Apple has chosen the perfect time to debut its mini-pad on the market. According to a new IHS report, the demand for smaller 7-inch screen models is rapidly growing.

The demand for tablets in general has gone up 56% in less than a year. The projected shipments of large tablets alone this year are above 125 million, up from last year’s 82 million. The largest shippers, for the moment, are LG and Samsung – but only because these two makers are the ones that make the liquid crystal displays for the iPad. LG also makes the display screens for Kindles and Nooks, and Samsung uses its own materials on its own tablets as well.

Some 60% of tablets shipped this year will be those with 9-inch screens, says IHS, but that’s primarily because the 7-inch screens aren’t being introduced until the holiday season. The losers this year are tablets that aren’t either 9-inch or 7-inch, but are instead the 5-inch and 8-inch tablets. These two tablet types combined account for less than 10% of the market.

The 7-inch screen tablet market is expected to explode because of the cheaper prices of the smaller models. IHS believes that consumers will see a cheaper price tag but not a lack of quality, and thus will tend to buy smaller-screened devices. The release of the 7-inch iPad mini is rumored to be later this year, and the announcement is expected as early as the end of this month.

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