Growing sales of ultra-portables and Chromebooks will help to offset the drop in PC shipments.
This according to a report from analyst house ABI Research, which predicts that between 2015 and 2021, notebook shipments will remain steady as Chromebooks and ultraportables (tablet convertible notebooks) take up an increasing share of the market.
ABI projects that over those six years, tablet shipments will grow from 163 million to 169.1 million units shipped, as ultraportables grow from 27.1 to 41.2 million units and Chromebooks swell from 6.2 million to 11.6 million units shipped.
That growth will help to offset the blow to the traditional notebook PC space, where annual shipments are set to fall from 129.7 million units shipped in 2015 to just 116.3 million by 2021.
The transition will be explained, in part, by the dropping prices of convertible tablets. With prices falling, analysts believe, the 2-in-1 design will be seen less as a high-end niche market and more of an everyday PC. As users opt for the hybrid designs, traditional notebook sales will decline.
Thus, ABI says, PC sales will not decline as much as the definition of what we call a PC will change. At the same time, Google's push into the education space will continue, as more schools opt to arm their students with low-cost Chromebook units.
"Industry experts greatly exaggerated the death of the PC," said ABI Research director Jeff Orr.
"The platform is continuing to evolve its designs to provide flexibility for productivity purposes, while also adapting its shape to support tablet-like, touch applications."
While this shift towards portability would appear to bode well for ARM (advanced RISC machines) and its stable of chipmakers, ABI said that the growth in portable notebooks won't necessarily translate to the ARM platform. Orr notes that the lack of ARM support from Microsoft and Intel's stranglehold over the PC market will likely limit the prospects of ARM in the notebook space.
"With no Windows 10 desktop support for ARM processor architecture, only a handful of Chromebooks are using ARM-based processors in their designs," Orr said.
"As such, we do not expect ARM-based PCs to emerge during the forecast period." ®