Research firm Canalys estimates global sales of PCs (desktop and mobile) and tablets may hit 493.1 million units this year, representing a growth of 7 percent year-over-year. The key growth driver are tablets, sales of this product category are anticipated to account for 37 percent of the PC market, up from around 25 percent in 2012. Canalys predicts the market may hit 713.8 million units in 2017, with 64 percent being tablets and 25 percent notebooks.
The firm said that worldwide demand for tablets has gone from strength to strength, while that for desktops and notebooks has waned. In the first quarter of 2013, the desktop market fell 10.3% and the notebook market declined 13.1%. The size of the tablet market, however, more than doubled in the first quarter of 2013, with a 106.1% increase in shipments to 41.9 million units. Shipments show no sign of slowing and Canalys forecasts that in 2013 tablet shipments will reach 182.5 million units, with global tablet shipments surpassing those of notebooks in the final quarter of the year.
The reception to Windows 8 has not reinvigorated demand for Microsoft-based PCs but there is a glimmer of hope for OEMs with Microsoft's plan to release Windows 8.1 as a free upgrade. "Microsoft will continue to innovate. New versions will come and its OS release cycle will gain speed. But it must address some of the criticisms that have been directed at the OS's user interface or it risks losing even more ground to iOS and Android in the PC space," said Tim Coulling, senior analyst at Canalys.