Having previously ditched their desktop computers for laptops, U.S. college students will most likely follow global trends for mobile computing and trade in most of those laptops for tablet PCs. A new quarterly forecast from NPD DisplaySearch anticipates tablet shipments will rocket from 256.5 million worldwide this year to 579.4 million by 2017.
Students have already expressed a preference for lightweight technology they can easily tote all over campus. Like other consumers, they also have a penchant for touchscreens, one of the reasons they’re gravitating to tablets. Another is the availability of inexpensive no-name brands.
According to NPD, these lower-cost “white-box” brands, many made in China, will constitute about a third of all tablet shipments. Despite the cachet of owning an iPad, Galaxy, or Surface, many purchasers don’t mind an off brand if they can save big. And a cheapo model is less likely to be a magnet for theft.
Notebook manufacturers are producing more hybrids, sliders, and convertibles that aim to offer the best of both laptops and tablets. These machines allow users to essentially toggle back and forth between laptop-style computing and a tablet touchscreen. Some models have a single screen with a switching system. Others have dual screens, with the touchscreen detachable. For a look at these gadgets, check out an overview earlier this year by The Wall Street Journal’s Walter Mossberg.
While shipments of notebooks with touch capabilities are minuscule at present, they are expected to grow by leaps and bounds over the next few years, while shipments of nontouch notebooks shrink, the NPD report said.