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Tablet shipments to outshine notebook shipments in 2016

The number of tablets shipped will surpass those of notebooks in another four years, according to NPD DisplaySearch.

Shipments of the iPad and rival tablets will outshine those of notebooks in a few years.
Shipments of the iPad and rival tablets will outshine those of notebooks in a few years. Apple

The iPad and its fellow tablet brethren will take over the mobile PC market by 2016, says a new report from NPD DisplaySearch.

Starting in 2016, tablet shipments will overtake those of notebooks, followed by an even wider gap the following year.

Tablet shipments are expected to reach 416 million in 2017, up from 121 million units this year. In comparison, notebook shipments are projected to grow to 393 million in 2017, up from 208 million this year, according to the report.

Mature markets are and will be a key trigger for tablet sales. North America, Japan, and Western Europe alone will account for 66 percent of all tablet shipments this year and stay in the 60 percent range over the next five years. Shipments into mature markets will hit 254 million by 2017 up from 80 million in 2012.

Emerging and nature market tablet shipments (000s)
Emerging and nature market tablet shipments. Note: the figures are displayed in the thousands, so 50,000 is actually 50 million. NPD DisplaySearch

"Consumer preference for mobile computing devices is shifting from notebook to tablet PCs, particularly in mature markets," NPD DisplaySearch senior analyst Richard Shim said in a statement. "While the lines between tablet and notebook PCs are blurring, we expect mature markets to be the primary regions for tablet PC adoption."

Tablets have already caught on with consumers due to their instant-on access, hefty battery life, and portability. Down the road, tablets are expected to steal more thunder from notebooks by including multi-core chips, better operating systems, more apps, and higher-resolution displays.

But don't count out the traditional notebook just yet, says NPD DisplaySearch.

Notebook makers will strive to appeal to consumers by incorporating more attractive features, such as thinner models, higher-resolution screens, and touch-screen displays. Still, notebooks will continue their downward trend, accounting for 49 percent of all mobile PC shipments in 2017 compared with 60 percent this year.