New research from digital consultancy Canalys suggests that tablet computers will make up more than 50 per cent of all computers sold in the world next year, and Android-based tablets are expected to outsell Apple iPads by a factor of two to one.
Globally, the worldwide computer market expanded by 18 per cent last year, even as sales of conventional desktop and laptop computers continued to decline. In relatively short order, tablets have grown to make up 40 per cent of all computer sales, a ratio that's expected to tip over to the other side some time next year.
There will be around 285 million tablets sold around the world next year. That contrasts with an expected 192 million laptops and 98 million desktops. Canalys expects the tablet figure to grow even more, to 396 million by 2017, while the other two categories steady out.
Although Apple has lost its dominance in the tablet market it practically invented with the iPad, it nonetheless maintains the edge in profitability from the devices.
"Apple is one of the few companies making money from the tablet boom," Canalys senior analyst Tim Coulling said. "Premium products attract high value consumers; for Apple, remaining highly profitable and driving revenue from its entire ecosystem is of greater importance than market share statistics."
Outside of the big two, Canalys says Microsoft could be poised to make exponential gains from an admittedly small base. Microsoft made up about two per cent of all tablet sales in 2012. Canalys expects its sales to more than double to as much as five per cent by the end of next year.
"To improve its position it must drive app development and better utilize other relevant parts of its business to round out its mobile device ecosystem,” said Canalys research analyst Pin Chen Tang.