Tablet Growth Lowers Global PC Shipment Expectations

Researcher Gartner cuts forecast for worldwide PC shipments for 2010 and 2011, pointing to slowed user demand and rising tablet sales.

November 30, 2010

D.H. Kass

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A rapid uptick in user demand for media tablets such as Apple Computer Inc.’s iPad has pared the number of PCs that manufacturers will ship in 2010, according to researcher Gartner Inc.

The researcher downgraded its earlier prediction for worldwide PC shipments in 2010 to some 352 million units, still a 14.3 percent uptick from last year’s totals but 3.6 percent less growth than Gartner initially projected.

In addition, Gartner said that vendors will ship 409 million PCs next year, a 16 percent increase over the anticipated 2010 totals but about 2 percent less growth than the researcher’s earlier figures.

Gartner blamed lackluster demand for PCs and strong interest in media tablets for lowering not only its expectations for 2010 PC shipments but also its projections through 2014.

Indeed, the researcher said that media tablets could snip as much as 10 percent from the number of PCs manufacturers’ ship in the next five years.

“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, Gartner research director.

“Over the longer term, media tablets are expected to displace around 10 percent of PC units by 2014,” he said.

Multiple factors to impact PC shipment slowdown

Gartner said that the growth of media tablets will be chief among a number of factors impacting PC shipments in the next few years.

While consumers’ interest in buying home PCs is expected to flag considerably going forward, based, in part, on economic uncertainty, extended PC lifecycles and, by 2012, a newly emerging market for hosted virtual desktops, media tablets will be largely responsible for luring potential customers away from PCs, Gartner said.

“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, Gartner research analyst.

“These devices will be increasing embraced as complements if not substitutes for PCs where voice and light data consumption are desired,” he said.

“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.”

The researcher also said that it expects emerging markets will command more than 50 percent of global PC shipments by the end of 2011 as mature markets grapple with slowed demand.

“PCs are still seen as necessities, but the PC industry's inability to significantly innovate and its over-reliance on a business model predicated on driving volume through price declines are finally impacting the industry's ability to induce new replacement cycles,” said George Shiffler, Gartner research director.

TAGS: PC,tablet,Gartner,forecast,media tablet

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