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Gartner: Tablets Expected To Slow PC Sales

Research firm Gartner Inc. slashed its forecast for worldwide PC shipments for the second quarter in a row.

The growing popularity of tablets and other Internet-enabled consumer devices will slow the demand for PCs, according to Gartner's announcement on Thursday. Gartner now expects total 2011 PC shipments to overtake 2010's shipments by 10.5 percent. However, that figure is down from Gartner's 15.9 percent estimate projected last November.

Gartner also lowered its forecast for next year. Worldwide PC shipments in 2012 will be 13.6 percent higher than in 2011, which is down from Gartner's previous projection of 14.8 percent.

Based on its adjusted projections, Gartner expects total worldwide PC shipments to be 387.8 million units in 2011 and 440.6 million units in 2012.

Mobile device sales have represented the bulwark of the overall PC market for consumers, and notebooks were the product of choice. However, mobile PCs are taking a hit as the range of consumer devices with built-in Internet capabilities, particularly tablets, has grown, according to Gartner.

"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," said Gartner research director George Shiffler in a press release. Shiffler expects consumers to keep their existing PCs for a longer time, and purchase tablets and other Internet-enabled alternatives as their primary mobile computing devices.

PC sales to enterprises will see some hits from tablets as well. Worldwide enterprise PC sales are expected to grow at a double-digit pace through 2012, fueled by companies' needs to replace aging units. "However, even in the professional market, media tablets are being considered as PC substitutes, likely at least delaying some PC replacements," said Raphael Vasquez, senior research analyst at Gartner, in the release.

Mobile PC growth has also been hampered by the devices simply not being mobile enough, according to Gartner. Today's notebooks are not substantially lighter than earlier versions, and their limited battery life puts them at a disadvantage in the current age of all-day connectivity.

"These limitations have become all the more apparent with the rapid spread of social networking, which thrives on constant and immediate connections," Gartner explained.

About the Author

Gladys Rama is the senior site producer for Redmondmag.com, RCPmag.com and MCPmag.com.

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