tablet researchMedia tablet shipments will surpass those of notebook computers come 2016, driving growth in the mobile PC market worldwide, according to a report from NPD DisplaySearch. Shipments of mobile PCs will increase from 347 million units in 2012 to more than 809 million by 2017, according to NPD DisplaySearch’s “Quarterly Mobile PC Shipment and Forecast Report.” The mobile PC category includes notebook PCs, mini-notebook PCs and tablet PCs, according to NPD’s measurements.

Growth in shipments of notebook PCs will be none too shabby, despite their declining share of the mobile PCS market. NPD DisplaySearch forecasts notebook PC shipments will increase from 121 million units in 2012 to 416 million for the period, a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 28%. Tablet PC sales will grow from 121 million units to 416 million units during the same period, NPD says.

Adoption in mature markets, including North America, Japan and Western Europe, will be a key growth driver for media tablet shipments for the five-year period, according to NPD DisplaySearch, with shipments in developed markets accounting for 66% of 2012’s total. They’ll hold in the 60% range throughout the period, the market research firm forecasts, with mature market tablet shipments increasing from 80 million units in 2012 to 254 million by 2017.

NPD DisplaySearch’s analysts see tablets evolving in form, function and performance to offer consumers a “compelling alternative to notebook PCs.” This includes new features such as instant-on capability, long battery life and “extreme portability,” as well as performance enhancements such as multi-core processors, more stable operating systems, larger app libraries and higher-resolution displays.

Notebook PC manufacturers in turn are redesigning their products to meet the tablet challenge, with thinner form factors, higher-resolution displays and touch-screens emerging quickly. Despite the challenge from tablets, NPD DisplaySearch forecasts notebook PCs will account for the largest part of the mobile PC market over the five-year period. That said, notebook PC market share will decline from 60% of shipments in 2012 to 49% by 2017.