IDC has released its latest devices forecast arguing that tablets will overtake PC shipments (desktop + laptops) in Q4 of this year. The firm said that for the full year PCs will still have larger numbers, but that will change by 2015 with tablets outpacing PC shipments.
IDC expects essentially flat growth for the PC market during the four year forecast period with laptops offsetting declines in the desktop market. However I think that’s a bit of wishful thinking on IDC’s part. Only if the enterprise market compensates for declines in the consumer market will we see flat or modestly positive growith for PCs.
Meanwhile tablets and smartphones (and hybrids) should see very strong growth for the next several years. Yet, there’s already evidence that in some markets so-called phablets have negatively impacted tablet sales. So it’s not clear that IDC’s prediction will turn out to be correct. What is certainly accurate to say is that mobile devices as a combined category (tablets + smartphones) is much larger than the PC market today and will continue to be so.
By 2017, smartphones will represent 70 percent of “connected device” shipments according to IDC, while PCs will constitute 13 percent of the market. Tablets will be 16.5 percent.
However 2017 is quite a few years away in technology terms and much could change between now and then. Hybrid phone-tablet devices may merit their own category at some point if they become popular enough. But I also suspect that tablets will be a larger part of the market than 16.5 percent.
Android is today and will remain the dominant computer operating system, with Windows a distant second. Google and Microsoft truly have traded places. And the future of the PC may reside in a “convertible” device that runs both Android and Windows and separates from a keyboard to become a stand-alone tablet.