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Gartner: Tablet PC sales will be slow

Microsoft will not see rapid take-up of the Tablet PC, despite Bill Gates' prediction that it will account for the majority of PC sales within five years, according to research company Gartner Dataquest.

Tablet PC shipments are projected to reach 425,000 units, just 1.25% of worldwide notebook shipments in 2003, Dataquest said.

Microsoft has put considerable muscle behind the Tablet PC device and the pen-based operating system, Windows XP Tablet PC Edition, that will power the new device.

However, Gartner predicted that the high price of devices, coupled with a lack of application support and clumsy hardware designs, would keep all but the most bleeding-edge technology users from becoming early adopters of the product.

The Tablet PC will appeal to businesses in vertical industries that already use applications with pen-based tablets, but even those most interested in the device will choose to evaluate one to 10 Tablet PCs for between six to nine months before deciding to make any volume purchases, the analyst group said.

Interest will slowly begin to turn to Tablet PC sales and by 2007; at least 35% of all notebooks sold will have screen digitisers with a convertible or separable keyboard design, Gartner said.

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