Connect with top gaming leaders in Los Angeles at GamesBeat Summit 2023 this May 22-23. Register here.

According to Forrester Research, tablets are rapidly becoming the primary device of choice for millions of people around the world. Sales of tablet computers in 2016 are predicted to hit 375 million, and 760 million tablets could be in use worldwide. Compared to the 56 million tablets purchased worldwide in 2011, that’s a compound annual-growth rate of 46 percent.

According to the report, Apple’s iPad, which notably created the tablet market just two years ago, will represent one-third of all tablet purchases by 2016. Meanwhile, Google’s Android operating system will actually see a net decline in market share due to the launch of Microsoft Windows 8. However, according to Forrester, Microsoft’s new tablet OS won’t really start taking off until 2014 because Microsoft will need time to create a fully captivating Windows Metro experience for its users.

So what will happen to all those PCs? Frank Gillett from Forrester had the following to say about desktops and laptops:

Our casual estimate is that there will be 2 billion PCs in use by 2016, despite growing tablet sales. That’s because tablets only partially cannibalize PCs. Eventually tablets will slow laptop sales but increase sales of desktop PCs. That’s because many people, especially information workers, will still need conventional PCs for any intensely creative work at a desk that requires a large display or significant processing power.

In order to address the lack of processing power in tablets, Forrester predicts a new consumer electronics device its calling a “Frame,” which is essentially a docking station for your tablet. These frames will give tablets increased power and more features, such as the ability to link up to TVs and other devices around the house.

Forrester also predicts that the majority of tablets have a three-year lifespan for most consumers, which will help fuel tablet sales starting in 2014. Of the 760 million tablets in use globally by 2016, one-third of them will be purchased by businesses, and 40 percent of sales will come from emerging markets.

Top image via dcmetroblogger/Flickr

VentureBeat's mission is to be a digital town square for technical decision-makers to gain knowledge about transformative enterprise technology and transact. Discover our Briefings.