The change in device type reflects a change in operating system dominance. Gartner has Android currently in first place in terms of the number of devices on which it's running: 891 million, rising to 1.5 billion in 2017. Windows, in all its flavors combined, stays in second, most of its growth attributed to Windows 8 mobile devices and Windows Phone. Apple's iOS and OS X platforms are third, rising from 293 million units total this year, to 504 million in 2017, most on expected growth in its iPhone and iPad lines. BlackBerry (still labeled "RIM" in Gartner's chart), grows slightly this year, to 31 million units, but Gartner forecasts a future, to 24 million units in 2017.
In the shares of operating systems (OSs) in device sales, the shift to mobile and the fight for the third ecosystem becomes more evident; Android continues to be the dominant OS in the device market, buoyed by strong growth in the smartphone market. Competition for the second spot will be between Apple's iOS/Mac OS and Microsoft Windows.
Tablets are not the only device type that is seeing aggressive price erosion; smartphones are also becoming more affordable, driving adoption in emerging markets and the prepay segment in mature markets. Of the 1.875 billion mobile phones to be sold in 2013, 1 billion units will be smartphones, compared with 675 million units in 2012.
"The trend toward smartphones and tablets will have much wider implications than hardware displacement," said Milanesi. "Software and chipset architecture are also impacted by this shift as consumers embrace apps and personal cloud."
John Cox covers wireless networking and mobile computing for Network World. Twitter: @johnwcoxnww Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Read more about anti-malware in Network World's Anti-malware section.