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Smartphone and tablet sales to lower PC upgrades

Analysts forecast smaller market with little incentive for upgrading
Thu Apr 04 2013, 15:16

ANALYST OUTFIT Gartner has forecast that mobile phones and tablets will reduce consumer demand to upgrade their PCs.

Gartner's latest forecast of smartphone and tablet sales holds relatively few surprises, in that the firm notes the decline of PC sales and the growth of smartphone and tablet sales. However, Gartner claimed that mobile phones and tablets will not only take immediate sales away from PCs but that they will diminish the need for consumers to upgrade their PCs in the future.

Mobile phone shipments will increase to 2.1 billion units in 2017, a 22 According to Gartner's figures, PC shipments will fall annually for the next four years to 271 million units in 2017. Conversely the firm claims that percent increase over Gartner's 2012 figures.

While mobile phone shipments will increase steadily, tablet shipments will balloon to 467 million units, Gartner predicted, a 300 percent increase over 2012 figures. And it seems that Gartner believes tablets in particular will make users less dependant on desktop and laptop PCs.

Gartner research VP Carolina Milanesi said, "While there will be some individuals who retain both a personal PC and a tablet, especially those who use either or both for work and play, most will be satisfied with the experience they get from a tablet as their main computing device.

"As consumers shift their time away from their PC to tablets and smartphones, they will no longer see their PC as a device that they need to replace on a regular basis."

Gartner cited falling tablet prices as a major reason for its forecast of higher shipments, and given that desktop and laptop prices stablised years ago, it seems that white-box PC sellers will have to think up new ways to sell machines.

What Gartner didn't say is that PC component manufacturers are having a hard time justifying new products to consumers. For most consumers, especially those that make use of tablets and smartphones for content consumption and whose idea of content creation is uploading badly taken pictures to Instagram, any processor, graphics card or hard drive sold in the last three years is good enough.

Milanesi did hint at a shift to software and chipsets as the information technology industry becomes increasingly more dependant on smartphones and tablets rather than PCs.

She said, "The trend towards smartphones and tablets will have much wider implications than hardware displacement. Software and chipset architecture are also impacted by this shift as consumers embrace apps and personal cloud."

The only good news for firms such as AMD and Intel is that Gartner forecast devices running Windows will increase to 570 million in 2017, a 65 percent increase from 2012 shipments. Not surprisingly, Gartner's forecasts for Android and iOS are much higher, predicting more than 300 percent and 100 percent increases, respectively.

Gartner's figures generally make for grim reading for firms that are heavily invested in the PC industry. Not only do the firm's figures show that the market is shrinking, it believes that existing PC users will find even fewer reasons to upgrade their machines in the future. µ


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