250 million tablets will be sold in 2013

The oracle of Omaha consults the oracle known as Google.
The oracle of Omaha consults the oracle known as Google.
Image: AP/Nati Harnik
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Tablet computers are growing so fast that it looks like 2014 or 2015 will be the year sales of tablets eclipse sales of PCs.

Here are NPD Displaysearch’s projections for sales of tablet and notebook PCs (multiply the left scale by 1,000). Pay attention to the blue bars.

My, what big blue bars you have.
My, what big blue bars you have.
Image: NPD Displaysearch

Now compare those numbers to IDC’s projections for PC sales through 2017 (multiply the left scale by 1,000,000).

What’s a PC?
What’s a PC?
Image: IDC

With PC sales hovering around 350 million units for the next few years, and tablet sales shooting above 400 million by 2015, it appears the tipping point at which tablets become the planet’s dominant personal computing device is nigh.

Here’s a breakdown of the projections for growth of tablet sales for 2013, from Taiwan-based industry watcher Digitimes Research:

  • 254 million tablets sold in 2013 represents a 63.9% increase from 2012.
  • Tablet makers are increasingly targeting emerging markets by steadily lowering their average unit price. Brand-name companies are now selling tablets for $99. A year ago comparable models would have cost twice as much.
  • Ultra cheap tablets are no longer only produced in India. No-name manufacturers of commodity electronics are going to start pushing tablets as inexpensive as $40 in 2013, says Digitimes Research.

The takeaway: In rich countries, consumers are refining their computer needs around use for work and pleasure. In emerging markets, the trend is more transformative: Why buy a PC, or even a mobile phone, when a single device can do it all?