Research Firms Trim PC Sales Forecasts in Face of iPad Strength

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Research firm Gartner today announced that it is reducing its worldwide PC shipment estimates for 2010 and 2011 from earlier levels, citing increasing strength of media tablets such as the iPad. Gartner predicts that worldwide PC shipments will reach 352.4 million this year, an increase of 14.3% over last year but down from the 17.9% increase that had been predicted just two months ago. Similarly, 2011 shipments are now predicted to see 15.9% growth to 409 million units, down from 18.1% growth predicted previously.

"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. "Over the longer term, media tablets are expected to displace around 10 percent of PC units by 2014."

The report notes that tablets such as the iPad offer improved "on-the-go content consumption" and sees consumers looking to the devices as complements or even alternatives to traditional PCs. Even those customers who opt to use tablet as complements to traditional PCs are seen as likely to extend the replacement cycles of their existing computers as they embrace tablet technology, slowing growth in PC sales.

Barron's reports that other research firms have reached similar conclusions, with Citigroup reporting that booming tablet sales will result in approximately 11 million fewer PCs sold next year than would otherwise have been expected. Overall, Citigroup predicts 2011 tablet sales of about 35 million units, with Apple's iPad representing about 75% of that total.

Other analysts are predicting an even bigger bite from tablets, with some claiming overall tablet sales in the range of 70-100 million next year, with one PC unit sale estimated to be lost from every 2.5 tablet units sold.

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