WASHINGTON, January 9 (RIA Novosti) Tablet computers did not even exist three years ago. But according to a new report, this year the tablet market is slated to overtake its chief competitor, the laptop computer, in global shipments.
“Tablet PC shipments are expected to reach more than 240 million units worldwide in 2013, easily exceeding the 207 million notebook PCs that are projected to ship,” said the report, released this week by the California-based market research firm NPD DisplaySearch.
Since the release of the iPad in 2010, Apple has dominated the tablet market, but the research firm predicts this year’s sales will be fueled by competition.
And with the introduction of the iPad mini and its competitors, equipped with a smaller screen and a lower price point, analysts said from a demand perspective, the new smaller tablets appeal to a wider segment of the mainstream market.
“… in 2013 a new class of small tablets will take over the market,” the NPD report said.
According to the report, tablets with a 7 to 8 inch (178 mm to 203 mm) screen size are expected to account for 45 percent or 108 million units of the market in 2013, overtaking the 9.7 inch (246.3 mm) size which will account for just a 17 percent share or about 41 million units.
Previously the research firm predicted tablet shipments would outpace notebook shipments in 2016. The firm revised its expectations due in part to the declining worldwide demand of laptops, the report said.
And while shipments of notebooks have been hurt by sluggish demand worldwide, laptop manufacturers are fighting to stay viable.
“Of course, the definition of a tablet versus that of a notebook is getting fuzzier,” noted Lance Whitney a tech reporter for CNET.com in a recent report. “More manufacturers are releasing hybrid devices that double as tablet and laptop. Consumers who want the best of both worlds will find a greater array of choices,” he said.
According to the NPD report, tablet sales have already overtaken notebooks in both North America and China.