Media tablets to outrun X86-based tablets -

Portable PCs face being squeezed by ARM-based "media tablets", according to a report by market research firm IDC.

IDC predicts that shipments of media tablets - which it defines as gizmos based on ARM processors and running lightweight operating systems like the Android and iPhone OS - will rise to 46 million units by 2014.

IDC expects 7.6 million media tablets to ship this year.

The growth between now and projected shipments in 2014 represents a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 57.4 percent. IDC thinks 398 million portable PCs will be shipped in 2014.

If IDC's predictions are correct, that will give Intel something of a headache. It wants to dominate the media tablet sector too, and recently released a Moorestown processor which it hopes will grab design wins. ARM-based designs are typically tiny and consume little power, a little like ARM's CEO, pictured here (not full size).

Media tablets, said IDC, will provide a broad range of applications and connectivity, making them different from single function devices like e-readers.  

While media tablets will start off being marketed as multifunction entertainment devices, IDC believes that there will be productivity applications for supporting both enterprise users and end users.