Research firm Canalys predicts that tablets will account for 50 percent of the PC market next year.
In its latest report, the bean counters believe that tablets will almost out-ship all other PC form factors combined, including desktops and laptops. The firm says that tablet shipments will reach a total of 285 million units in 2014, growing to 396 million in 2017.
In the third quarter of this year tablets made up 40 percent of PC shipments, only half a million units behind notebook laptops. Despite the decline of PC and laptop shipments, the worldwide PC market grew 18 percent during the quarter—thanks to the inclusion of tablets.
Canalys touts that Android will be the main driver of growth in tablets, accounting for 65 percent of the market next year. Samsung will likely be leading the pack, as it does in the smartphone sector, with a share of 27 percent in the third quarter of 2013. Apple will continue to be the main competitor outside of the Android race.
"Apple's decline in PC market share is unavoidable when considering its business model. Samsung narrowly took the lead in EMEA this quarter and Apple will lose its position to competitors in more markets in the future," said Senior Analyst Tim Coulling. "However, Apple is one of the few companies making money from the tablet boom. Premium products attract high value consumers; for Apple, remaining highly profitable and driving revenue from its entire ecosystem is of greater importance than market share statistics."
However, Canalys said that while Samsung and Apple will remain strong in the medium-term, there could be "challenges" as competition hots up. The firm is pointing out the potential rise of small-to-micro brand vendors in established and high-growth markets and international players such as Acer, Asus, Lenovo, and Hewlett-Packard.
Budget-priced tablets are tempting many consumers with even supermarkets and retailers like Tesco and Argos coming out with own-brand devices.
"With the cost and time-to-market advantages afforded by their Chinese supply chain, these small- to micro-brand vendors are eating up tablet market share." noted analyst James Wang.
Microsoft's challenge continues
With Microsoft acquiring Nokia's smartphone business, the research firm thinks it needs to bring a clearer set of products to consumers to be successful. It also needs to focus on app development and prove to both channel partners and consumers that it's in the hardware business for the long haul.
"A critical first step is to address the coexistence of Windows Phone and Windows RT. Having three different operating systems to address the smart device landscape is confusing to both developers and consumers alike." said Pin Chen Tang, an analyst at Canalys.
Canalys rounded out its report by stating it expects 2014 to "bring a flurry of acquisitions, mergers, and failures as PC hardware vendors of all sizes struggle to maintain their desktop and notebook business while attempting to capitalize on a tablet market that will see great volumes driving limited value."
This story, "Apple, Samsung forecast to still rule tablets in 2014" was originally published by PC Advisor (UK).