FRAMINGHAM: Global shipments of tablets are expected to surpass those of desktops this year and those of laptops next year, according to a new report.

The Smart Connected Device Tracker study from International Data Corporation, the research company, found that worldwide shipments of desktop PCs, notebook PCs, tablets, and smartphones grew 29.1% during 2012, largely driven by a 78.4% year-on-year growth in tablet shipments.

The total number of smart connected devices passed 1bn, and those of tablets in particular amounted to 128m.

IDC anticipates the tablet market will to grow to 190m units in 2013, a year-on-year rise of 48.7%, while the smartphone market is forecast to reach 918.5m units, a year-on-year increase of 27.2%. Desktop shipments, however, will fall 4.3%, while laptops remain broadly flat with a marginal 0.9% increase.

"Consumers and business buyers are now starting to see smartphones, tablets, and PCs as a single continuum of connected devices separated primarily by screen size," said Bob O'Donnell, IDC Program Vice President for Clients and Displays.

"These kinds of developments are creating exciting new opportunities that will continue to drive the smart connected devices market forward in a positive way," he added.

Regionally, smart connected device volume grew in emerging markets two and a half times as fast as in mature ones. Tablets, in particular, more than doubled their volumes, growing by 111.3%. Smartphones, too, grew quickly at 69.7%.

"In emerging markets, consumer spending typically starts with mobile phones and, in many cases, moves to tablets before PCs," said Megha Saini, Research Analyst for IDC's Worldwide Smart Connected Device Tracker.

"The pressure on the PC market is significantly increasing and we can see longer replacement cycles coming into effect very soon and that, too, will put downward pressure on PC sales."

Looking out to 2017, total shipments of smart connected devices are predicted to reach 2.2bn units. Tablet unit shipments are expected to increase by a factor of three in emerging markets while smartphone unit shipments are expected to double.

Data sourced from IDC; additional content by Warc staff