Tablets are the new PCs, say shipments

January 31, 2013

The shipment figures for tablets as a whole for Q4 2012 are in, and they suggest that tablets are pretty much ready to take over the world. While PCs remain the biggest seller overall, the lead this form factor has over the others is dwindling, and fast.

The International Data Corporation (IDC) has released preliminary data which suggests a record number of tablets were sold during the final quarter of last year. In total it estimates 52.5 million tablets made their way into the hands of consumers, which represents a 75.3 percent increase over Q4 2011, and a 74.3 percent increase over Q3 2012.

It will come as no great surprise to hear that the Apple iPad led the way with 22.9 million shipments for a total market share of 43.6 percent. The number of units sold has increased on the previous year, but its market share has dropped from 51.7 percent. Samsung came in second with a 15.1 percent share of the market, up from 7.3 percent a year earlier. Amazon, ASUS, and Barnes and Noble complete the top five.

This is only half the story though. As identified by GigaOM, the second, much more interesting, takeaway from these figures is that 89.8 million PCs were sold in that same time period. 89.8 million plays 52.5 million. That’s not a huge gap between the two, and it’s one that’s closing all the time.

Tablets are undoubtedly eating away at the PC market, and that trend looks set to continue until the inevitable happens: tablets will surpass laptops and desktops to become the most popular form factor in personal computing. And deservedly so.

While tablets have some way to go before they’re capable of completely usurping a PC, they’re improving all the time. Cast your mind back to the first iPad and then fast-forward to both the latest iPad and the collection of simple, smart Android tablets that are now available. Oh, and there’s the Microsoft Surface as well, but the less said about that the better… at least for now.

It’s now just a matter of when, not if, tablets will become the dominant form factor.

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