Tablet computers are expected to overtake notebook PCs by 2016 as consumers shift to newer devices like the Apple iPad, a survey said Tuesday.
The survey by research firm NPD said tablets will be "the growth driver" for the mobile computer market over the next few years.
Overall mobile PC shipments including tablets will grow from 347 million in 2012 to over 809 million by 2017.
Notebook PC shipments are expected to increase from 208 million in 2012 to 393 million by 2017, but tablet shipments are expected to grow from 121 million to 416 million in the same period.
A key driver for tablet growth is adoption in North America, Japan and Western Europe, which will account for 66 percent of shipments in 2012 and remain in the 60 percent range throughout the next few years, NPD said.
"Consumer preference for mobile computing devices is shifting from notebook to tablet PCs, particularly in mature markets," said Richard Shim, analyst at NPD.
"While the lines between tablet and notebook PCs are blurring, we expect mature markets to be the primary regions for tablet PC adoption. New entrants are tending to launch their initial products in mature markets. Services and infrastructure needed to create compelling new usage models are often better established in mature markets."
In its most recent quarterly survey on mobile devices, NPD said in May that Apple's iPad had 62.8 percent of the tablet market, with Samsung a distant second at 7.5 percent.
Since then Google said it would sell its own branded tablet made by Asus, while Microsoft introduced a tablet that converts to a notebook, to be on sale later this year.