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A new report by research firm Canalys suggests we’ll be buying tablets by the boatload in 2017 — almost 400 million of them. And next year, tablet sales will make up a full 50 percent of all PC sales, when you define a PC as one of a tablet, desktop, or laptop.

In fact, tablets are the only reason the overall “PC” market is continuing to grow.

Desktops vs laptops vs tablets in 2014

Above: Desktops vs laptops vs tablets in 2014

Established vendors such as Apple and Samsung will have challenges protecting their existing market share, however. Apple — which makes by far the majority of profits in the tablet sector — has well known issues with iOS market share in both phones and tablets due to its premium pricing and quality standards.

“Apple’s decline in PC market share is unavoidable when considering its business model. Samsung narrowly took the lead in EMEA this quarter and Apple will lose its position to competitors in more markets in the future,” Canalys analyst Tim Coulling said in a statement.

But Samsung will have issues as well. Despite the fact that the company grew its share in each of the last few quarters and is the leading maker of Android-based tablets, with 27 percent of the market, there are clouds on the horizon. That’s simply due to the rise of hundreds of local manufacturers and tough price competition from established PC companies.

“Small-to-micro brand vendors are eating up tablet market share. Vendors such as Nextbook in the United States, and Onda and Teclast in the People’s Republic of China ship more units than some of the major international top tier vendors in their home countries,” said Canalys analyst James Wang. “Vendors such as Acer, Asus, HP, and Lenovo have all entered the price war, with entry-level products at sub-U.S. $150 price points.”

tablet sales 2014 notebooks desktops

Microsoft is one of the growing vendors, with shipments approaching 5 percent of the market next year — more than doubling its share in a growing market from just a year ago, thanks to a maturing set of devices and its Nokia acquisition. And with Android taking a 65 percent tablet share, that leaves about 30 percent for Apple.

But the market will be complex and changing at the low end, Canalys says:

“Expect 2014 to bring a flurry of acquisitions, mergers, and failures as PC hardware vendors of all sizes struggle to maintain their desktop and notebook business while attempting to capitalize on a tablet market that will see great volumes driving limited value.”


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