IDC sees tablet sales surpassing sales of PCs by 2015, and the company believes that tablets will surpass sales of laptops alone in this calendar year. In a new report, the firm said that tablet sales would grow 58.7 percent in 2013 to 229.3 million units. Those sales will then grow to 332 million units in 2015, and 410 million in 2017, as shown in the chart below.
At the heart of this sea change is the reality that many consumers are finding they can do almost everything they want on a tablet, particularly Apple's iPad. While IDC didn't point this out, iPad owners do more with their iPads than owners of other tablets, but IDC is predicting the continued growth of both iPad and Android tablets.
"IDC continues to believe that PCs will have an important role in this new era of computing, especially among business users," Ryan Reith, Program Manager for IDC's Mobility Trackers, said in a statement. "But for many consumers, a tablet is a simple and elegant solution for core use cases that were previously addressed by the PC."
This is essentially what the late Steve Jobs and then current Apple CEO Tim Cook have called the post-PC era. We have taken exception to the term in that it implies laptop and desktop PCs are no longer needed, useful, or even relevant. Like IDC, we believe that content creation and many productivity tasks are and will remain in the realm of PCs (and we're including Macs in that classification).
IDC noted that Apple has "been at the forefront of the tablet revolution," but said that much of the growth in the tablet market right now is being fueled by cheap Android devices. The company said that this is part of what is hurting the PC market.
"In 2013, the worldwide average selling price (ASP) for tablets is expected to decline -10.8% to $381," IDC wrote. "In comparison, the ASP of a PC in 2013 is nearly double that at $635. IDC expects tablet prices to decline further, which will allow vendors to deliver a viable computing experience into the hands of many more people at price points the PC industry has strived to meet for years."
Lastly, IDC noted that the tablets have been great for education and vice versa. In a statement, Jitesh Ubrani, Research Analyst for the Worldwide Quarterly Tablet Tracker, said, "Apple's success in the education market has proven that tablets can be used as more than just a content consumption or gaming device."
In a very salient and succinct observation, Mr. Ubrani added, "These devices are learning companions, and as tablet prices continue to drop, the dream of having a PC for every child gets replaced with the reality that we can actually provide a tablet for every child."
Truer words may ne'er have been spake, to butcher the old idiom. We're just at the very beginning of the revolution in education that will be wrought around tablets, and as those kids grow up, then we'll truly be in the post-PC era.