It’s been a slow build over the last several years, but for the first time ever, NPD is reporting that tablet displays are shipping in greater quantities than those destined for notebooks. This doesn’t mean notebook computers are dead by any stretch of the imagination, but it does bring to light an interesting trend that is only likely to accelerate.
Tablet shipments next year may well begin to exceed traditional notebooks, but PC hardware is on a much longer upgrade cycle than tablets. Most consumers think little of casting away a two year old tablet, while notebooks traditionally hold their value for much longer. This could partially explain the phenomenon, but here is what DisplaySearch thinks.
Inventory buildup in laptops: The notebook PC supply chain has some slow-moving inventory...and panel shipments declined by almost 4 million units from September to October.
Shift to Windows 8: Notebook PC panel buyers bought fewer displays as they prepared for new Windows 8 designs.
Tablet shipment surge: Tablet shipments soared to build inventory for the holidays.
DisplaySearch estimates that less expensive sub $200 tablets will propel fourth-quarter shipments to over 21.5 million, “far exceeding” the 14.6 million notebooks that will ship in the same period. When you stop to consider that hybrid devices are more likely being counted as “tablets” than “notebooks”, perhaps this isn’t so shocking after all.