Market researcher Gartner reckons worldwide PC shipments will grow by 14.3 percent this year. That's not bad, but it still represents a significant lowering of its September forecast of 17.9 percent growth. The projected growth of 15.9 percent for next year is also lower than the 18.1 percent previously forecast.
"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, research director at Gartner. "Over the longer term, media tablets are expected to displace around 10 percent of PC units by 2014."
Clearly Gartner thinks media tablets are a real and growing factor in the PC market, and that some consumers are choosing them in favour of PCs. "PC market growth will be impacted by devices that enable better on-the-go content consumption such as media tablets and next-generation smartphones," said Raphael Vasquez, research analyst at Gartner.
"These devices will be increasing embraced as complements if not substitutes for PCs where voice and light data consumption are desired. It is likely that desk-based PCs will be adversely impacted over the long-term by the adoption of hosted virtual desktops, which can readily use other devices like thin clients."
Yet another Gartner dude had further bad news for the PC industry. "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.
"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."
On top of all that, there's the still-dodgy global economy. To hammer the point home, Gartner summarised the five dynamics challenging the PC industry, the first four of which are directly influenced by tablets:
- Emerging Markets Continue to Drive Growth
- Consumer Wallet Continues to Shrink
- Challenge of Emerging Devices
- Extended Life Cycle Impact
- Uptake of Thin Clients