In a few years, consumers will be more likely to access Internet content through their TVs than their personal computers.
That's the conclusion of research firm IHS iSuppli, which projects that worldwide shipments of Internet-enabled consumer electronics devices -- including TVs, game consoles, Blu-Ray Disc players, set-tops and media tablets -- will exceed PCs for the first time in 2013.
The connected-device category will grow threefold from 2010 to 2013, from 161 million last year to 503.6 million units in 2013, the firm predicted. By comparison, PC shipments grow from 222.3 million to 253.3 million over the same time period.
"These new figures are the latest evidence that the Internet is not just for PCs anymore," IHS principal analyst for consumer platforms Jordan Selburn said. "In the future, consumers will be more likely to access the Internet through their televisions than via their PCs."
The latest report presents a more bullish outlook than iSuppli (since acquired by IHS) had forecast in 2009, when it projected 376.5 million connected devices shipping by 2013.
In 2015, shipments of Internet-enabled consumer devices will be 780.8 million units, well above PC shipments of 479.1 million.
IHS excludes PCs and smartphones -- which are tracked separately as data processing and wireless communications equipment, respectively -- from the Internet-enabled consumer electronics devices category. Although IHS designates tablets as wireless devices, the firm included them in the Internet-enabled consumer electronics category "because of the key role they are playing in the market for the connected home."
Media tablets are projected to become the fastest-growing subcategory, driven by Apple's iPad, IHS said. Tablets are set to grab the top spot in 2011 with projected shipments of 61.9 million, up 214% from 19.7 million last year.
By 2015, more than 300 million media tablets will ship -- a 15-fold increase greater from 2010, yielding a five-year compound annual growth rate of 73.3%.
IHS expects other Internet-enabled devices that will grow rapidly in the next few years will be Blu-ray players (with a CAGR of 37.9% over 2010-15) and set-top boxes.