The 7.9-inch iPad Mini, specifically the edition priced at $US249, will set the pace for global tablet competition in the quarters ahead, a new report said.
Research firm DisplaySearch is predicting the path of the device that Apple has created in 2010 - it will explode further but the growth trajectory will be credited to the iPad Mini, which the tech giant has only introduced in late 2012.
The assessment was based on the worldwide LCD tablet PC panel shipments in March, which the same report said totalled 27 million units, 48 per cent of which consists of 7-inch tablets - the same class that the Mini belongs to.
In December 2012, the same iPad Mini-led tablet bracket accounted for only 33 per cent, indicating that the group is gradually creeping into the present leadership of the 10-inch tablet class, which is the turf of the original 9.7-inch iPad.
The projection is actually in line with the current trend - than of consumers favouring the more compact tablet profile. Apple has in fact confirmed in January this year that the Mini is outpacing the bigger iPad in sales performance.
According to Apple big boss Tim Cook, the iPad Mini closed down its one-quarter performance in 2012 with more than 20 million unit sales. That was about two quarters ago and the figures, which might have slowed down a bit, should be higher.
All these indicators point to one thing, according to analysts, that general interest on big tablets like the iPad, the Nexus 10 and Samsung's Galaxy Note 10.1 is waning in an accelerated manner.
They also explained the recent reports that Apple is slowly shifting its focus away from building high-end gadgets and rechanneling its efforts and resources to mass-market devices, hence the rumoured development not only of the cheaper iPad Mini but also of the low-cost iPhone editions.
New reports pointed to a likely $US99 retail price for the budget iOS smartphone, also referred to in numerous reports as the iPhone Mini.
But the regular iPad and iPhones will not go away, experts said. Apple will rework them in order to sex up their appeal. The iPad 5, for one, will sport a more compact look that is unabashedly borrowed from the iPad Mini.
The iPhone, on the other hand, will likely embrace the phablet rage and will come out in editions with 4.7-inch and 5.7-inch screens, per reports by Reuters last week.
As for the iPad Mini, it will be the wave of the future, analysts said, establishing its lead by luring tablet users with two upcoming versions - the cheaper build that will debut on Q4 2013 and the iPad Mini 2 with Retina, which is set for a possible January 2014 release date.