Tablets to surpass notebook shipments in 2016 - NPD

Tablets to surpass notebook shipments in 2016 - NPD

Summary: Shipments of tablet PCs, such as Apple’s iPad, will surpass notebook shipments in 2016, according to US-based research company NPD DisplaySearch.

TOPICS: Tablets

Shipments of tablet PCs, such as Apple's iPad, will surpass notebook shipments in 2016, according to US-based research company NPD DisplaySearch.

This is not bad news for the notebook PC industry: NPD expects notebook PC shipments to grow from 208 million units in 2012 to 393 million units in 2017. However, it expects tablet PC shipments to grow from 121 million to 416 million units in the same period, with a compound annual growth rate of 28 percent. At that point, notebooks will have only 49 percent of the mobile computer market

iPad 2
Shipments of tablet PCs, such as Apple’s iPad, will surpass notebook shipments in 2016, according to US-based research company NPD DisplaySearch.
Faster growth reflects the fact that tablets represent a new market. In the developed countries, most people who want a notebook PC already have one, so this is largely a replacement market. However, most people who want a tablet don't have one, so there is a much bigger untapped market. In addition, tablets -- especially Android tablets -- are generally cheaper than notebooks, and probably have a shorter replacement cycle. (It remains to be seen what happens when the tablet market is saturated.)

NPD's Quarterly Mobile PC Shipment and Forecast Report predicts that tablet PC sales in mature markets, including North America, Japan and Western Europe, "will account for 66 percent of shipments in 2012 and remain in the 60 percent range throughout the forecast period. Tablet PC shipments into mature markets will grow from 80 million units in 2012 to 254 million units by 2017."

In a statement, NPD DisplaySearch analyst Richard Shim said: "While the lines between tablet and notebook PCs are blurring, we expect mature markets to be the primary regions for tablet PC adoption. New entrants are tending to launch their initial products in mature markets. Services and infrastructure needed to create compelling new usage models are often better established in mature markets."

As part of the "blurring", laptop PCs (usually classified as running Microsoft Windows or Apple's Mac OS X) will become much more like tablets over the next five years, as is shown by the appearance of Intel Ultrabooks and similar machines, Microsoft's Surface and other tablets running Windows 8. These are usually thinner and lighter than traditional laptops, may have touch screens, have long battery life, and resume very quickly from Sleep mode. (The ARM version of Windows 8 includes an "always on, always connected" mode intended to work like a smartphone.)

Meanwhile, tablet PCs are expected to get more powerful processors and probably more powerful applications.

NPD's bar chart, below, shows limited prospects for what it calls "Mini note PCs" and the rest of us call netbooks. However, these should retain some appeal as small, light systems with long battery lives because they sell for a fraction of the price of Ultrabooks.

bar chart displaysearch_worldwide_mobile_pc_shipment_forecast_120702

Topic: Tablets

Jack Schofield

About Jack Schofield

Jack Schofield spent the 1970s editing photography magazines before becoming editor of an early UK computer magazine, Practical Computing. In 1983, he started writing a weekly computer column for the Guardian, and joined the staff to launch the newspaper's weekly computer supplement in 1985. This section launched the Guardian’s first website and, in 2001, its first real blog. When the printed section was dropped after 25 years and a couple of reincarnations, he felt it was a time for a change....

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  • Yeah but

    With things like Surface, the difference is going to be minor between the Tablets and Laptops.
    • There is a huge difference

      Notebooks run OSs called Windows, Linux, and OS X.
      Tablets run completely different OSs that are in no way related to Notebook OSs and are called Windows RT, Android, and iOS.


      The bigger news is that there is open competition in the notebook market while there is a powerful patent troll in the tablet market trying to ensure that consumers don't have any choice. Thanks to Samsung and Microsoft though, we will have choice in the tablet market. We, as consumers, don't want a stinking monopoly, even if that goes against the wishes of the richest company in the world.
      • Why don't you shaddup

        And go bend over for Ballmer.

  • Is form factor the determining factor between what is and is not

    considered a tablet? If a device "surface" comes with a keyboard is that a tablet or laptop? After all it looks very much like an Ultrabook too me. Or is it "touch" the factor in which if you have Ultrabooks with a touch screen does that make them a tablet?

    Pagan jim
    James Quinn
    • Operating system and screen size rather than form factor

      It's the research companies (Gartner, IDC etc) that make this decision, based on how they want to track the market, which is based on the reports they sell. It's not necessarily the buyer's point of view, and it's not necessarily logical.

      Tablets have been around for a long time (since the Gridpad running MS DOS in about 1989) and the research companies have usually counted them as PCs, which are counted by operating system (DOS, Windows, Mac OS, Linux etc). There were numerous later tablets, including systems running Windows CE and Apple's Newton) that were not counted as PCs.

      At the moment, tablets run either a PC operating system or what is basically a smartphone operating system. The ones with smartphone operating systems are counted as tablets, so the distinction here is screen size (5in is a phone; 7in is a tablet). The ones that run Windows (eg Samsung, Acer, Asus etc products) are counted as PCs not as tablets, and are sometimes called "slates".

      If I was making the decision, I'd count Windows RT/ARM machines as tablets and Windows 8 tablets as PCs. It remains to be seen what Gartner and IDC will do, in the long term.

      Some research companies take a different view and count iPads as PCs. Their choice. However, at the moment, that's still the minority view.
      Jack Schofield
  • Mixing, but maybe not matching

    There is something going on here that a whole bunch of people don't understand. I will confess to being one of them. What we observe is that a company that had largely been dismissed as a minor also-ran in the computer business has somehow tapped into a vein of money -- almost all of it from consumers -- that wants something that we call a "computer" at our peril, even though it is constructed from computer-type components.

    It is in fact some new kind of computing appliance. As we see in this forecast, it doesn't seem to be replacing traditional computers at all. It's on its own growth trajectory.

    For this reason, I think we fool ourselves, or at least blind ourselves to reality, by combining these devices on the basis of what they are made of, i.e. classifying them as different kinds of "computers."

    The telling phrase in the NPD press release is, “Consumer preference for mobile computing devices is shifting from notebook to tablet PCs..." The analyst isn't saying this is happening in business. It is happening among consumers. This also points to the object being purchased being more of an appliance or even an entertainment device than any sort of tool.

    It should not surprise us if that happens, because virtually every major advance in communications technology has found its largest use in entertainment. In their day, both radio and television were hailed as ways that education would be reformed, that the public would watch government at work, and similar high-minded aims. What actually happened? Dancing with the Stars and Law-and-Order re-runs. Why should we be surprised if the largest usage of computers ultimately turns out be Facebook, Twitter,

    Several people on ZDNet have noted that for a lot of consumers, the traditional Windows PC -- whether desktop, laptop, or netbook -- is overkill and much more complicated than desired. It makes a great business machine, but a whole lot of it just gets in the way of what ordinary consumers want to do.

    It may be that Microsoft's Metro UI will tap into this same desire for a simple entertainment appliance. If so, they'll get a chunk of this new market. But if it doesn't, I don't think trying to drag consumers into the fold by coming in via the Business Machine side is going to work. I think that's exactly what people are trying to get away from when they buy an iPad.
    Robert Hahn
    • This ad brought to you by Apple

      Thanks Robert, that read just like a brochure.
      • Perhaps, but where is your well reasoned counter point?

        Pagan jim
        James Quinn
        • Robert knows what I meant

          You aren't needed here. Thanks. Bye.
          • Now did you honestly think that would work:)

            Silly boy....

            Pagan jim
            James Quinn
      • That's my line, ding dong

        The one I gave to one of your sock puppets the other day.

    • I believe your analysis should go just a bit deeper, Robert.

      Let me explain.

      What was the primary motivation that fueled the PC revolution? What drove consumers to purchase PCs and software during the late 70's, 80's and 90's?

      Or, making that a personal inquiry, what motivated me to invest in significant dollars and time on PC related hardware, software and informational material over the past several decades?

      BTW, that same primary motivation drove myself and countless worldwide consumers and business corporations to invest and participate in the PC revolution.

      Whether you admit it or not, the motivation is profit! Or, the promise (or illusion) that knowledge of and use of a PC correctly will supplement a person's income significantly - whether directly or indirectly. (IMO, that ideology still fuels the "Tablets are a toy and not useful for doing real work" beliefs of today because, as we all know, income is only earned thru work efforts and not thru leisure consumption.)

      Personally, my investment in various PC platforms over the years aided in the advancement of my career and increased my interactions among influential individuals that aided in career advancements as well. As it is, I did earn income thru my PC activities even if that income source was indirect. That is, I never produced a software or hardware product and directly marketed a product for profit. The initial investment in PC hardware and software was more than earned back thru lifelong career earnings related to those investments. I don't believe I am alone in following that scenario.

      But, even though that motivation still hasn't changed, that powerful motivation does NOT power the growth of mobile devices today.

      That motivation, equally as powerful, is a desire for information. Stated simply, a tablet (or smartphone) is purchased for one thing only. A desire or need to easily access information required by the end user.

      Those are two completely different motivations. I've noticed that those that do not understand that basic fact will often deride hardware that provides that service not realizing, of course, that they need both items for their existence. "Man does not live by bread alone". The Ying and the Yang, so to speak.

      Apple was the first to tap into this "Yang" and provide consumers with mobile devices that could easily and readily provide "just about any" information the end user or consumer needed.
      • Human motivations are always a mystery

        Whether the motivation is a quest for information, a desire to be entertained, or immersion in some sort of "social soup," we're still looking at a reason to buy a computer-like device that is different from the reason that drove the PC revolution (and in fact virtually all previous uses of computer technology except game consoles).

        I don't claim to understand this, but I have serious doubts that bringing people a work computer in the form of a tablet is going to result in cheers and success. I think Ultrabooks will succeed, and to the extent the Surface Pro is a kind of Ultrabook, I could see it succeeding. But I do not see the sort of person who buys an iPad or Galaxy Tab thinking, "Oh goody, now I can buy a tablet to do RealWork(tm)." If that's what tablet buyers were really seeking, iPad sales would have stopped when every Mac owner had one. And that obviously did not happen.
        Robert Hahn