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lowers PC forecast
Gartner is lowering its PC
unit forecast for 2011 and 2012, based on expectations of weaker demand for
mobile consumer PCs. Worldwide PC shipments are forecast to reach 387.8
million units in 2011, a 10.5 per cent increase from 2010, according to
Gartner's preliminary forecast. This is down from Gartner's previous
projection of 15.9 per cent growth this year.
Gartner expects worldwide PC shipments to total 440.6 million units in 2012,
a 13.6 per cent increase from 2011. This is down from Gartner's previous
outlook of 14.8 per cent growth for 2012.
"These results reflect marked reductions in expected near-term unit growth
based on expectations of weaker consumer mobile PC demand, in no small part
because of the near-term weakness expected in China's mobile PC market, but
also because of a general loss in consumer enthusiasm for mobile PCs," said
Ranjit Atwal, research director at Gartner.
Gartner analysts said that consumer mobile PCs have been the dynamic growth
engine of the PC market over the past five years, averaging annual rates of
growth approaching 40 per cent. For much of this period, mobile PCs remained
consumers' platform of choice for bringing the Internet into their daily
lives. However, due to the spread of low-cost embedded Wi-Fi modules,
Internet access is now available through a multitude of mobile devices that
allow consumers to engage in virtually all their favourite online activities
without the need of a mobile PC.
"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 George Shiffler, research director at
"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. Overall, we now expect home mobile PCs to average
less than 10 per cent annual growth in mature markets from 2011 through
The professional market is expected to continue to exhibit double-digit
growth in 2011 and 2012, as aging PCs are replaced across all regions of the
world. "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.
The dramatic rise in the popularity of alternative devices and the
limitations of the PC are two of many dynamics that played a significant
role in Gartner's revised outlook for the PC industry.
Media tablets causing hesitation among potential PC buyers
Consumer enthusiasm for media tablets is a key factor in Gartner's forecast
that the consumer mobile PC market will remain weak in mature markets.
Consumer substitution of media tablets for mobile PCs already appears to be
impacting mobile PC shipments in mature markets. However, a bigger issue
seems to be that consumers are taking a "wait and see" attitude toward PCs
as they anticipate the arrival of new media tablets during the rest of 2011.
PCs' limitations are exposed
Not too long ago, PCs were a "fashion accessory" in mature markets with
vendors linking themselves to fashion designers and even creating PCs
specifically for women. The current "cool" device is the smartphone, and now
PCs will soon have to do battle with media tablets when they are launched in
large numbers in the second quarter of 2011. Up to now, the appeal of mobile
PCs has been their portability. But mainstream mobile PCs have not shed
sufficient weight, and do not offer the all-day battery life, to
substantiate their promise of real mobility. These limitations have become
all the more apparent with the rapid spread of social networking, which
thrives on constant and immediate connections. In short, all-day untethered
computing has yet to materialise, and that has exposed the "mobile" PC as
merely a transportable PC at best.
More information is available in the report "Forecast Alert: PC Forecast Is
Lowered as Consumers Diversify Computing Needs Across Devices," which can be
found on Gartner's website at http://www.gartner.com/resId=1558714.