Tablets dominating tech market as consumers drop PCs

It’s the end of one era and the beginning of another: According to research from IDC, shipments of tablets are destined to surpass those of all PCs in the fourth quarter of the year. By 2015, IDC says that annual shipments of tablets are set to outpace those of all PCs on a full-year basis. Note that these figures are calculated on a unit basis and do not take sales prices into account.

A total of 227.3 million tablets should reach consumers in 2013, compared to 134.4 million desktop PCs and 180.9 million laptops. But rapid sales growth in the fourth quarter – likely driven by holiday spending – means that for the last three months of the year, tablet sales are likely to outpace traditional desktops.

By all measures, tablet sales are exploding. The expected total growth rate for tablets over the next four years is expected to be 78.9 percent. That even outpaces the projected growth rate for smart phones, which is pegged at 71.1 percent over that time period.

What’s driving this sales frenzy? A big part of the equation has to do with the increasing capabilities of tablets. What can you not get done on a tablet these days, after all? With increasingly sophisticated apps, operating system refinements, and enhanced processing power courtesy of chips like the Qualcomm Snapdragon, tablets are more and more becoming the gadget of choice for today’s progressively more mobile consumer.

On the other side of that equation, traditional PCs, including once-essential laptops, are becoming seen as irrelevant by business users who feel they no longer need to carry the extra heft with them on the road. Even schools are jettisoning the traditional sit-down computer lab for a cart full of tablets that can be taken directly to students instead of the other way around. There’s simply no part of the home or office where the tablet isn’t displacing PCs. (If you don’t believe me, check out the newest Sony Xperia Tablet Z, which is specifically designed to be used in the kitchen.)

The other big trend that’s boosting the tablet world? Dramatically falling prices. For example, the Nexus 7 tablet has seen its price drop to $229 in recent months. That price level puts tablets in the realm of “stocking stuffers,” and can only help to propel tablets into every corner of the market.

Where will growth be the largest? IDC notes that education and retail uses will make up an increasingly large segment of the tablet user base.  By 2017, IDC says that commercial shipments should double to account for 20 percent of the tablet market.  The planned integration of mobile checkout programs into Wal Marts and some grocery stores supports that assertion.

For comprehensive coverage of the Android ecosystem, visit Greenbot.com.

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