Tablets May Outsell Laptops This Year
May 6, 2013

The Future Belongs To Tablets

Michael Harper for — Your Universe Online

NPD´s DisplaySearch has just released their latest predictions, finding tablet sales could more than double by 2017, outselling laptops six to one. The report also finds 2013 will be just the kickoff to this entire trend, marking the first year more people buy tablets than laptop PCs. All told, the Display Search study suggest tablets from Apple, Microsoft, Samsung and others will grow by 67 percent this year, totaling 256.5 million. Come 2017, tablets could reach as high as 579.4 million, as laptop shipments decrease by ten percent from 203.3 million to 183.3 million.

This report believes it´s the touch-enabled devices that will really drive sales. Although laptop shipments are expected to continually decrease, those laptops with touch capabilities are expected to grow up to 48 percent year over year. These laptops will more than likely be slimline, ultrabook PCs and MacBook Airs, each of which utilizes Intel processors. DisplaySearch also expects these ultra slim laptops to account for 80 percent of all laptop sales by 2017.

The star of these mobile devices remains the tablet, however, and this report claims tablets made by smaller companies will be responsible for driving this growth.

“The mobile PC industry is undergoing significant change this year,” said Richard Shim in a statement. Shim is a senior analyst with NPD´s DisplaySearch group.

“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.”

DisplaySearch claims White Box tablets accounted for one-third of tablet sales last year and will continue at this pace for “the next several years.”

The International Data Company (or IDC) released their quarter results for 1Q13 last week and found Microsoft´s tablet attempts have pushed them into the top five tablet manufactures list for the first time. Though their Surface offerings are helping the Redmond company compete against long time leaders Apple and Samsung, their Windows 8 operating system has not helped push laptop sales in the recent quarter. The IDC also noted this in April in a report that found laptop sales have reached their lowest point since 2006.

According to today´s DisplaySearch report, customers will begin to buy laptops again when they become cheaper and are available in different form factors, including a convertible, hybrid laptop and tablet, and even a slider model.

“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,” said Shim in his statement.

“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.”

This is only the most recent round of bad news laptops and PCs have received this year. If these research firms are correct (and there´s no reason to think they´re incorrect) PC makers have a long road ahead of them if they plan to boost sales to previous levels.

According to DisplaySearch´s latest report, the future clearly belongs to the tablets.