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Monday, October 24, 2011
Tablet PC Architectures Dominated by ARM and iOS


Shipments of tablet PCs with ARM processors are expected to grow 211% Y/Y in 2011 to 59.9 million units, while tablet PCs with x86 processors (typically used in notebook and netbook PCs) are not expected to experience strong growth until 2013, according to new report by DisplaySearch.

Similarly, Windows 8, which is also associated with mobile PCs, is not expected to take significant share until 2013. Global tablet shipments are expected to reach nearly 330 million units by 2017, up from less than 60 million units in 2011, so this market segment.

"The tablet PC and notebook PC markets are on a collision course as both product categories continue to evolve and improve on their respective weaknesses," said Richard Shim, DisplaySearch Senior Analyst. "As such, each product category will influence the other over time. Still, the incumbent platforms have inherent advantages in the early years."



More brands will challenge Apple for a share of the tablet PC market and are expected to experiment with the various platforms available to them in the market. PC brands are likely to gravitate toward the familiar - Windows and x86 platforms - with some branching out towards the ARM platform as well. The emergence of Amazon as a tablet hardware vendor introduces even more non-Windows and non-x86 thinking into the tablet PC ecosystem, requiring players like Microsoft and Intel to catch up to the changing landscape of consumer computing.

"Although several processor architectures could be used to power tablet SoCs, the rich software ecosystem of the ARM architecture built around smart phones is proving to be a key differentiating factor," according to Jim McGregor, Chief Technology Strategist for In-Stat, an NPD Group Company. "Unlike notebook and netbook PCs, where consumers have chosen products based on the processor or PC vendor, consumers of new mobile devices care more about what they can do with the devices, which is associated more with the device applications and services."

Ultimately the developer community and the apps they create will play a significant role in the success of any emerging platform.

The DisplaySearch Tablet Quarterly report covers the changing landscape of screen sizes, features that are expected to be included and excluded in future tablets, and operating systems, including these highlights:

- Cellular connectivity could be a potential catalyst for shipment growth and will be an influential technology in the growth of the tablet category. The share of tablets with embedded cellular connectivity will reach about 10% in 2013 and will exceed 25% by 2017.

- Many display manufacturers are transitioning tablet panel production to larger plants, Gen 6 and Gen 8, which will lead to greater panel capacity for tablets. This transition could affect pricing.


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