Despite slowing growth, tablet sales expected to overtake PCs next year

lots of tablets

If you consider the start of the current tablet market to be 2010 when the iPad launched, it will have only taken five years for tablets to outsell traditional PCs. That’s the expectation from research firm Gartner, which published its latest computer sales forecast figures on Monday.

Dell Venue Pro tablets

We’ve already witnessed an overall decline in PC sales for the past 18 months but the growth rate for tablet sales is slowing as well. Put another way: Tablet sales are still on the rise, just not as quickly as they were in previous years. Gartner estimates 256 million tablets will be sold this year, which is 23.9 percent more than in 2013. By comparison, the firm says 120 million tablets were sold in 2012 and 206 million last year, which is a jump of nearly 72 percent.

Next year, Gartner figures, will see 320.9 million tablet sales compared to 316.6 million traditional PCs, ultramobile and premium notebooks, marking the first time tablets will outsell their computing ancestors.

That may not be a surprise; after all, there are many reasons for consumers and businesses to spend money on tablets as opposed to desktops and notebooks. Tablets have continued to gain functions that were once the domain of traditional computers, for example. Computers are also on longer replacement cycles by comparison. My son, for instance, uses a 2008 MacBook laptop and just said he hopes to use it through his last two years of high school before replacing it. And tablets are generally priced lower than computers, making them easier on the budget.

Does this mean tablets are replacing computers? For some, they surely are, but there are still plenty of good reasons for traditional computers to exist, ranging from legacy enterprise apps to animation in the entertainment industry.

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