Portable Growth: Consumers to Buy More Laptops and Tablets in Recovery

Sales of Internet tablets, like the iPad, and laptops are expected to jump in the next four years as the economy recovers, according to research firm In-Stat.Manufacturers of laptops and other mobile-computing devices stand to do well in the recovery, according to a report that In-Stat released Wednesday. The research firm projects that shipments of mobile-computing devices, including notebooks and tablets like Apple's (AAPL) iPad, will grow 19% annually over the next four years as more people buy tablet-type products.

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While In-Stat expects notebook computers will account for almost three-quarters of the mobile-computing devices shipped -- and more than half of the total computing market -- it forecasts that tablet sales will grow the most, with annual sales more than doubling in each of the next four years. Overall, manufacturers will ship more than 400 million notebooks and tablets in 2014, according to In-Stat, which projects that Asia Pacific will account for more than a third of the worldwide market by then.

The report spells good news for computer makers that have felt the effect of sluggish sales over the past couple of years. Investment bank UBS this week downgraded its Intel (INTC) and Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) ratings to neutral from buy, citing weak demand and concerns that the companies will have to cut prices to spur sales.

If the sales of these portable devices meet In-Stat's expectations, they will also help grow mobile-broadband subscriptions. Earlier this week, ABI Research forecast that approximately 1.5 billion people will subscribe to mobile broadband in 2015 as more Internet-surfing smartphone owners, iPad and laptop owners sign up.

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