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Tablets Put Chokehold on PC Sales

Tablets Put Chokehold on PC Sales
By Jennifer LeClaire

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Sales of PCs are slumping -- overtaken in popularity by mobile devices, including tablets. For enterprise IT managers, that means more of a focus than ever before is needed on mobile device management (MDM) and other solutions for dealing with the popular trend of BYOD, where you and fellow staffers bring your own device to work.
 


It’s not exactly a new prediction, but evidence of a post-PC era continues piling up. According to a new report from Gartner Inc., worldwide shipments of traditional PCs -- both desk-based and notebook -- are expected to dip 11.2 percent by the end of this year. What’s more, the market research firm expects the PC market, including ultramobiles, to decline 8.4 percent in 2013.

It seems mobile is killing the PC stars. Indeed, Gartner projects mobile phone shipments to grow 3.7 percent, with volume of more than 1.8 billion units. And tablet shipments are expected to grow a whopping 42.7 percent in 2013, with shipments reaching 184 million units.

"While consumers will be bombarded with ads for the new ultramobile devices, we expect their attention to be grabbed but not necessarily their money," said Carolina Milanesi, research vice president at Gartner. "Continuing on the trend we saw last year, we expect this holiday season to be all about smaller tablets as even the long-term holiday favorite -- the smartphone -- loses its appeal.”

Smaller is Better

Gartner reports that premium tablets are faced with continued price decline in the seven-inch form factor as a larger number of consumers prefer smaller form factors when it comes to content consumption.

A recent consumer study Gartner conducted in Brazil, China, France, Germany, Italy, the U.K., the U.S. and Japan confirmed Gartner's long-standing assumption that smaller is better when it comes to consumer tablets. The survey showed that the average screen sizes of the tablets in use across the countries ranged from 8.3 inches to 9.5 inches. Forty-seven percent of the 21,500 consumers surveyed owned a tablet that was 8 inches or smaller. But there is yet another factor emerging: hybrids.

"Although the preference is for dedicated devices, we see the opportunity for hybrid ultramobile to marry the functionality of a PC and the form factor of the tablet. Users that have to balance work and play will find that the advantage of buying and carrying one device outweighs the compromise in the full experience that single devices can deliver," said Ranjit Atwal, research director at Gartner. "Users who are not limited by their disposable income will likely have a basic tablet as a companion device to their ultramobile on which most of their consumption activities will take place."

The Microsoft-Nokia Impact

Microsoft's acquisition of Nokia doesn't have a major impact on the forecast, because Gartner already assumed that Nokia would have accounted for the vast majority of Windows Phone share throughout the forecast, with only minimal volume coming from other OEMs, such as HTC or Samsung. (continued...)

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