x86 will find its feet in tablets – eventually

The world and its dog prefers ARM architecture right now, it’s true, but analysts expect the x86 to edge its way into the tablet market in 2013.

DisplaySearch’s beancounters have drummed up a set of statistics published in the new Tablet Quarterly report. They think that tablets are in it for the long haul, with global shipments expected to hit 330 million by 2017, which we admit is looking rather far ahead. If so, that would be up from under 60 million units in 2011, DisplaySearch says. Actually, the figure is 59.9 million, which is a growth of 211 percent units shipped from last year. 

Tablets and notebooks will act as Yin and Yang in the mobile computing segment. Richard Shim, a senior analyst, said “each product category will influence the other over time – still, the incumbent platforms have inherent advantages in the early years.”

When Windows 8 tips up, it’ll be ready to make inroads in the mobile PC market, but won’t grow enough to take a significant share of the market until 2013, the analyst house reckons. 

If the 2013 prediction rings true, 2012 would be yet another year Intel has missed out on mobile, but its CEO in Otellini has said that there are plans in motion to steal that share away.  An Intel spokesperson recently suggested to us, it’s not about being the first to market, it’s about being the best in the market. Either way, it’s clear which camp the soothsayers are betting on, with ARM penned in for the stronger position, as the graph below shows. 

Displaysearch expects that Apple will face some real challenges in the tablet market. Amazon, for example, is shaking up the egosystem with its new Kindle, which is introducing “even more non-Windows and non-x86 thinking”, meaning Microsoft and Intel need to do their best to catch up.

Regular PCs will probably not become too adventurous and stick with Windows and x86, though there will be some to try out ARM’s options.

The analysts gave no nod to the Ultrabook – probably because no one’s quite sure what the Ultrabook is going to become, yet.