Tablets dominate mobile computing; ultrabooks await consumers, thin display techs

January 4, 2012 — Tablet PCs are taking over turf in the mobile PC market, making up 25.5% of the sector with shipments of 72.7 million units in 2011, according to the latest NPD DisplaySearch Quarterly Mobile PC Shipment and Forecast Report. Overall mobile PC shipments in 2011 are projected to reach 285.4 million units, up 31% over 2010.

Year-over-year (Y/Y) growth will hit 256% in 2011 for tablets, thanks to strong demand in Q3 and Q4 and a combination of vigorous demand for incumbent devices and competitive new devices hitting the market. Additional distribution channels were also a factor. Tablet PC shipments will be driven by increasingly powerful multi-core processors, mature operating systems, growing application libraries, and higher resolution panels. NPD DisplaySearch forecasts that tablet PCs with 250 to 300 pixel per inch panels will make up nearly 25% of shipments in 2012.

Notebook PC shipments in 2011 are now expected to reach 187.5 million units, up 12% Y/Y, but slightly less than NPD DisplaySearch’s previous forecast of 188 million. Mini-note PC shipments are expected to reach 25.2 million units, up 20% Y/Y.

Notebook PC shipments will bounce back in the long term, thanks to declining average selling prices (ASPs), predicts Richard Shim, senior analyst at NPD DisplaySearch. The mobile-optimized Windows 8 operating system and new Intel chips, as well as new form factors, such as ultrabooks, will also influence buyers. By 2017, notebook PC shipments are forecast to reach 432 million units, and tablet PC shipments are projected to reach 383.3 million units.

Figure 1. 2011-2017 mobile PC shipments by form factor (millions). Source: Quarterly Mobile PC Shipment and Forecast Report.

Mobile PC shipments into emerging regions are growing, with 2011 shipments projected to be 138 million units, up 48% Y/Y, and increasing to 452.8 million by 2017. Mobile PC shipments into mature regions are estimated to reach 147.5 million units in 2011 and grow to 371.6 million units by 2017.  

Ultrabooks are an emerging form factor that is expected to contribute to demand in later years of the forecast. Demand for ultrabooks will be driven by consumer interest in sleek design and convenience like instant-on and long battery life. For the next two years, these devices’ premium price points will temper demand, and there may be some supply limitations in production of displays thin enough for Ultrabooks.

Figure 2. 2011-2017 ultrabook PC shipment forecast (millions). Source: Quarterly Mobile PC Shipment and Forecast Report.

Also read: MEMS win, DRAM lose in ultrabook designs

The NPD DisplaySearch Quarterly Mobile PC Shipment and Forecast Report covers the entire range of mobile PC products shipped worldwide and regionally. With analysis of global and regional brands, the Quarterly Mobile PC Shipment and Forecast Report provides an objective, expert view of the market with insight into historical shipments, revenues, forecasts and more. NPD DisplaySearch is a global market research and consulting firm specializing in the display supply chain, as well as the emerging photovoltaic/solar cell industries. For more information on NPD DisplaySearch analysts, reports and industry events, visit us at


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