Emerging Technology

Quarterly shipments of tablets to overtake PCs this year

Andrew Sadauskas /

The number of tablets shipped worldwide during the fourth quarter of 2013 is likely to be higher than the number of desktop and laptop PCs shipped for the first time ever, according to new IDC figures.

According to the figures, there will be around 227.3 million tablets shipped worldwide during 2013.

In contrast, there will be 134.4 million desktop PCs and 180.9 million portable PCs shipped during the same time.

During the fourth quarter of 2013, IDC predicts the total number of tablets shipped will exceed the total number of desktop and portable PCs combined for the first time ever.

IDC also forecasts the divide to get wider by 2017, when around 406.8 million tablets are expected to be shipped – a 78.9% growth rate over 2013.

By comparison, portable PCs are expected to grow at a far more sedate rate of 8.7% over the same period to 196.6 million units, while desktop PC shipments are expected to fall by 8.4% to just 123.1 million units per year.

The figures also show a similarly explosive growth rate for smartphones, with annual shipments expected to grow from 1.013 billion in 2013 to 1.73 billion by 2017, representing a massive 71.1% growth rate.

The figures are good news to smartphone and tablet makers, including Apple, Samsung and Google, yet will come as a cause for alarm for already struggling PC makers, including HP and Dell.

The figures will also put further pressure on Microsoft’s transition from being a PC operating system software company to a services, smartphone and tablet manufacturer.

“The device world has seen several iterations of cannibalisation impacting different categories, with the last few years focused on tablets cannibalising PC sales,” says IDC Clients and Displays program vice president Bob O’Donnell.

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Andrew Sadauskas

Andrew Sadauskas is a former journalist at SmartCompany and a former editor of TechCompany.

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