nexus7 tabletTablet shipments will grow nearly 60% (58.7%) this year and reach 229.3 million units, up from 144.5 million in 2012, according to the latest IDC “Worldwide Quarterly Tablet Tracker” report. Forecasting that portable PC sales will decline for a second consecutive year, IDC predicts that global tablet shipments will surpass those of portable PCs in 2013 and the entire PC market (portables and desktops) by 2015.

The surge in tablet and mobile computing devices and solutions is indicative of more than just belt-tightening on the part of consumers in the face of slow economic growth and insecurity, according to Ryan Reith, program manager for IDC’s Mobility Tracker.

“What started as a sign of tough economic times has quickly shifted to a change in the global computing paradigm with mobile being the primary benefactor. Tablets surpassing portables in 2013, and total PCs in 2015, marks a significant change in consumer attitudes about compute devices and the applications and ecosystems that power them.

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“IDC continues to believe that PCs will have an important role in this new era of computing, especially among business users. But for many consumers, a tablet is a simple and elegant solution for core use cases that were previously addressed by the PC.”

Low-cost Android tablets are increasingly driving growth, though Apple devices continue to lead the “tablet revolution.” IDC forecasts worldwide average selling prices (ASPs) for tablets will fall 10.8% to $381 in 2013 as compared to an ASP for PCs of $635.

IDC analysts believe tablet ASPs will continue to decline, which will drive uptake across broader market and economic segments. “Apple’s success in the education market has proven that tablets can be used as more than just a content consumption or gaming device,” elaborated Jitesh Ubrani, Worldwide Quarterly Tablet Tracker research analyst.

“These devices are learning companions, and as tablet prices continue to drop, the dream of having a PC for every child gets replaced with the reality that we can actually provide a tablet for every child.”

Driven by the success of 7-inch tablets, the tablet market has also undergone a shift to smaller (sub-8 inch) tablets, with Apple launching its iPad mini in 4Q 2012, IDC notes. “In the space of two quarters the sub-8-inch category exploded to overtake the larger sized segment in terms of total shipments.”

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