Global sales of tablet computers are expected to surge to 126.6 million in 2012, driven by the iPad and rivals with a smaller format, a market research firm said on Monday.
The survey by IHS iSuppli predicted a robust 56 percent annual increase in shipments for the tablet market in 2012, from 82.1 million units in 2011.
"Media tablets increasingly are becoming the biggest growth driver in the market for the small and medium display market," said IHS analyst Vinita Jakhanwal.
"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, the Nook Tablet from Barnes & Noble, and other tablet products using the Google Android operating system."
A report last month from ABI Research boosted that firm's estimate for tablet sales to over 100 million.
IHS said 59 percent of all tablets will be in the larger form where the iPad "is the uncontested leader".
Growth in this segment is forecast to rise 35 percent from 55.2 million units in 2011.
In the seven-inch segment, which Apple is expected to enter later this year, sales are expected to nearly double from 20.8 million units last year.
Among the manufacturers of the LCD displays used in tablets, South Korea's LG and Samsung dominate the market with 42 percent and 38 percent shipment market share, respectively, IHS said. Both are Apple suppliers.
Aside from supplying Apple, LG also furnishes display panels to Amazon and Barnes & Noble, while Samsung provides panels to its internal tablet division.