While Apple was first to the tablet market, and clearly the most dominant, it was slow to move on a popular market niche. For more than two years Apple had just one standard size for its iPad: 9.7 inches. The market was clearly impressed with that form factor, as Apple is beginning to near 100 million units sold. But there was some clamoring for some variety. Until recently, only competitors answered the call.
Both the Kindle Fire and the Nexus 7 have served consumers well. The Kindle Fire sold about 5 million units from its release in late 2011 through August, 2012, while the Nexus 7 had sold just under a million units in October. They’re no iPad, sure. But maybe they’re relatively light sales were due to a less than salacious demand for 7-inch tablets.
Apple is about to prove that wrong. While there are no official sales numbers, analyst estimates already suggest iPad Mini sales are quite strong. A recent report suggests that iPad sales will be around 23 million for the December quarter.
That includes the new, larger iPad, of course, but it’s hard to see a scenario where the iPad Mini doesn’t outsell total sales of the Kindle Fire and the Nexus 7, combined, before the year is out.
We’ve already seen indications that the iPad Mini will sell quite well. Beyond anecdotal evidence, we have the fact that most Apple Stores were sold out of the 16GB model by November 5. It’s been 11 days since then, so chances are more stores are sold out.
If one thing is for sure, it’s that Apple absolutely owns the tablet market. Smartphones it might have lost its stronghold on, but with tablets it’s still the king. Even when competitors beat it to the market by months, even a year, it still wins out.