Tablet Sales Rise, Notebook Sales Fall in Changing Mobile Landscape: NPD

While notebook shipments overall are projected to decline, the report noted there will be some pockets of growth, such as touch-screen notebooks.

Tablet PC shipments are forecast to increase 67 percent year-over-year to 256.5 million in 2013, and reach 579.4 million by 2017, while notebook PC shipments are expected to decline 10 percent over the next four years, from 203.3 million in 2013 to 183.3 million in 2017, according to the NPD DisplaySearch Quarterly Mobile PC Shipment and Forecast Report.

While notebook shipments overall are projected to decline, the report noted there will be some pockets of growth, such as shipments of notebooks with touch capabilities, which are expected to grow 48 percent Y/Y in 2014. Overall, the mobile PC market is expected to increase from 367.6 million units shipped in 2012 to 762.7 million globally by 2017, driven by touch-enabled form factors.

"The mobile PC industry is undergoing significant change this year," Richard Shim, senior analyst with NPD DisplaySearch, said in a statement. "The rapid rise and establishment of white box tablet PCs (tablets made by small local brands, mainly in China) is putting pressure on traditional notebook PCs. These low-cost tablets are reaching further into emerging regions where notebook PC penetration rates have remained low, resulting in cannibalization by tablet PCs."

White box tablet PCs--tablets produced by one company, such as the original device manufacturer (ODM) that other companies, like the vendor or original equipment manufacturer (OEM), rebrand to make it appear as if they made it— accounted for one-third of tablet PC shipments in 2012 and are expected to maintain at that level for the next several years.

The report also projected new operating systems such as Microsoft’s Windows 8 platform were unlikely to be a major driver of touch adoption. Rather, penetration of touch in notebook PCs would be driven by a reduction in cost and new form factors, such as hybrids, sliders, and convertibles. The majority of the new mobile devices shift will come as tablet PCs begin to replace notebook PCs this year as the dominant mobile PC form factor, and touch becomes a key feature in mobile PC adoption, the report noted.

"Thus far, Windows 8 has had a limited impact on driving touch adoption in notebook PCs, due to a lack of applications needing touch and the high cost of touch on notebook PCs," Shim added. "Form factors aimed at differentiation from standard clamshell notebooks will help to drive consumer adoption of touch-enabled notebook PCs, starting in the second half of 2013.”

In the struggling notebook space, touch will be used mainly in ultra-slim PCs, which includes Intel-specified Ultrabooks, possible a future version of Apple’s MacBook Air, and other slim form factor notebooks. Ultra-slim notebooks, which are at the premium end of the notebook market, are forecast to account for two-thirds of touch-enabled notebooks in 2013, and by 2017, they will account for 80 percent of touch-enabled notebooks.