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PC sales slow as IT buyers turn to tablets and smartphones

Jenny Williams

Global PC shipments for 2010 fell short of expectations due to delayed purchases and competition from mobile devices, according to Gartner.

The analyst firm's latest report predicts that worldwide PC shipments will reach 352.4 million units in 2010, an increase of 14.3% from 2009 but down on previous predictions of 17.9% growth this year.

Gartner said the adoption of mobile devices, such as iPad-style tablets and next-generation smartphones, as well as the uncertain economic climate were to blame, as businesses refrained from buying PCs.

"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.

Atwal said users are likely to slow PC replacements in the future and extend PC lifetimes as they turn to other devices for primary computing platforms. "Over the longer term, media tablets are expected to displace around 10% of PC units by 2014," he said.

Raphael Vasquez, research analyst at Gartner, added that mobile devices could also replace PCs where voice and low data-consumption is required. "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," he said.

Gartner predicted global PC shipments will reach 409 million units in 2011, an increase of 15.9% from this year.

PC manufacturer Acer has revealed plans to become the biggest global computer manufacturer next year, knocking rival Hewlett-Packard off the top spot.


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