By 4 July 2012 | Categories: news


According to a new report from market research company NPD DisplaySearch, tablets are expected to surpass notebook shipments in 2016, while claiming the distinction of being the growth driver for the mobile PC market in the interim years.  
This is according to the recent NPD DisplaySearch Quarterly Mobile PC Shipment and Forecast Report, which elaborated that overall mobile PC shipments will grow from 347 million units in 2012 to more than 809 million units by 2017.
That’s not to say that there is no growth on the horizon for notebooks though. The report cites that notebook PC shipments are expected to increase from 208 million units in 2012 to 393 million units by 2017.
However, this is still far less than the anticipation of tablet growth, with tablet PC shipments being expected to increase from 121 million units to 416 million units in the same period, which amounts to a substantial annual growth rate of 28%.
NPD DisplaySearch's worlwide mobile PC shipment forecast clearly shows tablets'
predicted dominance in the years ahead.
Key drivers and mature markets
The company explained that a key factor behind this growth is the adoption of tablet PCs in mature markets, such as the US, Japan and Western Europe; with shipments into these markets forecasted to grow from 80 million units in 2012 to 254 million units by 2017.
“Consumer preference for mobile computing devices is shifting from notebook to tablet PCs, particularly in mature markets,” asserted Richard Shim, senior analyst at NPD DisplaySearch.
According to NPD DisplaySearch, tablet PCs are further expected to build upon convenience-oriented features such as instant-on capability, long battery life and extreme portability, by evolving in form factor and performance, which would make them “a compelling alternative to notebook PCs”.
Tablet PCs will likely incorporate multi-core processors, increasingly stable operating systems, growing app libraries and higher resolution displays.
Already, to an extent we are seeing that progression, with Microsoft recently unveiling its Surface for Windows 8 Pro tablet, which will run on a full scaled OS in a 10.6” form, while the new iPad won its acclaim by boasting a high resolution Retina display.
Symbiotic impact
However, tablet evolution will not happen in a vacuum. Rather, it will impact on notebook PCs as well. NPD DisplaySearch continued that notebook PCs were also evolving to meet the challenge from tablet PCs, as thinner form factors, higher resolution displays and touch functionality features were expected to increase.
While it was not mentioned in the report, already we have noticed that weight has become a primary concern, particularly amongst ultrabooks, with manufacturers seemingly perpetually aiming to produce devices that weigh less and thus can compete a bit more favourably with tablet counterparts.
While the company expects the notebook PC market to remain the largest part of the mobile PC market during the forecast period, accounting for 60% of mobile PC shipments in 2012, it also foresees this declining to 49% by 2017.
To the point
In short, if the marketing research company’s predictions are on course, notebook PCs will probably fight it out with tablet PCs in the years ahead for market share, while tablet PCs, for their part, may well become increasingly powerful at an almost frightening rate.

This should result in some very interesting features and technology on tablets and notebooks alike, as each try to wrestle user interest away from the other. The most interesting fallout though, will be on the price front, as that is the one immutable constraint with regards to securing market share that both devices are subject to.   


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