Shipments of Internet-enabled devices such as televisions and video-game consoles will exceed those of PCs by 2013, according to a new report by research firm IHS.
"These new figures are the latest evidence that the Internet is not just for PCs anymore," Jordan Selburn, principal analyst for consumer platforms at IHS, wrote in an Aug. 12 statement. "Increasingly, each Internet-enabled electronics device is vying to become the center of what is known as the digital living room, aggregating content throughout the home."
IHS included media tablets in its calculations, but excluded smartphones, which the firm tracks under the metric of wireless communications equipment. "Although IHS officially designates tablets as wireless devices," read the firm's Aug. 12 note concerning the results, "they are being included in the Internet-enabled consumer electronics category because of the key role they are playing in the market for the connected home."
Video-game consoles ranked at the top of Internet-enabled devices sold in 2010, with 50.5 million units, followed by televisions with 40 million units. In 2011, though, IHS believes devices like the Xbox will find themselves toppled by media tablets, which boast projected shipments of 61.9 million units. Last year, tablets shipped 19.7 million units.
By 2013, shipments of Internet-enabled devices will reach 503.6 million units, surpassing PCs with 433.7 million units shipped.
Certainly tablets have arisen to challenge PCs as the center of most users' computing lives. "The iPad has successfully integrated the functionality of a slimmed-down notebook into a media-player form factor," Gleacher & Co. analyst Brian Marshall wrote in a July research note, "and has effectively rendered a significant portion of the Mac (and potentially the iPhone) product family obsolete. This presents a serious problem as iPhones and Macs generated 64 [percent] of Apple's total revenue in [calendar year] 2010."
Interest in tablets could also crimp purchases of traditional PCs. During Apple's last earnings call, COO Tim Cook even acknowledged the effect of the iPad on his own company's products. "Some customers choose to purchase an iPad instead of a new Mac during the quarter," he told media and analysts. "But even more customers chose to buy an iPad over a Windows PC. ... There's a lot more of the PC Windows business to cannibalize than the Mac."
In its report, IHS also suggested that Blu-ray players and set-top boxes would join tablets are the Internet-enabled devices primed for most rapid expansion in coming years.