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Tablets expected to become preferred computing device

Forrester Research expects sales to hit 375 million by 2016, with 760 million in use by that year.

Forrester Research

Tablets are quickly becoming the consumer device of choice, threatening to disrupt the PC market, according to a new report.

Sales of tablets are expected to hit 375 million by 2016, representing a compound annual growth rate of 46 percent, according to a report from market researcher Forrester Research. Additionally, the market researcher predicts that there will be 760 million tablets in use by 2016.

"Over the next four years, tablets will gain new sensors, processing power, and better wireless capabilities for connecting with nearby devices," Frank Gillette, principal analyst on Forrester's business technology futures team, wrote in the report. "This will enable full voice control and dictation, increased gesture control, more situational context, better accessory integration, and software that anticipates a user's needs."

Apple's iPad, which essentially created the market two years ago, will represent one-third of tablet sales by 2016, Forrester predicted. Meanwhile, Google's Android mobile operating system is expected to decline in market share due to a fragmented ecosystem that doesn't grant equal access to apps and due to the launch of Microsoft's Windows 8, which is geared to work on both tablets and traditional PCs.

"We believe that many original equipment manufacturers will shift focus from Android devices to Windows 8 tablets but that Samsung and a variety of low-priced white label tablets will stay the course and find a role in serving primarily growth markets with budget devices," Gillette wrote in the report.

Forrester also predicts that a new class of peripheral with a larger display and greater processing power it calls "frames" will emerge "for larger-scale applications, small group interactions, and presentations."