Notebook PC devices have enjoyed a surprising surge in popularity, with sales of the devices exceeding expectations while tablet shipments continued to fall.

According to market research firm TrendForce, notebook sales rose by 2.1 per cent during 2017 – three times the growth previously predicted.

Analysts said the sector was boosted by the North American market, with US vendors HP and Apple playing key roles.

“The global notebook market has benefited from biddings for notebook contracts in North America and regional economic recovery,” explained Kou-Han Tseng, TrendForce notebook analyst.

Notebook PC sales rise

HP’s shipments reached 40 million units alone, a huge increase of 10.5 per cent year-on year. This meant the firm retained its position as the world’s largest notebook manufacturer with 24.3 per cent, ahead of Lenovo, whose sales fell 4.9 per cent, which is second on 20.2 per cent.

Dell benefited from US government contracts and sales of its Chromebooks to secure third position, head of Apple, whose sales increased 18 per cent – the largest of any manufacturer – thanks to the new MacBook Pro. Asus’s share fell to 9.5 per cent, ahead of Acer, which controls eight per cent of the market.

Although PC sales have fallen in recent years due to longer refresh recycles and competition from mobile devices, the new figures should be a cause for optimism for the industry, especially with the prospect of ‘Always Connected’ Windows 10 PCs, powered by LTE and ARM processors, on the horizon.

Such devices could represent a significant opportunity for mobile operators who will be able to offer constant connectivity to cloud services.

Meanwhile, a separate report from IDC shows tablet sales fell by 6.5 over the past 12 months to 141.7 million units. It said that ‘slate’ tablets had largely been relegated to entertainment devices rather than productivity machines.

Indeed, it said the fact that demand for ‘detachable’ or ‘2-in-1’ tablets rose by 1.6 percent in 2017 is evidence of this, adding that the main reason the segment did not achieve the 24 percent growth rate recorded in 2016 was because customers were waiting for new technology, such as a Microsoft Surface upgrade.