The latest report from GBI Research predicts that "insatiable" consumer demand for tablets will drive unit shipments almost fourfold by 2016, substantially outpacing the growth of the laptop sector.
According to the report, 73 million tablets were shipped within the last year. That number is expected to inflate to 275 million units shipped per year by 2016, showing a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 19-percent.
"Products such as Apple’s ubiquitous iPad and Amazon’s Kindle series are taking the world by storm, meeting the needs of casual computer users in smaller, easier to use and often cheaper devices," GBI Research said. "Correspondingly, laptop manufacturers are increasingly targeting business users who typically require more powerful systems with a wider range of applications."
On the notebook front, the number of shipped units reached 198 million per year in 2011, and is expected to increase to 318 million per year by 2016. That's a less-aggressive CAGR of 7.6-percent. Consumers waiting to replace their notebooks when they become outdated may be to blame, choosing the (sometimes) cheaper, more portable tablet form factor instead, thus reducing notebook sales.
The report arrives as even more form factors begin to emerge at the dawn of Microsoft's release of Windows 8. Slated for an October 26 release, OEMs are already introducing their new products, hybrids with touch screens and keyboard covers that bridge the gap between tablet and notebook. Making predictions now seems almost fruitless until these new form factors – these hybrids – begin to saturate the market.
Until then, GBI Research claims that Ultrabooks will represent the future of the notebook sector: they're thinner, lighter, and potentially quicker, and are expected to represent almost half of all notebooks sold by 2016. Ultrabooks are the obvious natural evolution of the notebook form factor much like the smartphone evolved from the bulky rotary phone.
The full report from GBI Research, called "Ultrabooks Market to 2016 - Financial and Technological Support from Intel Corporation Coupled with Demand from Business Users Segment Will Drive Growth", can be accessed here. It was built using data and information sourced from proprietary databases, primary and secondary research, and in-house analysis conducted by GBI Research’s team of industry experts.