Gartner cuts 2011 PC unit growth estimates as Apple iPad sales surge

Worldwide PC unit growth is projected to be slightly weaker in 2011 than the previous projection, according to Gartner, Inc.’s latest forecast. PC shipments are expected to grow 9.3 percent in 2011, reaching 385 million units. This is slightly lower than Gartner’s previous projection of 10.5 percent growth for this year.

Throughout much of the last decade, PC unit growth was powered by consumers. With consumers from mature markets maintaining a tight rein on their spending in response to continuing economic uncertainty, and a lack of compelling reasons for consumers in general to replace their PCs, PC unit growth has slowed and must once again rely on businesses to drive it.

“Consumer mobile PCs are no longer driving growth, because of sharply declining consumer interest in mini-notebooks [netbooks]. Mini-notebook shipments have noticeably contracted over the last several quarters, and this has substantially reduced overall mobile PC unit growth,” said Ranjit Atwal, research director at Gartner, in the press release. “Media tablets, such as the iPad, have also impacted mobile growth, but more because they have caused consumers to delay new mobile PC purchases rather than directly replacing aging mobile PCs with media tablets. We believe direct substitution of media tablets for mobile PCs will be minimal.”

PCs are transitioning from a one-size-fits-all computing platform to a more-specialized device, prized for its ability to complement other devices. “The PC market is experiencing dramatic structural changes,” added Atwal.” Moving forward, PCs will no longer be a market by themselves, but part of a larger device market that ranges from smart televisions to the most-basic-feature phones. Within this market, consumers and professionals will increasingly use the combination of devices that best suits their particular needs.”

Over the next 18 months, PC growth will be supported by healthy professional replacements. “Businesses sharply reduced replacements and extended PC lifetimes in response to the recession,” said Raphael Vasquez, research analyst at Gartner, in the press rleease. “Businesses have begun replacing aging PCs more vigorously. We expect the growing urgency for businesses to migrate away from Windows XP will drive significant professional replacements.”

Gartner has reduced expected 2011 Japanese PC unit growth to 2.4 percent in response to the March earthquake and tsunami. “Desk-based PC shipment growth has been significantly affected and business continuity plans are accelerating the shift to mobile PCs and alternate computing models,” said George Shiffler, research director at Gartner. “However, the impact of Japan’s twin disasters on worldwide PC shipment growth has been minor, and PC vendors have so far managed the threat of Japanese component disruptions.”

Source: Gartner, Inc.

MacDailyNews Take: When we were an agrarian nation, all cars were trucks because that’s what you needed on the farms… PCs are going to be like trucks… They are still going to be around…they are going to be one out of x people… This transformation is going to make some people uneasy…because the PC has taken us a long ways. It’s brilliant. We like to talk about the post-PC era, but when it really starts to happen, it’s uncomfortable.Apple CEO Steve Jobs, June 1, 2010

19 Comments

    1. And “media tablets” is such a grossly inaccurate term to begin with. How do nonsense terms like this become so commonly used?

      It’s like trying to pigeonhole the iPod touch by identifying it as merely a “handheld gaming device” – at least there, it’s an accurate description of *part* of what it can do. But neither that nor “media tablet” come close to encompassing all the roles iOS devices can serve.

  1. I must admit that the iPad 2 is an amazing piece of kit. I have the original iPad and thought that was good but put it side by side with an iPad 2 and the 2 blows the 1 out of the water. In particular the weight saving although on paper looks minute, when you actually hold it in your hands it feels a lot lighter and that’s significant if you do a lot of reading on the device for technical documents, charts and the like.

    I’m not surprised that demand is outstripping supply and that people are abandoning netbooks in favour of the iPad in droves. It really is a quantum leap in computing. The instant on is worth the price of admission all by itself.

  2. Japan had a triple disaster. 3 nuclear reactors melted down and through, worst nuclear catastrophe ever on planet Earth, and still ongoing, getting worse every day. Spent fuel pool #4 about to collapse, 5 + 6 lost cooling, whole place off the charts irradiating. Japan will have to be evacuated.

    1. This is a little note on Japan’s scale.

      After Atomic bomb’s dropped on Japan in the 40’s and there cities were leveled. They simply sweep up the debris, rebuilt the cities, and now everybody is going about their lives.

      Horrible? Yes. Stop Japan? No

    2. Japan will persevere. The Japanese people have acquitted themselves admirably in response to this disaster, and they will work their way through it. Any talk of evacuating the country is ludicrous.

    1. “…windows 8 is the real tablet”. I happened to open the english dictionary and you know what “real” is? real is “actually existing as a thing or occurring in fact; not imagined or supposed”.
      I did not know windows 8 tablet is existing at all…

    2. V-A-P-O-R-W-A-R-E! Can you spell that, WP7 Mango? How about C-O-U-R-I-E-R? Um, does “P-I-N-K” mean anything to you? (Let us just hope you were shooting for a tongue-in-cheek joke with your post . . . as are almost ALL things Microsoft, I believe you will agree.)

    1. So you do have other explanation as to why PCs are declining? O, I forgot, PCs are not declining. Because all are just PC in various form factors, adding up the tablet growth, PCs are actually raising. There’s no “Post PC” right?

  3. to: WP7 Mango
    You mean like a big ol’ thick tablet with lines on it and everything? And a nice thick pencil I can hold with both hands? Maybe MS is going to quit copying Apple and start copying Big Chief? Big Chief will probably work better. Longhorn/ Vista/ Windoz 7 took what? Eight years? You don’t even have to wait. Big Chief Tablets are available at the dollar stores.

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