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Tablets, touch-screen laptops to energize the PC market

Mobile PC shipments are expected to hit 762 million by 2017, thanks to demand for tablets and touch-screen notebooks, according to NPD DisplaySearch.

Lance Whitney Contributing Writer
Lance Whitney is a freelance technology writer and trainer and a former IT professional. He's written for Time, CNET, PCMag, and several other publications. He's the author of two tech books--one on Windows and another on LinkedIn.
Lance Whitney
2 min read


Tablets and touch-screen notebooks will give a helping hand to the PC industry in the coming years, according to NPD DisplaySearch.

Shipments of mobile PCs are forecast to reach 762.7 million globally by 2017, up from 367.6 million last year, according to an NPD report released Monday. Most of that growth will come about as tablets replace traditional notebooks as the dominant device and as touch screens wend their way to more notebooks.

For the purposes of its report, NPD DisplaySearch classifies a tablet as another type of PC rather than as a separate, unrelated device.

"The mobile PC industry is undergoing significant change this year," NPD DisplaySearch analyst Richard Shim said in a statement. "The rapid rise and establishment of white box tablet PCs (tablets made by small local brands, mainly in China) is putting pressure on traditional notebook PCs. These low-cost tablets are reaching further into emerging regions where notebook PC penetration rates have remained low, resulting in cannibalization by tablet PCs."

Tablet shipments are projected to hit 579.4 million by 2017, up from 256.5 million this year -- a 126 percent increase. By contrast, notebook shipments are likely to drop to 183.3 million in 2017 from 203.3 million in 2013 -- a 10 percent decline. However, shipments of touch-screen notebooks will surge by 48 percent from this year to next year.

Touch screens among notebooks will be found mainly in ultraslim notebooks, otherwise known as ultrabooks, according to the report. Ultrabooks now account for around 66 percent of all touch-enabled notebooks. But that number will shoot up to 80 percent by 2017. Intel, for example, has stated that any ultrabook powered by its new Haswell processor must include a touch screen.

Microsoft has geared Windows 8 toward touch-screen devices as well as traditional PCs. But the latest version of Windows won't play a big role in convincing consumers to go touch screen, says NPD DisplaySearch. Rather, touch-screen demand will be driven by lower price tags and different types of devices, including hybrids, convertibles, and sliders.

"Thus far, Windows 8 has had a limited impact on driving touch adoption in notebook PCs, due to a lack of applications needing touch and the high cost of touch on notebook PCs," Shim said. "Form factors aimed at differentiation from standard clamshell notebooks will help to drive consumer adoption of touch-enabled notebook PCs, starting in the second half of 2013."

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