(CNET) - A smaller iPad is undergoing tests, a market researcher says, adding fuel to rumors about a downsized Apple tablet.
"Smaller iPads...are still in the testing stage; whether or not these prototypes will enter mass production remains unknown," TrendForce, a Taipei-based market research and consulting firm, said today.
The impact of a small iPad would be felt mostly in 2013, TrendForce said. "If production ensues, the release time will possibly be in 4Q12, right before Christmas. With a smaller size and a resolution of 1024x768, as opposed to iPad 3's 2048x1536, the small iPad will not hurt iPad 3's sales in 2012 and will have a bigger impact in 2013," according to TrendForce.
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If a so-called iPad-Mini materializes, analysts expect it to have a 7.85-inch display compared with the iPad 2's 9.7-inch screen.
TrendForce also offered its forecast for the 2012 tablet market, which is expected to grow 53 percent over 2011 to 94.4 million units. Apple will control the lion's share of the market due to its technological lead. "Apple's high tablet market share can be attributed to its tablet competitors failing to catch up with the iPad's advancements," TrendForce said.
And the iPad 3 will only solidify this trend. "The iPad 3 will further secure [Apple's] leading status," TrendForce said. "The only concern is that iPad 3's high resolution panel comes with a low yield rate; whether or not the panel production will be enough to supply the market demand remains to be seen."
This article first appeared at CNET under the headline "Smaller iPad in 'testing stage,' says research firm."