Tablet computers will outshine notebooks in global shipments this year, according to DisplaySearch, a market research and consulting firm that specializes in the display supply chain.
Worldwide tablet shipments are estimated to reach 240 million units this year, compared to 207 million notebooks, DisplaySearch said in a research report released on Wednesday.
For the first time ever, the report said, tablets will grab a global market share of over 50 percent this year, up from about 38 percent last year and 26 percent in 2011.
DisplaySearch also anticipated a hefty 64 percent annual growth for tablet shipments this year, saying that increased variety will help drive rapid growth in the sector.
“In a market that has been dominated by one major player, Apple [Inc], shifting market dynamics are creating the opportunity for a greater variety of choices, which will drive shipment growth in 2013 to 64 percent year-on-year,” the report said.
Saying that increasing global demand for tablets has opened up the market for a range of players, both large and small, the report forecast that tablets with screens of 7 inches to 8 inches will replace Apple’s 9.7-inch iPad as the dominant models.
The combined market share of these tablets could reach 45 percent, while 9.7-inch tablets like the traditional iPad will account for about 17 percent, with shipments estimated at 41 million units, the report said.
The remaining 38 percent of the market will be shared by a wide variety of sizes of tablets, ranging from 5.6 inches to 13.3 inches, the report said.
It also said that North America will remain the biggest tablet market this year, accounting for around 85 million units and a 35 percent share.
However, the report added that emerging markets will also play a big role in tablet market growth. Driven by local manufacturers, China will account for 65 million units and a 27 percent slice of global shipments, the report said.
While notebook shipments have been hurt by sluggish demand worldwide, even in emerging markets, the report said, the sector might see a recovery in the second half of the year.
Notebook vendors are expected to add more and more tablet-style features to their notebooks, such as instant-on, all-day battery life and sleeker forms, the report said, adding that the definition of a tablet compared with that of a notebook will become increasingly fuzzy this year.