Apple's iPad, other tablets, clobber PC market

Gartner lowers PC sales forecast for 2011 and 2012, blames tablets

Even as Apple was taking the wraps off the new iPad 2, one analyst firm was reporting that tablets are wreaking havoc on the PC market.

With tablets like the highly popular iPad and now the iPad 2, in the market, consumers are apparently losing interest in laptops, according to analysts at Gartner.

Tablets are expected to have a large enough effect on the PC market that Gartner lowered its PC sales forecast for both 2011 and 2012.

According to a Gartner report made public today, global PC shipments are expected to hit 387.8 million units this year. That's a 10.5% increase from 2010, but it's down from Gartner's previous projection of 15.9% growth this year.

"We expect growing consumer enthusiasm for mobile PC alternatives, such as the iPad and other media tablets, to dramatically slow home mobile PC sales, especially in mature markets," George Shiffler, research director at Gartner, said in a statement. "We once thought that mobile PC growth would continue to be sustained by consumers buying second and third mobile PCs as personal devices. However, we now believe that consumers are not only likely to forgo additional mobile PC buys but are also likely to extend the lifetimes of the mobile PCs they retain as they adopt media tablets and other mobile PC alternatives as their primary mobile device."

Laptops have been a main driver of growth in the PC market for the past five years, averaging annual growth rates of nearly 40%, Gartner noted.

But the laptop isn't the big seller it once was, a market change that was reflected in fourth-quarter PC sales.

In January, analyst firm IDC reported that worldwide PC shipments were slower than expected during the fourth quarter of 2010 because of competition from tablets and a slowdown in consumer spending.

Similarly, Gartner analysts also reported that fourth quarter PC sales were down and laid a lot of the blame at the feet of a burgeoning tablet business.

Sharon Gaudin covers the Internet and Web 2.0, emerging technologies, and desktop and laptop chips for Computerworld. Follow Sharon on Twitter at @sgaudin or subscribe to Sharon's RSS feed . Her e-mail address is sgaudin@computerworld.com.

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