DisplaySearch Predicts Tablet Shipments Will Surpass Notebooks This Year

Ready for a bold prediction? This is the year that tablet PC shipments outnumber notebook shipments, a trend that will continue indefinitely. That's according to the NPD DisplaySearch Quarterly Mobile PC Shipment and Forecast Report, which states that the mobile PC market is expected to increase from 367.7 million units shipped in 2012 to 762.7 million globally by 2017.

Touch-enabled form factors will drive the predicted explosive growth, particularly as tablets begin replacing notebooks as the dominant mobile PC form factor this year, NPD DisplaySearch says.

Asus MeMO Pad Smart 10

"The mobile PC industry is undergoing significant change this year," said Richard Shim, senior analyst with NPD DisplaySearch. "The rapid rise and establishment of white box tablet PCs (tablets made by small local brands, mainly in China) is putting pressure on traditional notebook PCs. These low-cost tablets are reaching further into emerging regions where notebook PC penetration rates have remained low, resulting in cannibalization by tablet PCs."

NPD DisplaySearch expects tablet PC shipments to grow by two-thirds to 256.6 million this year, and 579.4 million by 2017. Meanwhile, the research firm predicts notebook shipments will decline 10 percent over the next four years, dropping from 203.3 million in 2013 to 183.3 million in 2017. NPD DisplaySearch also downplayed the role Windows 8 will have on touch-capable laptop shipments.

"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," added Shim. "Form factors aimed at differentiation from standard clamshell notebooks will help to drive consumer adoption of touch-enabled notebook PCs, starting in the second half of 2013."

Asus VivoTab

One thing NPD DisplaySearch didn't say is how hybrid laptops factor into all of this. We're starting to see PC makers push convertible form factors that work as both a PC and a tablet, though it's unclear which category some of these systems fit into.