2013: The year tablets finally outsell notebooks?

2013: The year tablets finally outsell notebooks?

Summary: Tablet PCs will outsell notebooks in 2013 as companies produce devices with a range of screen sizes that are proving popular across the world.


A research company is forecasting that tablet PC sales will overtake notebook sales in 2013 as tablets with smaller screens are rapidly adopted around the world.

California-based NPD DisplaySearch said in its Quarterly Mobile PC Shipment and Forecast Report that 240 million tablet PCs will be sold in 2013, compared to only 207 million notebooks.

The tablet PC market saw increasing investments in the US in the second half of 2012 as major brands tested new screen sizes and price points, said Richard Shim, senior analyst with NPD DisplaySearch. 

"In 2013, further investments are expected worldwide, stoking demand to the point that tablet PC shipments will exceed those of notebook PCs," he added.

The research firm's results also suggest that smaller tablets will replace Apple's 9.7-inch iPad as the tablet market leader in 2013.

According to the report, tablet PCs with 7 to 8-inch screens are expected to make up 45 percent (108 million units) of the market in 2013, while tablets with screens of 9.7 inches will only account for 17 percent (41 million units) of the market.

Tablets are already outselling notebooks in China and North America. In 2013, NPD DisplaySearch predicts China will have 27 percent (65 million units) of the global tablet market, but North America will remain the largest market with a 35-percent share (85 million units). 

Notebook PC shipments have slowed down due to a reduction in worldwide demand. However, new processors scheduled for the second part of 2013 are set to introduce more tablet-like PC features to notebook devices, such as instant on, 24-hour battery life and new physical appearances.

However, the rise of the tablet is could have a detrimental impact on global IT spend. Gartner claimed last week that $40bn had been sucked out of the global IT device market as tablets become increasingly popular.

Topics: Tablets, Hardware, Laptops, Mobility

Sam Shead

About Sam Shead

Sam is generally at his happiest with a new piece of technology in his hands or nailing down an exclusive story. In the past he's written for The Engineer and the Daily Mail. These days, Sam is particularly interested in emerging technology, datacentres, cloud, storage and web start-ups.

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  • Operating Systems on tablets

    Good to know, that on tablets there is a healthy market for operating systems and no harmfull M$ monopoly !
    • Illogical rant...

      It tablets become the dominant form-factor, that does not mean that MS's OSes will also be displaced.

      In fact, it could mean that, the dominant OS in tablets could become Windows 8 or Windows RT, since people are constantly looking to do more with their devices, even as they get smaller. When looking to do more with their devices, people will have to start looking at the OS that has the most capability for their devices, and neither Android nor iOS are as powerful as a Windows OS that can run on tablets.
      • Sure, but...

        Sure, but Microsoft has demonstrated an inability to compete in the mobile space.
        Windows Mobile 6.5 was so bad, marketshare dropped to about 6% and Microsoft made a grand event out of their dumping WM6.5 to launch Windows Phone 7 - and... then... didn't... make... it... competitive. Not even copy/paste until a later update. Limited to single-core devices. And if you were an early adopter and bought one of these devices, you feel burned because guess what? Your device won't ever get updated to WP8. And sorry, hope you didn't want a tablet to compliment that phone experience. And hope you still don't want one - even if you get a WP8 device, that's not really the same as a Win8 tablet... which is what people expect.

        As a result, Windows mobile marketshare has not increased - it's dropped again. And by that I mean halved. 3% is not good.
        And as a result, developers aren't even bothering.
        That's a problem, and it's a symptom as well - of failing to understand the mobile space.

        I'm not going to be convinced that suddenly people are going to want Win8 tablets. Not for the price, and not for how deviant they are from where the mobile paradigm has shifted to - Microsoft has been moving in the direction of "Windows on everything!" which it's failed to sell for the past 10 years plus, I don't see how year 11 of trying to peddle "Windows on a tablet" is going to be different this time - especially as our expectations for a tablet have shifted very much towards mobile operating systems that we expect to share an experience with our little tablets - you know, our phones.
        • Going back to ancient history is no way to prove a point...

          and by using WinMob 6.5 to compare to the current OS, is not logical; not in the least.

          Those are two completely different animals, and WP8 and WinRT are nowhere close to what the Windows mobile OS of 10 years was. It's like comparing Windows 95 to Windows 8, where only the names have some similarity, but the power and the features are almost completely unrecognizable.

          Nice try though. Sometimes, people have to do desperate things in order not to sound foolish. But, you failed by going back to ancient history. Nobody in his right mind will ever claim that, because WinMobile of 10 years ago didn't take off, that it's going to be the same with a new version. Just because it comes from Microsoft and has the Windows tag on it, doesn't automatically make it a failure. However, back when Windows Mobiel 6.5 was in use, most people didn't have iOS nor Android to compare it to, which is exactly what you're doing.

          When comparing products, try to stay with the same era for the different products. Back when WinMo 6.5 was in use, Apple was a total failure in the mobile market. Is that a fair comparison? No? Then, try to stay current in your comparisons. Otherwise, you're just reaching for desperate comparisons which don't make sense.
          • Actually, geolemon's assesment is right on spot.

            "Nice try though. Sometimes, people have to do desperate things in order not to sound foolish."

            That would be you desperately trying not to sound foolish. (It didn't work.) Follow the Wil Weaton rule, "Don't be a dick." Being smarmy doesn't make you right. (Although thinking you are right makes you smarmy. Please do something about that. By something, I mean STOP IT!)

            " But, you failed by going back to ancient history. Nobody in his right mind will ever claim that, because WinMobile of 10 years ago didn't take off, that it's going to be the same with a new version."

            Actually, while his assessment started with Win Mobile, he carried right through to the present, so his point is valid, and validly made, while your reply isn't.

            " Just because it comes from Microsoft and has the Windows tag on it, doesn't automatically make it a failure."

            No, Microsoft manages to accomplish each failure on it's own merits. Not all M$ products are failures, but they have had more than their share in the last decade. A smaller company would have folded under the weight of that many failures, but M$ has enough backing to throw at the losers as well as the winners.

            "However, back when Windows Mobiel 6.5 was in use, most people didn't have iOS nor Android to compare it to"

            No, but we had Palm and ...(wait for it,) ... WINDOWS to compare to it. Windows mobile sucked. I had 3 executives in my job that I had to configure that crap for. 2 of the 3 were so disappointed, they stopped trying to use them after a couple of weeks, and the third only used his to play games on. It was a total failure from what I observed. BTW: The couple of dozen Palm and Clie' users were still actively using their Palms and Clie's just a year or two ago.

            "Going back to ancient history is no way to prove a point..."

            No way? It is the best way! Those that forget history are destined to repeat it.

            " Back when WinMo 6.5 was in use, Apple was a total failure in the mobile market. Is that a fair comparison?"

            Yes, because Jobs came back to Apple, admitted it sucked and killed the Newton. Then he didn't say a peep about it again until the iPhone came out. The difference between the iPhone and WP7 is that the iPhone took off and has been a runaway success in all of its iterations. WP7 was several years after iOS, and (in spite of some strong praise from a few vocal users,) still bombed! Every time M$ comes out with a new mobile version, they say, "This one is the greatest!", and it sucks as hard as the last one. It really is getting old. (And so is arguing with you.)
      • Re: that does not mean that MS's OSes will also be displaced.

        Except that's what's happening, and Microsoft shows no signs of being able to adapt to the swiftly-changing market to forestall this.
      • It's not all or nothing for MS

        I agree with adornoe for the most part. Many people want both capabilities such as portability and touchscreen etc. as a tablet gives. However, if we could wirelessly or virtually connect the tablet to a Laptop or desktop for full processing as well, this would be a big advantage. If MS Win 8 Tablet and MS win 8 pro allow full integration between devices they have an advantage. I am not a big MS fan but I am a realist.
    • MS has become userped by Apple

      There may be no MS monopoly, but all of Apple's practices are far worse.

      Microsoft may have had over 90% of the PC world at one point -but:
      Apple has a proprietary ecosystem - which itself is a monopoly. Within that ecosystem, Apple has mandated 30% of any transaction that occurs within it's ecosystem - from any entity, any sale, any app, any transaction. 30% tariff - AND sellers aren't allowed to raise prices inside their Apple apps - has to be the same price inside and outside of an iDevice.

      Microsoft may have slightly been playing dirty pool trying to win the browser wars, but:
      Apple has not-subtly declared "thermonuclear war" on Android, and has purchased arsenals of patents in an attempt to sue everyone and their licensee rather than improving what is now a stagnant product to remain competitive - the theory being that slowing progression maximizes profit more than innovation and obsoletion.

      Microsoft may have been a mighty American empire in the 90's, but:
      Apple has made billions of dollars (over $100B - cash, in the bank, in an absolute sense), by masquerading as an American company, but manufacturing in China. It's designed and sold products under the guise of high-end, with high-end finishes and materials, but skimping on internal components and features (generally "last year's hot specs", at best) to maximize volume, and cost savings, while charging top-of-range premiums (Google: Apple Tax) that maximize obsoletion as a smooth-running device turns laggy and inferior after the first OS update.
      And where Microsoft has expanded and hires hundreds of thousands in the USA, Apple doesn't just fail on manufacturing, but on jobs - they've recently opened a data center in the USA, and has staffed it entirely with temporary workers (save for the management tier), to avoid paying salaries and benefits.

      All this while billions more come out of the US economy to pile in Apple's bank account after being routed through China.
      I'll take Microsoft's monopoly, thanks.
    • Glad to see you predicted this...

      pretty much states that nothing will change. Windows 8 works very well on a tablet and the fact that new hybrids are coming out...well that pretty much says a lot. Thanks for playing.
  • 2013: The year tablets finally outsell notebooks?

    That's not much of a comparison considering notebooks cost 2 to 3 times the price of a tablet as well as do 2 to 3 times more than a tablet. 2013 will be the year tablet sales taper off, 2014 they go into a decline.
    • stop

      can you guys stop with the 'notebooks do so much more than tablets'. The specific attraction to tablets is doing less and doing less so well. Hence the immediate, massive success of the iPad, even at high prices, after years of little interest in microsoft tablet PCs.
      However I agree that tablet sales (as in those that threaten traditional computers). But, windows will not be the beneficiary of that decline. I'm sure you are hoping for the reemergence of the windows monopoly for some reason.
      • There is no attraction to tablets

        There is no attraction to tablets except to have one just to have one. They work in very few situations but not so well for the consumer.
        • Wrong

          Simple as that. They may not work for you but they do for a very large number of people traditionally using a desktop or laptop. I can say for a fact that since getting a tablet, the laptop rarely comes out of the bag at home when previously it was out by default. I can also say for a fact that I know of one older couple that haven't turned on their pc since getting a tablet a few months back. They have no need to. They have no need for the bulk and inconvenience of a desktop when the tablet can do everything they want it to.
          So while these usage situations are not the same for everyone, your inability to admit your case is not universal is what's driving your out of date thinking. For a couple that needs internet,email and skype (no games, no office), please explain the reasons why they should use either a desktop or a laptop?
          Little Old Man
          • Easy to explain

            Because eventually they will need games, office, or some other application to run.
        • What a misguided opinion.

          That is your opinion, and you are entitled to it, but it isn't right.

          A tablet is attractive to me because:

          It is lighter than even the lightest laptop. Win!

          It is on instantly. Win!

          I can hold it in one hand instead of balancing it on my knees. Win!

          I don't have to maintain ventilation under it while I use it, unlike a laptop. My tablet doesn't overheat or even need a fan or vents. Win!

          I don't like to use a full laptop on the sofa or in bed, but I love using a tablet in those places. It is also easier to use in a vehicle, or a waiting room, or anyplace else I have a couple of minutes to spare. I cannot do that with a laptop. Win!

          My laptop fits in my pants pocket, (Mine is a phablet, a Samsung Note,) but even a 7" tablet fits in a coat pocket easily. A laptop requires a bag, or at the very least, one of those custom covers. The tablet is complete. Win!

          In fact, as a consumer, my tablet works very well in many situations I could never conveniently use a laptop. The only thing I need a full keyboard for is... arguing with you. (And I could do that on my tablet, but, when someone is wrong on the internet, a full keyboard is much better for showing them the error of their ways!)

          In fact, my note has replaced my old phone, my palm pilot (for PDA and games,) my laptop, my TV, (Yes, I watch internet TV on it, usually in bed, and don't have to balance it on my knees,) and my PC for many casual uses.

          I don't buy anything except to just have one. I only buy what I need or really want badly. I use my tablet constantly. I am intrigued by the form factor of the surface, but I don't think I would use it as much or as easily as I do the tablet. I still have a laptop for work travel. I won't buy a surface because it would be just to have it.
      • Doing less, and doing it well? What nonsense!!!

        So, people want tablets for the purposes of doing less with them?

        People want tablets because they are highly mobile and can do most of what people use computers for, which is social media and e-mail and viewing of movies and images. If that's what you mean by doing less, then you're right.

        However, people will follow the same path they did when computers first became affordable and abundant and very capable. People will migrate their tastes to the more capable of the tablets as time goes on and they become more and more powerful and can do more of what notebooks and desktops can do. When the more capable tablets become available and affordable, people will move away from the crippled versions.

        Right now, you hear people complaining about devices that don't offer larger storage and more connectivity options, such as USB ports. IOW, people want more powerful tablets, which is another way of saying that, they'ld like to have notebook capabilities in their tablets. People want 500 GB storage, and 8 GB main memory and very powerful processors and as many ports as can be built into those tablets, and they also want more powerful OSes; that's why Android and iOS continue to be upgraded to do more. They also want long battery lives in those devices. That will happen, and the idea of "less" will be gone forever. The only part of "less" that will remain, is the lower weight and the lower size. But, the tablets will have become PCs or notebooks, in smaller packages.
        • You're confusing

          the techies and the rest.
          How many home-users bought TOTR PC's? I bet it wasn't as many as you suggest in your comments. How many home-users maxed out the HDD and RAM? Not as many as you like to suggest. High-end PC systems have always been a niche market, most consumers are happy to go middle of the road providing it can do what they need it to. It's not much different to tablets of today. What more does the average home-user need from a tablet? With the ever increasing app-count, there is less reliance on hardware for the solution.
          Little Old Man
          • What I'm talking about, is the practical,

            which means that, when people start looking for tablets that can do more, they'll start looking for tablets which, basically, have come up to the capabilities of a laptop, with a lot more storage, and more ports, and more main memory, and much better processors than what is being sold to them right now with the "multi-core ARM" processors.

            The storage which a lot of manufacturers are providing, or that the service providers are allowing, is minimal, and nowhere close to what a laptop offers. Once those mobile devices move up in capabilities, the storage requirements will also increase, and so will the required support for other equipment, such as external storage or larger screens. Cloud storage is very limited, and once people decide that, clouds are limited and not as capable as "local" storage, then the manufacturers will respond with "more" of everything that already exists in laptops.

            Necessarily, tablets will have to grow up to become notebooks/laptops, only in smaller sizes.
  • legions and camps

    Not sure about that idea of 7" outselling 10".... 10" iPads still outsell all other tablets by a healthy margin and it stills seems to be Apple's ballgame for another year until Win8 gets it's S*** together. We are all in a few separate camps - those who want a tablet for "work" and need to run special software or data (likely Windows), the in-betweeners (techy enough to make the best of Android), and those who just want to web-surf, play a couple games, ebook and email. The later camp are legion - minimal tech knowledge and low spec criteria, easily swayed by marketing hype. Apple is a master at putting their products front and center in stores and creating "buzz" at their market events over trivial things - "now in white!!!" People flock to Apple kiosks in stores and ignore the "other" tablets 20' away.
    • India, China, Afrika etc

      Ipad got a really low market share in large parts of the world. Chineese and Indians will mostly buy cheap and small tablets running android.