It's been happening for a while now, with the shift toward tablet dominance over the personal computer becoming inevitable. But the shift actually seems to be happening quicker than many believed.
While shipments of tablets are expected to grow by 53.4% this year, P.C. shipments are expected to get hit hard, declining by 8.4% overall, according to the latest numbers from Gartner. That is an increase from its previous prediction of 7.6% back in April.
P.C. shipments include three types of devices: desktops, laptops and "ultramobiles," which are lightweight computers that are basically a hybrid tablet, running a desktop operating system.
Shipments of laptops and desktops are actually going to go down 11.2% this year. In fact, it is only the projected sales of these ultramobiles that saves the space from total embarrassment. Ultramobile shipments are actually expected to double this year, going from 9.8 million last year to 18.6 million this year.
Any way you slice it, the P.C. is still dominating the tablet, with combined sales of the desktops, laptops and ultramobiles reaching 321.7 million. That is compared to 184 million for tablets. But what really matter is how the devices are trending. And that is where is gets really ugly for the personal computer.
By next year, combined P.C. shipments will decline slightly to 321.5 million, even with ultramobiles once again doubling, while laptops and desktops go all the way down to 303 million. At the same time, tablet shipments will significant close the gap with 263 million. Its easy to see tablets finally taking over in just a few short years.
The reason that ultramobile devices will see such big gains, while other devices in the same category see such a big dropoff, has to do with their adaptability and ease of use.
"Although the preference is for dedicated devices, we see the opportunity for hybrid ultramobile to marry the functionality of a PC and the form factor of the tablet. Users that have to balance work and play will find that the advantage of buying and carrying one device outweighs the compromise in the full experience that single devices can deliver," Ranjit Atwal, research director at Gartner, said in a statement.
"Users who are not limited by their disposable income will likely have a basic tablet as a companion device to their ultramobile on which most of their consumption activities will take place."
Meanwhile, mobile phones kill both tablets and P.C.s, as they will also see a moderate increase, growing by 3.7% to 1.8 billion.
Oh, and in case you were wondering how devices Google Glass or smartwatches might fit into all of this, Gartner makes it clear: people may buy them but they won't be the dominate item. Less than 1% of consumers will actually replace their mobile phones with a combination of a wearable device and a tablet by 2017.
Overall, the number of devices shipped is expected to top out at 2.32 billion this year, an increase of 45% from 2012.
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