Analyst: Tablets will outsell notebook PCs by 2016

Tablet PC shipments are projected to exceed notebook PC shipments by 2016.

According to NPD DisplaySearch analyst Richard Shim, the paradigm industry shift has prompted notebook PC manufacturers to adopt a number of key tablet features. 

“Tablet PCs have offered consumers what they have been requesting from the notebook market for years, instant-on activation, long battery life and sleeker designs,” explained Shim. 

“These attributes are the basis for enabling greater and easier accessibility to content and services. [Clearly], ultra-slim PCs are the notebook market’s response to tablets and aim to balance performance and convenience.”

Nevertheless, ultra-slim PC adoption has thus far been modest to date due to premium pricing and a lack of differentiation from standard notebooks. 

As Shim notes, prices have gradually decreased and adoption is expected to ramp up in 2013 as new x86 processors aid in the achievement of more convenience-oriented computing. 

Meanwhile, maturing ultra-slim PC panel production processes should ultimately lower material costs and premium prices. 

“A combination of improvements in thinner glass manufacturing and handling, as well as assembly of panels, will improve yields and lower the cost of panels, one of the most expensive components in an ultra-slim PC,” added Shim. 

NPD DisplaySearch defines an ultra-slim PC as a notebook with a screen size greater than 14″ and a z-height (i.e. thickness) of less than21mm, while notebooks with screen sizes less than14″ must have a z-height of less than 18mm. 

Included in the category are notebook PCs fitting Intel’s stringent Ultrabook definition, Apple’s wildly popular MacBook Air and the MacBook Pro with Retina display.