Windows 8 is the first version of Microsoft's popular operating system that works well with touch. The technology has been promising, and many companies have vowed to make more products with touch screens. But so far, high pricing and low supply have limited the number of touch-based PCs on the market.
IHS said global shipments of notebooks equipped with touch screens should jump to 78 million units in 2016, up from 4.6 million in 2012. This year alone, it is projected that 24 million touch-based PCs will ship.
A big reason for that jump is declining touch-screen panel pricing. IHS expects displays to cost about $35 this year, compared to $60 to $70 in 2012.
"The $35 price will help spur widespread market acceptance, enabling the production of more affordable touchscreen mobile PCs," the tech research firm said.
The PC industry needs all the help it can get to spur demand. The first quarter of 2013 marked one of the worst periods for computer sales in recent memory. Tech research firms Gartner and IDC in April said PC shipments posted an ugly double-digit slump in the first three months of the year, the worst since IDC started tracking the figures in 1994. The period marked the fourth consecutive quarter of year-over-year shipments decline, and the market is expected to slump for all of 2013.
Many companies, including chipmaker Intel, have argued that touch-based devices will attract buyers to the PC market.