Tablets shipments will soar ahead by 53 per cent in 2013 as desktop and laptop shipments decline by 11 per cent, according to research firm Gartner.
The emergence of ultramobile devices, which marries a PC with the form factor of a tablet, will help ease the declines in other PCs, but not by much. When ultramobiles are included, the overall PC market will still decline 8.4 per cent in 2013, Gartner said.
The news of the fantastic popularity of tablets comes as Apple is set to release revamped iPads and iPad Minis on Tuesday, while Microsoft on the same day begins shipments of its Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2 tabletsrunning Windows 8.1, starting at $449 and $899, respectively.
Gartner forecast that Android tablets of all brands will exceed iPads for all of 2013 for the first time, with 91.5 million (49.6 per cent) Android tablets shipped compared with 89.6 million (48.6 per cent) Apple iPads. Gartner said just over 3 million (1.7 per cent) Windows tablets will ship.
Apple's iPads still had the largest share of the worldwide tablet market by manufacturer at 32% in the second quarter, according to IDC, followed by Samsung at 18%. Samsung builds its tablets primarily on the Android mobile operating system.
Gartner and other analysts have found a strong trend toward smaller tablets, some as small as those with a 7-inch display. In a survey of 21,500 consumers in the US and seven other countries, Gartner found 47 per cent owned a tablet with a display of 8 inches or less.
"Continuing on the trend we saw last year, we expect this holiday season to be all about smaller tablets as even the long-term holiday favorite -- the smartphone -- loses its appeal," said Gartner analyst Carolina Milanesi in a statement.
Mobile phones will reach 1.8 billion shipments in 2013, Gartner said, growing by 3.7 per cent over 2012.
For all devices, including desktops, laptops, ultramobiles, tablets and mobile phones, Android has 38 per cent of the market, while the Windows OS is second at 4.3% due to a decline in traditional PC sales, Gartner said. The total shipments for all devices should reach 2.3 billion in 2013.
By device type, Gartner said shipments of desktops and laptops in 2013 will total 303 million units; ultramobiles, 18.5 million; tablets, 184 million; and mobile phones,1.8 billion. The total of all categories is 2.3 billion.
All products running iOS are third, at 1.2 per cent. Gartner noted that Windows will return to growth in 2014, with OS shipments increasing nearly 10 per cent to about 364 million that year.
Milanesi predicted that wearable computers such as smart watches and smart glasses will primarily remain a companion to mobile phones for years to come, even though vendors see the category as an important market opportunity. Fewer than 1 per cent of consumers will replace their mobile phones with a combination of a wearable device and a tablet by 2017, Gartner said.
"In the short term, we expect consumers to look at wearables as nice to have rather than a 'must have,' leaving smartphones to play the role of our faithful companion throughout the day," Milanesi said.
Matt Hamblen covers mobile and wireless, smartphones and other handhelds, and wireless networking for Computerworld. Follow Matt on Twitter at @matthamblen or subscribe to Matt's RSS feed. His email address is email@example.com.
Read more about tablets in Computerworld's Tablets Topic Center.