SAN FRANCISCO—Shipments of ultrathin PCs are projected to grow rapidly over the next three years as OEMs respond to the success of tablets by merging some of their most popular attributes into a form factor that more closely resembles a traditional notebook PC, according to a new market research report.
Sales of ultra-slim PC are projected to grow from 3.4 million in 2011 to $65 million by 2015, accounting for 25 percent of the total mobile PC market, according to a forecast by NPD DisplaySearch.
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Adoption of ultra-slim PCs, also known as ultrathin PCs, has been modest to date due to premium pricing and a lack of differentiation from standard notebooks, according to NPD. But the firm said adoption is expected to pick up in 2013 amid gradually decreasing prices and the launch of new processors aimed at a new type of computing.
The ultrathin category includes the Ultrabook PCs backed by Intel Corp., as well as other PCs with small screen sizes as thin form factors. NPD defines ultra-slim PCs as notebooks with screen sizes of at least 14-inches and thickness of less than 18-mm, including Ultrabooks and Apple Inc.'s MacBook Air Pro.
Last week, market research firm IHS iSuppli decreased its forecast for Ultrabook sales in 2012 due to premium prices and lack of effective marketing. The firm also reported that some OEMs are recasting some notebooks formerly called Ultrabooks as ultrathins in an effort to skirt Intel's stringent requirements.
According to NPD, consumers' changing preference from traditional notebook PCs to more convenient mobile computers providing easy access to content and usage is evident in the rise of tablet shipments, which the firm predicts will exceed notebook PC shipments by 2016. Notebook PC makers are responding by adopting the features of tablets that consumers have appreciated the most, NPD said.
"Tablet PCs have offered consumers what they have been requesting from the notebook market for years—instant-on activation, long battery life, and sleeker designs," said Richard Shim, senior analyst with NPD DisplaySearch, in a statement. "These attributes are the basis for enabling greater and easier accessibility to content and services. Ultra-slim PCs are the notebook market’s response to tablets and aim to balance performance and convenience."
Maturing ultra-slim PC panel production processes are expected to lower materials costs and pricing for ultrathin PCs, NPD said. A combination of improvements in thinner glass manufacturing and handling, as well as assembly of panels, will improve yields and lower the cost of panels, one of the most expensive components in an ultra-slim PC, the firm predicted.