Jobs Was Right: Tablets to Surpass Laptop Shipments in 2013

Worldwide shipment of tablet devices, a category popularized by the launch of the original iPad in 2010, will surpass worldwide laptop sales in 2013, according to a market forecast report released Monday by NPD DisplaySearch. With 240 million tablet sales predicted in the coming year compared to 207 million laptop sales, the young category of devices will explode to capture a majority of the market less than three years after its broad adoption, reaching an astounding 75 percent of the mobile computing market by 2017.

If the sales predictions prove true, 2013 will mark the first time that tablets will take the majority of the mobile computing market, a major shift for the industry and proof that “Steve Jobs was right,” as AllThingsD characterized the situation in their coverage of the report.

As the late Apple CEO and co-founder famously told the crowd at the 2010 D8 Conference shortly after the launch of the first generation iPad:

When we were an agrarian nation, all cars were trucks, because that’s what you needed on the farm. But as vehicles started to be used in the urban centers, cars got more popular. Innovations like automatic transmission and power steering and things that you didn’t care about in a truck as much started to become paramount in cars...

PCs are going to be like trucks. They’re still going to be around, they’re still going to have a lot of value, but they’re going to be used by one out of X people.

Also revealed by the DisplaySearch report were figures for screen size popularity. The full-sized iPad uses a 9.7-inch display, which is currently the most common size for tablets. But new tablets from Apple and its competitors in the 7-to–8-inch size range are quickly gaining traction. This smaller tablet form factor is expected to account for 45 percent of all tablets in 2013, with continued growth until 2017.

When Mr. Jobs made his 2010 remarks likening traditional PCs and Macs to trucks, many in the industry were wary of a future controlled by simplified and locked-down mobile devices. But like many of the late Apple CEO’s predictions, this one appears to be quickly coming true.