If Old MacDonald really did own a farm, there would be a tap-tap here, a tap-tap there, here a tap, there a tap, everywhere a tap-tap, because quite frankly, you can't escape the tablet frenzy. That doesn't mean the desktop is dead by any means -- try doing high-level CAD work on an iPad, for instance -- but demand is so high for these portable devices that tablet
shipments are on pace to surpass total PC shipments (desktops and laptops) in the fourth quarter of 2013, according to International Data Corporation
That's just the beginning. While PC shipments will still end up higher for the entire year, the changing of the guard that IDC forecasts in Q4 will continue on an annual basis by the end of 2015, the firm predicts. One of the main reasons is because tablets are suddenly affordable these days.
IDC forecasts combined desktop and portable PC shipments to reach 315.3 million units by the end of 2013, versus 227.3 million tablet PC shipments. In 2017, combined desktop and portable PC shipments will grow slightly to 319.71 million units, while tablet PCs will balloon to 406.8 million shipments, IDC says.
Interestingly, as tablets get smaller and smartphones
get bigger, IDC foresees a sort of power struggle emerging between the two categories.
"The device world has seen several iterations of cannibalization impacting different categories, with the last few years focused on tablets cannibalizing PC sales," said Bob O'Donnell, Program Vice President, Clients and Displays. "Over the next 12-18 months, however, we believe the larger smartphones, commonly called 'phablets', will start to eat into the smaller-size tablet market, contributing to a slower growth rate for tablets."
There aren't a lot of phablets on the market currently, but the ones that are available seem to be selling well, like Samsung's popular Galaxy Note line.