Reflecting shifts in both the competitive landscape and consumer demand, the tablet market is poised to accommodate new form factors and accessory options that will bring these devices closer to the capabilities of notebooks, according to a new report from The NPD Group’s Connected Intelligence. The report, “Tablets: Resizing the Smartphone, Redefining the Notebook,” examines the impact of upcoming competitors to Apple’s iPad (including Android 4.0 and Windows 8), competition versus ultrabooks, accessory options, and implications of the growing tablet market for wireless carriers, cable operators, and content providers.

While the introduction of Windows 8 tablets later in 2012 will not steal significant share from the notebook market, according to NPD, it will be a strong factor behind the blurring of PCs and tablets. Many Windows 8 tablets stand to have larger screen sizes and some will have the ability to function as a full PC, causing PC vendors to rethink some marketing and sales strategies.

“PC vendors must balance the opportunity to sell an integrated Windows 8 device that can potentially operate in both tablet and clamshell form factors with the opportunity to sell secondary companion tablet devices that may be smaller and less expensive,” said Ross Rubin, executive director of NPD Connected Intelligence. “Among consumers who are looking to purchase a new tablet, screen size and keyboards, two main components of a PC, are important characteristics for these future purchases.”

According to the report, 40 percent of tablet purchase intenders who have a screen size in mind would prefer a screen smaller than 10 inches. Access to a physical keyboard is desired by 40 percent of consumers who plan to purchase a tablet. Of that 40 percent, most prefer an integrated keyboard over a detachable or docking keyboard.

“This data point is among those ‘interested in owning a tablet.’ They don’t currently own a tablet, but they indicate being extremely, very or somewhat interested in owning the device,” NPD Group’s Sarah Bogaty told us via email.

Source: The NPD Group, Inc.

MacDailyNews Take: Yes, and in 1915, 40% of non-automobile owners still thought they needed buggy whips.

Non-tablet owners have little or no idea what they need in a tablet. The more iPads that get out in the world, the better, as people will try them and find out that, no, they really don’t need an integrated physical keyboard. In the next year that 40% figure will decrease significantly. Then, the compnaies that prey on ignorance with junky hybrid tablet/convertible laptops will lose another sales tool.

(If you do find you need a keyboard for your iPad sometimes, then simply get a ZAGGfolio or something similar from numerous other companies.)

It’s really hard to design products by focus groups. A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them. – Steve Jobs

If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses. – Henry Ford