Market watcher Canalys has forecast that every 10 media slates bought by consumers and businesses this year will cannibalise sales of five notebooks or netbooks.
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The channel analyst estimates worldwide PC growth of 14% for 2011 with pad shipments accounting for much of this expansion, as traditional mobile computers rise modestly by 8% and the netbook category declines 13%.
Growing interest in the devices - pioneered by Apple's iPad - are throwing the PC refresh cycle into disorder as consumers extend existing hardware into the workplace, but the slate form factor could also disrupt buying patterns among businesses.
"The rise of the pad is phenomenal, said Daryl Chiam, principal analyst at Canalys, who added: "The number of affluent, highly-mobile executives buying pads will increase quickly in 2011."
"Likewise, vertical market adoption of pads, especially in healthcare and education, will gain momentum as more appropriate applications are built," he said.
As a result, the analyst warned there were ramifications for PC sales, a trend that will be prevalent in mature markets including UK.
"For every 10 pads sold this year, Canalys estimates that five netbook or notebook sales will be lost across both consumer and enterprise markets", it said.
The continued deployment of Windows 7-based professional PCs and improved confidence among businesses will push up notebook sales in the single digits but netbooks will remain in freefall, Canalys emphasised.
Consumer PC growth will be hampered in the first half of 2011 by a glut of inventory that spilt over from last year due to weaker-than-expected Christmas trading in the US, Western Europe and China.
Other factors shaping worldwide growth include the political upheaval in the Middle East, which has brought the regional market to a "virtual stop" and made forecasts difficult, as has the current crisis in Japan.