Tablets will outsell laptops for the first time ever this quarter, at least in North America, and will continue to outsell them next year.
That's according to NPD DisplaySearch, whose Quarterly Mobile PC Shipment and Forecast Report suggests discounts on tablets, such as Google's Nexus 7 and Amazon's Kindle Fire, will provide a huge sales boost in the current "Black Friday" sales and run-up to Christmas.
The analyst group forecasts that 21.5 million tablets will be shipped in North America during the fourth quarter of 2012, far more than the 14.6 million notebooks that are expected to ship in the same period.
NPD expects tablets to outsell notebooks across the year for the first time in North America during 2013, forecasting 80 million tablet sales compared to sales of 64 million notebooks.
The company doesn't expect global shipments of tablet computers to trump those of notebooks until 2015, when it predicts that tablets will just scrape by with 276 million sold compared to 270 for more traditional computing devices.
Businesses have been increasingly using tablets for some time, but this marks the first time that the devices will become a more popular purchase for regular consumers. NPD suggests that a high PC penetration rate, with more than 70 per cent of Americans owning a computer, means there's less demand to purchase new ones.
Tablet producers, including Apple, Amazon and Google, have made a real push in marketing their products, with a variety of 7in, 7.9in, 8.9in, 10.1in, and 10.6in devices available, while Microsoft has also released Surface, a tablet running on a fork of Microsoft's new Windows 8 operating system.
A Computing survey earlier this year revealed almost 70 per cent of IT professionals use a tablet to some extent in a professional capacity.