Your Laptop Is Doing Less and Less

NEW YORK (MainStreet) — Are laptop and other “standalone” computers going the way of the duck-billed platypus?

Recent industry studies say yes.

While U.S. technology consumers still cling to their standalone devices, they’re really not using them, and within years, laptops and desktop computers may be relics, much like the home telephone and office fax machine.

First up is Framingham, Mass.-based Interactive Data Corp., which reports that the number of tablet computers sold worldwide should reach 190 million in 2013 (up from an earlier forecast of 172 million devices.)

By 2017, tablet computers may actually overtake standalone computers, at least in sales volume. IDC estimates total global tablet shipments will hit 353 million that year, compared with an early forecast of 382 million personal computer shipments.

"One in every two tablets shipped this quarter was below 8 inches in screen size, says Jitesh Ubrani, research analyst for IDC’s Tablet Tracker survey. “And in terms of shipments, we expect smaller tablets to continue growing in 2013 and beyond. Vendors are moving quickly to compete in this space as consumers realize that these small devices are often more ideal than larger tablets for their daily consumption habits."

Google Android and Apple tablets are expected to dominate the consumer technology landscape, with an estimated 49% and 46% market share, respectively, this year, IDC adds.

Another study, this one from the Arlington, Va.-based Consumer Electronics Association, says that U.S. technology users are shying away (but not throwing away) their laptop and desktop devices.

The CEA says that in homes that have a laptop, 43% of smartphone owners and 46% of tablet owners are “using them less.” But the group adds that “very few users” have shed their laptops, with only 1% of smartphone users and 2% of laptop users “stopping the use of their laptops altogether.”