Tablets are on the rise to almost outship all other PC form factors combined next year, according to the latest report from independent analyst firm Canalys.

Canalys projects that in 2014, tablets will account for almost 50 percent of the total PC market — which includes desktops, notebooks and tablets.

The popularity of tablets is helping to propel the growth of the worldwide client PC market, which grew 18 percent in the third quarter of 2013, despite desktop and notebook shipments continuing to decline. Tablets made up 40 percent of PC shipments during that period.

Canalys forecasts that 285 million tablets will ship in 2014, and this figure will grow to 396 million units in 2017.

Going forward, Canalys expects that Android-derived operating systems will be responsible for driving growth in the tablet market and are forecast to account for a 65 percent share in 2014 with 185 million units – even though Canalys notes that the launch of Apple’s iPad Air and new iPad Mini will help boost its position in the fourth quarter of this year.

In the second quarter of 2013, Google’s Android already dominated the tablet market with a 53 percent share, surpassing Apple’s iOS and its 43 percent slice.

Among the Android brands, Canalys says that Samsung is continuing to lead, and in the third quarter of 2013 it already had a 27 percent share of Android tablet shipments.

Yet Samsung is coming under pressure from hundreds of small-to-micro brand vendors. Shanghai-based analyst James Wang notes:

The rise of small-to-micro brand vendors has proved that there is a demand in for entry-level Android tablets in every country and in every region.

Vendors such as Acer, Asus, HP, and Lenovo have all entered the price war, with entry-level products at sub-$150 price points. With vastly different cost structures these vendors will continue to find it extremely challenging to keep pace with local competitors, especially in APAC and Latin America.

There’s good news for Microsoft though. Canalys projects that Microsoft will take 5 percent of the tablet PC market in 2014, up from just 2 percent in 2012 — but “a critical first step is to address the coexistence of Windows Phone and Windows RT.”

Headline image via Glenn Chapman/AFP/Getty Images