2013 will be the first year that sees tablet shipments outpace that of notebooks, and by 2017, we will be buying six times as many slates as notebooks, market research firm NPD has claimed.
NPD's latest study suggests that tablet shipments will grow by 67 percent this year to 256.5 million, and this will continue to grow until it reaches 579.4 million in 2017. All this while notebook sales are predicted to fall by 10 percent over the same period, going from 203.3 million to 183.3 million.
But it's not all bad news for the notebook. The first glimmer is that sales of touch-enabled notebooks will explode 48 percent during 2014, going from pretty much zero in 2012 to around 100 million in 2015, and continuing to increase for the next couple of years.
Another growth area is premium ultra-slim notebooks — a segment that includes Windows-powered ultrabooks and OS X-powered MacBook Air devices — will account for around 60 percent of touch-enabled notebooks sold during 2013, and increasing to 80 percent by 2017.
"The mobile PC industry is undergoing significant change," NPD senior analyst Richard Shim told ZDNet said in a statement. "The rapid rise and establishment of white box tablet PCs is putting pressure on traditional notebook PCs, resulting in cannibalization by tablet PCs."
But what about Windows 8? Isn't that having a restorative effect on PC sales? Not according to Shim.
"Thus far, Windows 8 has had a limited impact on driving touch adoption in notebook PCs due to a lack of applications needing touch and the high cost of touch on notebook PCs."
While this might offer PC OEMs some comfort, the bottom line message is clear — the future belongs to tablets, and if you think PCs sales are bad now, things are going to get even rougher over the next few years.