Tablets will out ship almost all other PC form factors combined next year, forming nearly 50 percent of the total market, according to a report from analysts at Canalys.
The worldwide client PC market grew 18 percent in the third quarter of this year, despite desktop and notebook shipments continuing to decline.
However, tablet shipment accounted for 40 percent of PC shipments, less than half a million units behind global notebook shipments.
Canalys predicts this trend to continue and has forecast 285 million units to ship in 2014, growing to 396 million units in 2017.
Apple, Samsung fight for lead
Apple and Samsung are expected to keep ahead of their competitors in the near term. But both vendors could face challenges as the market heats up.
Its desktop and notebook business has remained stable while other vendors have seen their shipments deteriorate. Apple's prioritization of protecting gross margins will see its PC market share continue to decline.
Canalys analyst Tim Coulling said Apple's decline in PC market share was 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," he said. "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."
Microsoft's a player, analyst says
Canalys forecasts that Microsoft will take 5 percent of the tablet PC market in 2014, up from just 2 percent in 2012.
Canlys analyst Pin Chen Tang said 2014 will bring another major shift for the company as the Nokia acquisition brings it a step closer to being a fully-fledged smart mobile device vendor.
"As a vendor Microsoft needs to prove to channel partners and consumers that it is in this market for the long haul," he said. "Balancing the competition with its vendor partners and embracing a 'challenger' rather than an incumbent mentality is essential. To improve its position it must drive app development and better utilize other relevant parts of its business to round out its mobile device ecosystem."
Android-derived operating systems will be responsible for driving growth in the market and are forecast to take a 65 percent share in 2014 with 185 million units.
Samsung continues to lead with strong year-on-year growth coming from its broad tablet portfolio, and in the third quarter of 2013 it had a 27 percent share of Android tablet shipments.
But with hundreds of small-to-micro brand vendors in established and high-growth markets and international players such as Acer, Asus, Lenovo, and Hewlett-Packard, analysts say this market share statistic will also start to decline.
This story, "Tablets will rule 2014, analysts say, but vendors will battle" was originally published by ARNnet.