Tablets expected to clobber PC sales in 2011

Apple iPad and other tablets are already hitting global PC sales, says Gartner

Move over PC. The Apple iPad and other tablet devices are turning quite a few heads and chipping away at your business.

Gartner on Monday said it has cut its forecast for global PC shipments in 2011, largely due to growing popularity of tablets, like the popular iPad, which are diverting traditional PC sales.

Gartner is now projecting that 352.4 million PCs will ship this year, 14.3 per cent more than 2009. Gartner had previosuly projected that 2010 PC shipments would increase by 17.9 per cent.

"These results reflect marked reductions in expected near-term unit growth based on expectations of weaker consumer demand, due in no small part to growing user interest in media tablets such as the iPad," said Ranjit Atwal, a Gartner research direct, in a statement. "Over the longer term, media tablets are expected to displace around 10 per cent of PC units by 2014."

And while George Shiffler, another research director at Gartner, said that PCs will remain a business necessity, market growth will continue to decline -- not only due to tablets.

With the economy still in flux, consumers and businesses remain hesitant to spend money. Weak employment gains and a "cloudy economic outlook" are keeping purse strings pulled tight, Gartner said.

And with little money to spend on computing devices, consumers and enterprises are more likely to turn to a mobile alternative like tablets or smartphones rather than a traditional PC.

"PC market growth will be impacted by devices that enable better on-the-go content consumption, such as media tablets and next-generation smartphones," said Raphael Vasquez, a research analyst at Gartner, in a statement.

"These devices will be increasingly embraced as complements if not substitutes for PCs where voice and light data consumption are desired. It is likely that desk-based PCs will be adversely impacted over the long-term by the adoption of hosted virtual desktops, which can readily use other devices like thin clients," he added.

Gartner's predictions follow last month's iSuppli projection that worldwide chip sales growth will slow in 2011.

According to iSuppli, lingering economic woes are expected to continue to curtail consumer and enterprise buying.

iSuppli is predicting that global semiconductor revenue in 2011 should reach $317.4 billion, up a modest 5.1 per cent from $302.0 billion projected for this year. That's a dramatic drop from a 32 per cent uptick this year.

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Sharon Gaudin

Computerworld (US)
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