "The iPad mini was a timely introduction in 2012, though ABI Research remains cautious about the bottom line impact this is having for Apple. The first quarter of 2013 should be the first time where production was able to meet market demand and a better sense of how much 9.7" iPad volume has switched to the smaller, lower-cost mini will be understood."
ABI specifically pointed to Samsung and, indirectly, the Galaxy Note 8.0 as a big competitor to Apple, even though Cupertino will push back hard with the iPad mini 2.
"A well-executed Samsung tablet strategy could double the company's market share this year," added Orr.
Still, Samsung alone might not be enough for Android devices in general to outpace the iPad. Orr said that the lack of innovation in Android tablets means that unless other companies join Samsung in improving their devices, it might be hard to displace Apple.