Tablet shipments will surpass PC shipments before 2017, according to a new report from Gartner.
While worldwide PC shipments are expected to fall 7.6 percent this year, the overall device market -- including PCs, tablets and mobile phones -- will increase 9 percent, according to Gartner.
Lower-priced tablets and increasing capabilities of those devices are accelerating the shift from PCs to tablets, according to Carolina Milanesi, research vice president at Gartner.
"While there will be some individuals who retain both a personal PC and a tablet, especially those who use either or both for work and play, most will be satisfied with the experience they get from a tablet as their main computing device," Milanesi said in a statement. "As consumers shift their time away from their PC to tablets and smartphones, they will no longer see their PC as a device that they need to replace on a regular basis."
The shift away from PCs and toward tablets is not a temporary trend induced by a struggling economic environment, but a reflection of a long-term change in user behavior, according to Gartner.
PCs, both desktops and notebooks, shipped 341.2 million units last year and should ship 315.2 million units this year, according to Gartner. Those numbers will continue to slide, to 302.3 million next year and to 271.6 million by 2017.
By comparison, manufacturers shipped 116.1 million tablets in 2012 and expect to ship 197.2 million tablets this year, for a 70-percent increase. That number jumps to 265.7 million tablets next year and to 468 million by 2017.
"Lower prices, form factor variety, cloud update and consumers' addiction to apps will be the key drivers in the tablet market," said Ranjit Atwal, research director at Gartner, in a statement. "Growth in the tablet segment will not be limited to mature markets alone. Users in emerging markets who are looking for a companion to their mobile phone will increasingly choose a tablet as their first computing device and not a PC."
Meanwhile, smartphones continue to gain share in the overall mobile phone space. This year, of the 1.88 billion phones expected to be sold, 1 billion will be smartphones, compared to 675 million smartphones shipped in 2012.
"The trend towards smartphones and tablets will have much wider implications than hardware displacement," said Milanesi in the statement. "Software and chipset architecture are also impacted by this shift as consumers embrace apps and personal cloud."
Also, Google's Android operating system will continue to outpace its OS rivals for the next several years, according to Gartner. Android will be included in 860.9 million devices shipped this year, compared to 354.4 million Windows device and 293.4 million iOS/Mac OS devices, according to Gartner.
PUBLISHED APRIL 4, 2013