There is no end in sight to the decline of the PC, according to an analyst, but the good news is that tablet makers stand to benefit. However, analysts are at odds as to whether it will be Apple's iPad or Android tablets that win the battle for market share.
Barclays Capital analyst Ben Reitzes expects 182 million tablets to be sold in 2013 (he previously thought 146 million). In 2016 he thinks 300 million tablets will ship. And he thinks the iPad will be the most popular with 61% of the market in 2013 and 2014, 60% in 2015 and 59% in 2016.
"We believe that Apple will continue to gain share and be one of the main beneficiaries of the market move towards mobile devices," Reitzes said, according to an AllThingsD report.
However, Finvista Advisors analyst Sameer Singh is less positive about the iPad. He believes that Android smartphones have already taken first place with 75% market share based on 57 million units shipped last quarter, according to a VentureBeat report. According to IDC figures, Samsung recorded the greatest growth in the third quarter year-on-year, increasing Android shipments 325.0 per cent, shipping 1.2 million tablets in the third quarter. A total of 27.8 million tablets were shipped around the world in the third quarter of 2012, according to that data.
Singh notes that sales of Android tablets have grown faster than the iPad in six of the last eight quarters and concludes that this means Android tablets will out sell iPads in either the second or third quarter of 2013.
He does note, however, that although the iPad market share fell to 50.4% in the third quarter this was due to rumours that the iPad mini would soon launch and a slowdown of channel shipments due to the product refresh plans. As a result, he expects the current quarter figures to be better, "with the iPad holding on to about 55% of the market, thanks to the iPad mini launch".
However, he doesn't expect iPad mini sales to take way from Android sales. It will be a tough market for Apple: "We are currently seeing more tablets from more venders at a greater variety of price points," he writes.
It's not all bad news. Both Android and iPad sales will grow, as the total volume of sales of these mobile devices does. "Both platforms should see rapidly rising volumes, as market share gains will be growth driven," writes Singh.
Tablets and smartphones are already beginning to eclipse the PC, especially in education and enterprise according to Reitzes who notes that a "new generation of consumers and IT workers are figuring out how to compute differently than those who used PCs in the 90's - relying more on mobile devices and the cloud - as PCs see significant 'task infringement' by the day."
According to Reitzes, the days when 350-million PCs shipped a year are at an end.
He believes in a year or two the PC replacement cycle will be a year or two longer than it is now - which means a significant drop in shipments (50-100 million less than the current 300 million).