Gartner says PC shipments to slow to 3.8 percent growth in 2011 due to economy, iPad

Worldwide PC unit growth is on pace to total 352 million units in 2011, a 3.8 percent increase from 2010, according to the latest preliminary forecast by Gartner, Inc. PC shipments are forecast to see better growth by the end 2012, when units are expected to reach 404 million units, a 10.9 percent increase from 2011.

PC unit growth for both 2011 and 2012 has been reduced from previous projections: From 9.3 percent growth for 2011 and from 12.8 percent growth for 2012. The notably lower outlook for 2011 PC growth is largely due to sharply downgraded forecasts for Western Europe and the United States in the second half of the year. The lower outlook for 2012 is the result of a weaker 2011, and also a slower start to 2012 — with an expectation for better growth in the second half of next year as economies stabilize and new mobile PC form factors enter the market. Even so, the slowdown in the market is notable: Total unit shipments in 2012 are expected to barely reach 400 million units, which was originally a target for 2011.

“Western Europe is not only struggling through excess PC inventory, but economic upheaval as well,” said Ranjit Atwal, research director at Gartner, in the press release. “U.S. consumer PC shipments were much weaker than expected in the second quarter, and indications are that back-to-school PC sales are disappointing. An increasing pessimistic economic outlook is causing both consumer and business sentiment to deteriorate in both regions. We’re expecting consumer spending to tighten in response. Business spending will also tighten, but less than the consumer space.”

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Gartner analysts said that while PCs remain important to consumers and businesses, purchases can be easily delayed, especially when there are complementary devices that are seen to be more attractive.

“More worrisome for the long term is that Generation Y has an altogether different view of client devices than older generations and are not buying PCs as their first, or necessarily main, device,” Mr. Atwal said. “For older buyers, today’s PCs are not a particularly compelling product, so they continue to extend lifetimes, as PC shops and IT departments repair rather than replace these systems.”

“Media tablets have dramatically changed the dynamic of the PC market and HP’s decision to rethink its PC strategy simply highlights the pressure that PC vendors are under to adapt to the new dynamic or abandon the market,” said George Shiffler, research director at Gartner, in the press release. “Vendors’ tried and true business models are failing as traditional PC functionality is extended to other devices, and users continue to lengthen PC lifetimes. Vendors only seem to be flailing as they look for quick fixes to their problems. Unfortunately, the resulting chaos is just creating more confusion across the entire PC supply chain, impacting sell-in.”

Note: Gartner’s PC forecast does not include media tablets, which are forecast separately.

Additional analysis is available in the Gartner on Demand webinar “Gartner PC and Media Tablet Forecast Update, 3Q 2011.” The webinar is available a href=”” target=”_blank”>here.

Source: Gartner, Inc.


  1. Because of iPad? Seriously? I mean maybe I went to bed with my iPad sending email and watching reruns of Dragnet, and reading an article or two, and finally tuning in a local radio show, and maybe I’ve been using it since I woke up, responding to more email, texts, and reading, and now commenting on this post, but take the place of my… my uh… What was it going to take the place of again?

  2. In reality the only people making money in the PC market are Intel and Ballmer’s mother. The rest of the me-too manufacturers are squeezed between Acer and Asus on the low end and the company bearing the fruit logo on the high end. The turning point in the PC market is that people are now buying MacBook Airs in droves to run Windows simply because no better options exist in the ultra notebook segment. As people migrate towards ultra mobility, the MBA and the iPad will eat this market up alive, leaving the fruit company with the majority of profits.

  3. Media tablets? Really? There are not such devices. There is an iPad market and nothing else. I am tired of these writers who refuse to recognize that there are no competitors for the iPad and beat about the bush with this stupid ‘media tablet’ moniker.

    1. Agreed! They hope for an iPad killer that they have no clue about. HP even said that they were stepping out of the tablet and PC market. Yet hope hope hope.

      They don’t even see that Apple’s Mac growth and market share is eating up all of that “3.8 percent increase”. (Do the math idiots.) Non OS X computers have a NEGATIVE GROWTH NOW! That is all Apple’s Mac growth. The PC box makers are scavenging for low or no profit sales in a dead end Microsoft OS market taking and losing sales from each other’s totals. It is a shrinking share of the computer market. Hopeful clueless idiots!

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