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Ultrabooks won't smash tablets, says analyst

Fondleslabs to be a bigger seller for years

Toshiba Portege Z830 Ultrabook

Ultrabooks will not outsell tablets, the next five years at least, though the new skinny laptop category will experience unit-shipment growth three times as fast as the tablet.

So says UK-based market watcher Juniper Research. It predicts that 178m Ultrabooks will ship in 2016, from just under 20m in 2012.

But the number of tablets flying out of factories in 2016 will be 253m.

Research company iSuppli reckons tablets will outsell regular notebooks by then.

Windows 8 will help drive Ultrabook demand, but the cost of Flash storage and of meeting Intel's specifications - it owns the Ultrabook trademark, and vendors can't use the name without agreeing to follow the chip giant's template - will initially make the products pricey.

And Windows 8 will target tablets too, courtesy of the OS' first-time support for ARM chips, though there will be plenty of Intel Atom-based Windows 8 slates out too.

Netbook shipments, Juniper reckons, will have fallen to a third of their current volume by 2016. DisplaySearch, another market watcher, expects 2011's netbook shipments to hit 25.2m units, so we're looking at shipments of around 8m units come 2016, if Juniper's prognosis is correct. ®

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