In four years, your laptop could be as outdated as that bulky 8-track player gathering dust in your basement.
Well, notebook computers may not become extinct by 2016, but they are expected to fall short – very short – of tablet PC sales before the end of the decade, according to a forecast report from NPD DisplaySearch.
Laptop shipments are expected to hit 393 million units by 2017, while NPD expects exponential tablet progress, 121 million shipments this year to 416 million by 2017.
Tablet growth will get a push from growing popularity in what NPD called mature markets – North America, Japan, and Western Europe, which will account for 66 percent of shipments this year, and remain in the 60 percent range through 2017.
NPD DisplaySearch senior analyst Richard Shim said that while the lines between tablet and notebook PCs are blurring, consumer preference for mobile computing devices is shifting in the direction of slimmer, sleeker tablets.
“Tablet PCs are expected to evolve in form factor and performance,” the report said, “making them a compelling alternative to notebook PCs.”
As tablet technology advances, so will the machines’ features, bringing instant-on capabilities, long battery life, and extreme portability, along with multi-core processors, stable operating systems, growing app libraries, and high-resolution displays, DisplaySearch said.
Still, laptops are expected to remain a large segment of the mobile PC market, accounting for almost 50 percent of the market by 2017.
Overall mobile PC shipments, including notebooks, mini notebooks and tablets, are expected to grow from 347 million units this year, to more than 809 million by 2017, NPD reported.
The data is in line with a similar DisplaySearch report from May.
In February, Apple chief Tim Cook reiterated that tablets will one day outsell PCs. That same month, IDC reported that the smartphone market eclipsed the PC market in terms of sales during the previous quarter for the first time.