Tablet PCs and "mini-notes" continue to catch on in popularity, to the extent where they will finally start eating into notebook PC shipments this year. A report published today by NPD subsidiary DisplaySearch forecasts mobile PC shipments will grow to 762.7 million units by 2017, fueled largely by touch-enabled devices.
The big winner in the coming years will be tablets, which DisplaySearch has included as a mobile PC for the purposes of its report. Tablet shipments will increase by 67 percent to some 256.5 million units this year alone, eventually reaching 579.4 million units by 2017. Notebook shipments meanwhile are expected to decline by up to 10 percent to 183.3 million units around that time, meaning tablets will have outpaced them three times over.
Helping drive adoption of tablets are "white box" manufacturers. According to NPD, these lesser-known brands already accounted for a third of the total tablet shipments last year, a share of the market they are expected to hold as they continue to produce and distribute Android-based devices in emerging markets where notebooks haven't really taken off.
NPD expects touchscreen "ultrabooks" to become increasingly prevalent in the notebook market, forecasting shipments of such devices to grow 48 percent over the coming year for starters. By 2017, these ultrabooks will account for 80 percent of all touchscreen notebooks distributed.
For all the fanfare surrounding its new Metro interface, NPD does not expect Microsoft's Windows 8 OS to be a major factor in driving touchscreen notebook growth due to a lack of OS applications supporting touch and of course, the higher cost of ultrabooks in general.