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Tablet shipments forecasted to outpace PCs by 2015

As more people turn to mobile, IDC predicts that for the first time tablet shipments will top PC shipments in the fourth quarter of 2013 and will continue to excel in the coming years.

With newer and cheaper models coming out, tablet shipments are expected to soon outpace PC shipments.
Sarah Tew/CNET

As a slew of new tablets were announced over the last few days, data shows that tablet shipments will soon surpass those of personal computers.

A report by research firm IDC predicts that for the first time more tablets will be shipped in the fourth quarter of 2013 than PC shipments; and, by 2015, annual tablet shipments will top PC shipments.

"The device world has seen several iterations of cannibalization impacting different categories, with the last few years focused on tablets cannibalizing PC sales," IDC clients and displays program vice president Bob O'Donnell said in a statement.

By the numbers, tablet shipments are expected to reach 84.1 million units in the fourth quarter, while PC shipments will be 83.1 million. PC shipments are looking to drop by 10 percent for all of 2013.

IDC says that while people will continue to buy top-of-the-line tablets, cheaper models will overpower the market in the near future.

"At a time when the smartphone and tablet markets are showing early signs of saturation, the emergence of lower-priced devices will be a game-changer," IDC research analyst Megha Saini said. "Introducing new handsets and tablet devices at cheaper price points along with special initiatives like trade-in programs from Apple and BestBuy will accelerate the upgrade cycle and expand the total addressable market overnight."

Tablets have recently come a long way -- many now have speedy processors, razor-sharp HD screens, and heaps of apps. Competition in the tablet market has also become fiercely saturated with a whole host of new devices, from simple machines without a lot of bells and whistles to fancy hybrids toting tons of features.

While tablet shipments are on the rise, smartphones will continue to rule the market over the next few years. By 2015, IDC predicts 1.4 billion smartphones will be shipped, which will equal 69 percent of all smart connected device shipments worldwide.

Smart connected device market by product category, unit shipments and market share, 2013 and 2017 (shipments in millions). IDC