SANTA CLARA: Global shipments of tablet devices are projected to more than double those of standard notebook PCs and ultra-slim PCs by next year, according to the latest forecasts from NPD DisplaySearch, a market research firm.

The Quarterly Mobile PC Shipment and Forecast Report indicated that shipments of tablets, a category including Apple's iPad, will reach 364m in 2014. The devices' popularity will be fuelled by their growing appeal in emerging markets, where lower prices and smaller screen sizes are attractive to buyers.

By contrast, shipments of notebook PCs and ultra-slim PCs are expected to reach the 177m mark next year and to continue their relative decline over the next few years, NPD said. This category is forecast to have 176m shipments by 2017, compared with tablet shipments of 589m.

Richard Shim, senior analyst at NPD DisplaySearch, noted that supply chain indications show that previously planned production of notebook PCs is being pulled back because of declining adoption rates. Brands are increasing their repertoire of tablet PC models, Shim added.

As the market evolves and brands seek to differentiate their products, the NPD research also highlights how tablet PCs with smaller-sized screens are set to dominate.

Tablet PCs with screens smaller than 8" are expected to comprise 59% of the market in 2013, but this will rise to 63% in 2015, or 277m units, before increasing again to 350m in 2017.

Shim said: "Smaller tablets are important because they will encourage adoption in emerging regions. Smaller screen sizes translate to lower priced tablet PC options since display panels tend to comprise just over a third of the total cost of a tablet, which makes them attractive in price-sensitive markets."

Data sourced from NPD Display Search; additional content by Warc staff