The tablet market is all but established as a permanent (and dominant) player in the PC market.
According to the latest figures from IHS iSuppli, the tablet market more than doubled during the first quarter, growing 111.9 percent year-over-year to 45.2 million units shipped worldwide.
Yet, it should be noted that shipments were down by 13 percent sequentially, but that is likely due to typical dropoffs for retail after the holiday season.
IHS analysts praised smaller tablets as the fueling factor here -- notably because of dropping price tags.
For example, the average price of a touchscreen for a 7.0-inch tablet in Q1 was approximately $15.60, down 16 percent from $18.60 from the same time a year prior.
Duke Yi, senior manager for display components and materials research at IHS, elaborated further in the report:
Sales of smaller-sized tablets are rising at a rapid rate, driving shipments of capacitive touch screen displays ranking in size from 7- to 8-inches. These tablets are inexpensive, with pricing at $199, making them popular among consumers. With the level of competition increasing in both the tablet and panel markets, pricing is expected to continue to decline, boosting shipments of displays and end products in this size range.
The IHS report solidifies projections made earlier this year by market intelligence firm IDC.
More recently in May, IDC analysts predicted that tablet shipments will surpass 229.3 million units in 2013, up 58.7 percent from 144.5 million units in 2012. Tablet shipments are expected to bypass portable PCs this year and then outrun the entire PC market by 2015.
But it is the smaller tablet market in particular, according to IDC, that will do the job. Researchers from that firm forecasted that tablets with screen sizes of 8 to 11 inches will account for only 37 percent of the market in 2017, down from 73 percent in 2011.