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, according to the NPD DisplaySearch. The majority of this shift will come as tablet PCs begin to replace notebook PCs this year as the dominant mobile form-factor, and touch becomes a key feature in mobile PC adoption.
“The mobile PC industry is undergoing significant change this year. 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,” said Richard Shim, senior analyst with NPD DisplaySearch.
Tablet PC shipments are forecast to increase 67% year-over-year to 256.5 million in 2013, and reach 579.4 million by 2017. White box tablet PCs accounted for one-third of tablet PC shipments in 2012 and will maintain at that level for the next several years.
Notebook PC shipments are expected to decline 10% over the next four years, from 203.3 million in 2013 to 183.3 million in 2017, but there will be pockets of growth. Shipments of notebooks with touch capabilities are expected to grow 48% year-over-year in 2014.
In the notebook category, touch will be used mainly in ultra-slim PCs, which includes Intel-specified ultrabooks, the MacBook Air, and other slim form factor notebooks. Ultra-slims, which are at the premium end of the notebook market, are forecast to account for two-thirds of touch-enabled notebooks in 2013. By 2017, they will be 80%. Intel’s recent mandate that third-generation ultrabooks (using the company’s next generation Haswell processors) must include touch will also help adoption.
Global Mobile PC Shipments, 2012-2017
New operating systems such as Windows 8 are unlikely to be a major driver of touch adoption. Rather, penetration of touch in notebook PCs will be driven by a reduction in cost and new form factors, such as hybrids, sliders, and convertibles.
“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. 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,” added Mr. Shim.