updated 11:15 am EST, Thu March 3, 2011
Gartner drops PC estimates after iPad 2 event
Analysts at Gartner lowered their expectations for PCs on Thursday in the immediate aftermath of the iPad 2. The group now expects PC shipments to hit 440.6 million in 2012, still a 13.6 percent bump from what's expected this year but down from the previously predicted 14.8 percent. Tablets like the iPad and Xoom are now more likely to "dramatically slow" notebooks and would not only prevent buying secondary notebooks but lead some to skip getting a notebook altogether, research lead George Shiffler said.
A slump in China's notebook market played a part, but a "general loss in consumer enthusiasm" for notebooks was the main factor, Gartner's Ranjit Atwal made clear. Some of the slowdown may have come from customers who hadn't committed to a tablet but didn't want to buy either a notebook or a tablet until they knew what to expect. The iPad 2 is the most likely determinant since most of the tablets for the year have already been unveiled in advance, sometimes by several months.
The analyst firm believed that notebooks were falling out of favor since their engineering hadn't caught up with tablets. They weren't light or as long-lasting as tablets to be as desirable for mobile use, a problem which became more apparent the more often people wanted always-on apps and services. "All-day untethered computing has yet to materialize, and that has exposed the
'mobile' PC as merely a transportable PC at best," Gartner explained.
If accurate, the projection would be the most damaging to Microsoft. It profited from the netbook trend in the past three years but has had to reconcile both the end of the now short-term trend with the arrival of tablets running mobile operating systems. The iPad, and to a small degree the Galaxy Tab, have dragged Windows PC sales down as customers who simply wanted a device for e-mail, casual games and the web have opted for iOS or Android instead of a bigger, heavier and shorter-lived PC.