Death of the PC?

3/8/2011

It seems it’s no longer sufficient to have a desktop computer, or even a laptop. Consumers want access on the go; and as mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets become sleeker and more powerful, will they actually replace PCs?

Research firm, Gartner, www.gartner.com, suggests yes—connected devices are eating away at the market for personal computers. In fact, the firm just announced it is lowering its PC unit forecast for 2011 and 2012 because it expects a much weaker consumer demand in upcoming years.

According to Gartner’s preliminary forecast, worldwide PC shipments are still expected to reach 387.8 million units in 2011. While this number would be a 10.5% increase from 2010, the revised forecast is much less than Gartner’s previous growth projection number: 15.9%. Gartner also revised its 2012 numbers to reflect a less-aggressive growth rate.


As consumers diversify their computing needs across multiple devices, analysts believe these connected devices are redefining the PC’s place in the “computing universe.”

Devices such as Apple’s, www.apple.com, iPad, and the GALAXY Tab by Samsung, www.samsung.com, are a big part of this shift. The fact consumer enthusiasm is running high for these devices played a major factor in Gartner’s forecast.

The company says consumer substitution of media tablets for PCs already appears to be impacting mobile PC shipments in mature markets. Interestingly, even unreleased devices are playing a role by creating hesitation among potential PC buyers. Gartner says consumers are taking a “wait and see” approach as they anticipate the arrival of new tablets during 2011.

Traditionally, consumer mobile PCs have been a dynamic growth engine for the PC market, approaching a 40% annual growth rate during the past five years. But Gartner suggests the spread of low-cost embedded Wi-Fi modules has significantly weakened this demand by allowing the Internet to be accessible on a variety of mobile devices.

Unfortunately for the desktop and mobile PC, consumers want what’s “hot.” And right now, that’s tablets and smartphones. As these alternative computing devices gain market momentum and continue to become more powerful, it’s possible our personal computers will become a thing of the past.




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