Tablets to Top Notebook Shipments in Four Years

NPD Group is at it again. On Tuesday, the venerable research giant made a bold prediction about the future of global tablet shipments.

Led by Apple’s juggernaut iPad, tablets are going to surpass notebooks by 2016. That’s the projection by NPD Group, which adds that Apple’s iPad alone will account for more than 60 percent of all tablets shipped this year.

NPD, however, did not estimate what percentage of the tablet market Apple will control by 2016.

While notebook PC shipments are expected to increase from 208M units in 2012 to 393M units by 2017, tablet PC shipments are expected to grow from 121M units to 416M units in this period, for a compound annual growth rate of 28%. A key driver for tablet PC growth is adoption in mature markets (including North America, Japan and Western Europe), which will account for 66% of shipments in 2012 and remain in the 60% range throughout the forecast period. Tablet PC shipments into mature markets will grow from 80M units in 2012 to 254M units by 2017.

“Consumer preference for mobile computing devices is shifting from notebook to tablet PCs, particularly in mature markets,” Richard Shim, senior analyst at NPD DisplaySearch, says. “While the lines between tablet and notebook PCs are blurring, we expect mature markets to be the primary regions for tablet PC adoption. New entrants are tending to launch their initial products in mature markets. Services and infrastructure needed to create compelling new usage models are often better established in mature markets.”