Will tablets eventually replace laptops?

A new study suggests that almost half of all Americans believe tablets will replace laptops. But some of its other findings might surprise you.

Don Reisinger
CNET contributor Don Reisinger is a technology columnist who has covered everything from HDTVs to computers to Flowbee Haircut Systems. Besides his work with CNET, Don's work has been featured in a variety of other publications including PC World and a host of Ziff-Davis publications.
Don Reisinger
2 min read

For years, analysts have debated whether tablets will eventually replace laptops. Turns out that consumers largely believe they will--and the elderly are far more convinced of that fact than whippersnappers.

Polling company Poll Position, which surveyed 1,155 registered American voters last week, found that 46 percent of respondents believe tablets will eventually replace laptops. About 35 percent of those folks say that devices like Apple's iPad or the Amazon Kindle Fire won't replace notebooks. Nearly 20 percent of respondents had no opinion on the matter.

Although it's generally believed young people will drive the adoption of tablets, Poll Position's findings suggest that older people are more in love with their slates. Among those aged 18 to 29, nearly 49 percent expressed doubt that tablets can replace notebooks. That figure drops to just 37 percent among 30-to-44-year-olds and 30 percent for adults between the ages of 45 and 64. Only a quarter of the 65-and-over crowd doubt that tablets will reign supreme.

Men are more confident than women that tablets will replace notebooks, with 53 percent of males saying it'll happen, compared to 39 percent of females. In addition, Poll Position found that one-quarter of women have no opinion on the matter, compared to just 13 percent of men.

Research analysts, however, beg to differ.

Just last week, research firm NPD DisplaySearch reported that 72.7 million tablets hit store shelves last year. That figure was easily overshadowed by notebook shipments, which rose to 187.5 million units. More germane to this subject, NPD DisplaySearch also predicted that by 2017, tablet shipments will jump to 383.3 million, at which point they will still trail notebook shipments, which the firm expects to hit 432 million units that year.

Similarly, last year Gartner found that after a notebook owner bought a tablet, 77 percent of them used their PCs less frequently. The important takeaway, though, is that they didn't stop using their notebooks altogether.