PC Sales Forecast Cut Further as Tablet Market Grows, Gartner

By Leah Gabriel Nurik  |  Print this article Print

While the PC market is expected to grow year over year in 2011, Gartner cut its growth expectation as enduring economic hardship continues for both consumers and business and uncertainty looms around whether tablets such as Apple's iPad will cannibalize PCs.

Analyst firm Gartner announced revised lower estimates for the worldwide PC shipment market for 2010 and 2011, and pointed to several factors slowing PC market growth, including increased tablet/iPad popularity and enduring economic hardship for both consumers and businesses.

According to a recent press release, 2010’s worldwide PC shipments are on pace to total 352.4 million units—that is a 14.3 increase from 2009, but falls short of the originally anticipated 17.9 percent growth rate. In 2011, Gartner anticipates PC shipments to reach 409 million units—a 15.9 percent increase over this year, but revised from the originally anticipated 18.1 percent growth rate.

A number of factors are responsible for the slowing rate of growth, according to Gartner, including the popularity of media tablets like the iPad, which the firm anticipates will displace around 10 percent of the PC market by 2014.

"PCs are still seen as necessities, but the PC industry's inability to significantly innovate and its overreliance 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, research director at Gartner.

Other factors challenging the PC market identified by the analyst firm included:

  • Emerging market consumers not as hard hit by the economic slowdown may leapfrog PCs entirely and, instead, opt for media tablets or other devices.
  • U.S. and Western European consumers continue to postpone PC purchases because of financial and economic uncertainty.
  • Media tablets and emerging devices will continue to evolve and lure consumers away from the traditional PC.
  • Consumers using multiple devices will be able to extend the PC lifecycle, not needing to replace devices as often.
  • As adoption of hosted virtual desktops (HVDs) increases, users will rely on thin clients and refurbished PC units to access HVDs, causing a decrease in desk-based shipment growth.


What’s the future hold for the PC market?

Shiffler says, "As the PC market slows, vendors that differentiate themselves through services and technology innovation rather than unit volume and price will dictate the future. Even then, leading vendors will be challenged to keep PCs from losing the device 'limelight’ to more innovative products that offer better dedicated compute capabilities."