Tablets, led by the iPad, will cut increasingly into PC sales from this year onwards, according to the latest forecasts from the Gartner research firm.
While the chipmaker Intel has predicted tablets will expand the PC market, Gartner suggests Apple and Android tablets will displace around 10 per cent of other PC sales by 2014.
Gartner said on Monday worldwide PC shipments should grow 14.3 per cent in 2010 to 352.4m units, but that is down from its prediction of 19.2 per cent growth to 367.8m units made on August 31.
It predicts 15.9 per cent growth to 409m units in 2011, down from its earlier estimate of 18.1 per cent growth.
“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 per cent of PC units by 2014.”
Gartner describes media tablets as touchscreen devices running Android, Chrome or Apple’s iOS operating systems and does not include them in its PC figures. It does include tablets running Windows operating systems in its figures.
The research firm says the PC market will be weakened by disruptive forces such as media tablets and next-generation smartphones. Desktop PCs could be hit by adoption of computing in the cloud, with only thin-client “barebones” PCs or refurbished ones needed.
“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, another Gartner research director.
Emerging markets are providing growth, but there is a risk consumers there could leapfrog PCs for alternative devices, Gartner says.
To complete the gloom, the research firm says economic uncertainty is making consumers postpone purchases in mature markets and media tablets are “rapidly finding favour with PC buyers who are attracted to their more-dedicated entertainment-driven features and their instant-on capability.”