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Tablet shipments to outshine notebooks this year, says report

Global tablet shipments will surpass notebooks by around 33 million units in 2013, NPD DisplaySearch predicts.

NPD DisplaySearch

Tablets will edge out notebooks in global shipments this year, according to a report out yesterday from NPD DisplaySearch.

Tablet shipments are expected to surpass 240 million, while notebooks shipments will reach around 207 million. For the first time ever, tablets will grab more than 50 percent of the annual market share this year, up from around 38 percent last year and 26 percent in 2011.

Growth in tablet shipments will rise 64 percent this year from 2012, driven not necessarily by the iPad but by the variety of choices, the report said. Demand for tablets around the world has opened up the market for a range of players, both large and small.

Tablets with 7 inch through 7.9 inch screens will grab 45 percent of the market this year, accounting for shipments of 108 million units, NPD DisplaySearch said. In contrast, 9.7-inch tablets like the traditional iPad will eke out a share of 17 percent, with shipments of around 41 million. The other 38 percent is made up of the wide variety of sizes, ranging from 5.6 inches to 13.3 inches.

"The tablet PC market saw increasing investments in North America in the second half of 2012, from major brands that tested not only new screen sizes and price points, but also unconventional business models to support their efforts," NPD DisplaySearch analyst Richard Shim said in a statement. "In 2013, further investments are expected worldwide, stoking demand to the point that tablet PC shipments will exceed those of notebook PCs."

North America will remain the biggest tablet customer, grabbing around 85 million units and a 35 percent share this year. But emerging markets will also play a huge role in tablet adoption.

Driven by local manufacturers, China will account for 65 million units and a 27 percent slice of the market. Last year, tablet shipments in both North America and China had already surpassed those of notebooks.

Shipments of notebooks have been hurt by sluggish demand worldwide, even in emerging markets, the report noted. But the notebook industry may recover some of that demand in the second half of the year. Manufacturers are expected to increasingly add more tablet features to their notebooks, such as instant-on, all-day battery life, and sleeker form factors.

Of course, the definition of a tablet versus that of a notebook is getting fuzzier.

More manufacturers are releasing hybrid devices that double as tablet and laptop. Consumers who want the best of both worlds will find a greater array of choices. That evolution may make it more difficult to decipher market share but should benefit the industry overall.