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NPD: Tablet Shipments to Surpass Notebooks by 2016

Tablet sales may already be booming, but one research group says that Google's getting into the arena just when things are starting to get really good. The analysts at NPD DisplaySearch have gazed into their crystal balls -- while crunching some numbers, of course -- to compile the company's latest quarterly mobile PC forecast, and they predict that in 2016, tablet shipments will exceed traditional notebook shipments for the first time ever.

You can't quite call it cannibalization; notebooks shipments will increase in the same time frame, just not as dramatically as tablet shipments. Mature markets such as the U.S. and Western Europe are expected to be the biggest drivers for tablet adoption, accounting for over 60 percent of shipments all the way through 2017, when total tablet shipments are expected to hit 416 million.

For some comparison, the research firm Canalys says that a total of 239 million netbooks and notebooks shipped globally in 2011, along with 63.2 million tablets. NPD DisplaySearch expects 347 million mobile PCs -- a term that encompasses all three form factors -- to ship this year.

We won't just be seeing more tablets as time goes on; NPD DisplaySearch says we'll be seeing better tablets, too. The firm expects improvements in multi-core capabilities, operating system stability and app libraries as well as changes to the tablet form factor to better suit the technology's stand-out properties, such its long battery life and portability. Of course, we're already seeing those strides being made in today's tablet market, so it's hard to disagree there.

What do you think: will 2016 be the year we make the switch to Tablet Magazine?

Image credit: DisplaySearch