Our love of tablets isn't going to fade any time soon, it seems: according to the latest research from NPD DisplaySearch, tablets accounted for one-quarter of all mobile PC shipments in 2011. That's an impressive 72.7 million devices, representing a growth rate of 256%, compared to 187.5 million notebook and laptop PCs, whose growth was just 12%. That's a lot of tablets, and the numbers just get bigger: NPD reckons that by 2017, tablets will be doing 383.3 million units per year compared to 432 million laptops.
One word of caution, though: NPD's figures reflect units shipped, which doesn't necessarily mean sold. We know of many tablets - the BlackBerry PlayBook, for example - whose shipment numbers looked fantastic but whose real-word sales have been dismal. Nevertheless, it's clear that the people who scoffed at Apple's original iPad are having to eat enormous quantities of humble pie as the market continues to grow.
One of the most interesting things about NPD's research is the way in which tablets and other mobile PCs are selling in emerging markets: in 2011, 138 million mobile PCs including tablets were shipped to emerging nations and 147.5 million in mature markets. By 2017, the firm predicts, emerging markets will be where the money is: the firm suggests that shipments to emerging markets will be 452.8 million units, compared to 371.6 million in mature markets.
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