Are Tablets Set to Overtake Laptops? – NASDAQ: AAPL, MSFT

There is no doubt that the popularity of tablet PCs have grown in leaps and bounds, especially over the last couple of years with the advent of the Apple Inc.(NASDAQ:AAPL) iPads.

But can we seriously say that it is time to bid goodbye to the trusted laptops that have been an essential accessory of road-warriors for so many years now?

In July, market research firm NPD Display Search had come with a report where it predicted that global tablet sales would leap above traditional laptop sales by the year 2017, just a mere four years away.

According to NPD in order to achieve this growth NPD estimated that 121 million tablets would have to be sold in 2012. It also forecast tablet shipments at 416 million units in 2017.

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In June the company had said that tablets, among other devices, had become a favourite medium for consumers to view television and video content.

"This growth has occurred in conjunction with increased tablet adoption in these markets. The widespread tablet adoption was driven by improved connectivity infrastructure has facilitated use of these devices as alternate content-viewing devices," it said.
The reason for the rise on sales of tablets is not far to seek - drop in costs and a rise in features. To that I would add better computing powers in terms of higher memory, faster processing speeds and larger storage capabilities.

The main limiting factor for the use of tablets as portable devices would be their ability to do heavy-duty computing where laptops still score. But once tablets gain in power without compromising on their lighter weight and smaller sizes that is when we can expect an exponential rise in their sales.

Gartner's recently released figures on tablet sales has projected that Apple would sell 73 million units of its tablet in 2012 with 61.4 percent market share. Android powered tablets (which also include Samsung) are expected to sell 37.9 million units with 31.9 percent share of the market.

The remaining share of the market will be shared between Windows, Blackberry and other devices. All of these take us very close to the 121 million-mark projected by NPD.

In addition to this we have Microsoft Corporation(NASDAQ:MSFT)’s Surface tablet launching later this year, an iPad Mini from Apple, a new Samsung tablet code-named P10, all of which will add to the sales.

Samsung's recently launched Galaxy Note with a 10-inch screen - an obvious ploy to bridge the gap between a tablet and phone - is also expected to notch up the figure.

Whether all this will add up to tablets outstripping laptops depends on a lot of other factors, and only time will tell. After all, desktops are still around.

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