Report: Tablet PCs To Cannibalize Netbook Sales

Personal computer sales overall will grow 52 percent by 2015, the report predicts, with consumers in the U.S. purchasing nearly half a billion desktop, notebook/laptop, tablet and netbook PCs during the next five years.

There’s been a lot of debate about whether tablets are even PCs and just what impact they will have on sales of other desktop and mobile computing devices. The Forrester report comes down on the side of those who consider tablets to, indeed, be a type of PC and concludes that netbook computers will be the big loser to tablet PC sales.

Tablet PC sales will increase from 3.5 million units this year to 20.4 million units in 2015 – a compound annual growth rate of 42 percent, the report predicts. In 2015 tablet sales will make up 23 percent of all PC unit sales.

Starting in 2012 tablets will outsell netbooks and by 2014 more consumers will be using tablets than netbooks, according to the report, with the latter accounting for only 17 percent of the total PC market.

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“Tablet growth will come at the expense of netbooks, which have a similar grab-and-go media consumption and Web browsing-use case as tablets but don’t synchronize data across services like the iPad does,” said Forrester analyst Sarah Rotman Epps in a statement.

Epps notes that consumers didn’t demand tablet computers and, in fact, Forrester data indicates the top features consumers want in a PC are a mismatch with the iPad. The fact the new Apple device is succeeding shows the success of Apple's marketing.

Sales of desktop PCs will decline during the next five years, from 18.7 million units this year to 15.7 million units in 2015, accounting for 18 percent of the total market. But Forrester said desktops would continue to play an important role in process-heavy applications such as gaming and watching and editing video.

Notebook/laptop computers will continue to be the biggest-selling category of PCs, making up 42 percent of the total unit market by 2015, Forrester said.