Market research firm Gartner Inc. now expects shipments of traditional PCs to decline a whopping 11 percent in 2013. Tablet shipments are projected to increase by 68 percent, according to the firm.
Combined shipments of traditional desktop and notebook PCs are set to fall to 305 million units this year, according to Gartner, down from 341 million units last year. Overall shipments of PCs—including ultramobiles—are expected to decline by 7 percent this year to 325 million, according to Gartner.
Meanwhile, combined shipments of PCs, tablets and mobile phones are projected to grow by 6 percent to reach 2.35 billion units, Gartner said.
The revised Gartner forecast for PC shipments is another nail in the coffin of the traditional desktop and notebook PC. Increasingly, consumers are opting for tablets and smartphones and—to a lesser extent—ultramobile PCs will Intel's Ultrabook—at the expense of old school PCs.
"Consumers want anytime-anywhere computing that allows them to consume and create content with ease, but also share and access that content from a different portfolio of products," said Carolina Milanesi, research vice president at Gartner. "Mobility is paramount in both mature and emerging markets."
Gartner (Stamford, Conn.) attributed the sharp decline in first quarter PC sales not only to changes in in consumers’ wants and needs, but also an adjustment in the channel to make room for new products hitting the market in the second half of 2013.
Demand for ultramobiles (which includes Chromebooks, thin and light clamshell designs, and slate and hybrid devices running Windows 8) will come from upgrades of both notebooks and premium tablets, such as the Apple iPad or Galaxy Tab10.1, Gartner said. Analysts said ultramobile devices are gaining in attractiveness and drawing demand away from other devices. This will be even more evident in the fourth quarter of 2013, when the combination of new design based on Intel's Bay Trail and Haswell processors running on Windows 8.1 will hit the market, Gartner said.
Though the new types of ultramobiles will only marginally help overall PC sales volumes initially, Gartner said, they are expected to help vendors increase average selling prices (ASPs) and margins.
This reinforces my comment that the "PC in decline" hype misses the point. The function of the PC is migrating to devices not previously labeled "PC." As Gartner points out, people still want to be able to create stuff. The segments they claim will show growth are the ultramobiles/hybrid devices, and cheap tablets.
I suggest to you, cheap tablets are replacing periodicals, paper newspapers, and paperback books. Ultramobiles/hybrids are replacing PCs. Before tablets existed, it's hardly surprising that PCs were bein used for roles in which they represented overkill.
The law of unintended consequences is hitting the software vendors. When (brief) "lifetime" personal computer software licenses are being replaced by cloud based annual subscription business models, consumers respond by dropping their PC and replacing it with a tablet for which many inexpensive software options are available from a range of vendors.
I'm not the marketing genius' that Gartner and co. are, but these numbers are common sense. The PC/Laptops have basically topped out technology wise. I have a PC that I upgraded to a new CPU and video card 2 years ago and probably won't touch for 2 more years. I don't have a reason to, as it is good enough. In the meantime, I have bought 2 smartphones, a netbook and two tablets. I think the miss that these PC Doomsayers have is that unless something incredible happens to technology, most folks hold onto PCs longer (and they still do their jobs), but buy portable, convenient hardware to consume media. The two universes are coexisting, not so much replacing one with the other, as the doomsayers would have you believe.
"The revised Gartner forecast for PC shipments is another nail in the coffin of the traditional desktop and notebook PC."
Such hyperbole obscures the real points. Bert22306 is quite right: tasks that used to be done on a PC are shifting to other devices.
It's all about use cases. The traditional PC is *not* going to go away, but the market is declining.
Part of the problem for PC makers is that PCs are commodities, with commodity pricing and razor thin margins. Dell's recent move to take itself private is a side-effect of that, as it becomes more and more difficult to make money on PCs.
Another part is that the PC market is arguably saturated, with most folks who might be able to use a PC already having one. There is still a substantial market for replacements and upgrades, but *new* sales may be miniscule.
The question becomes exactly what users can *do* with various types of devices. Things that used to be done by PC because it was the only device that could are migrating to tablets and phones, and many users who might have previously bought a PC may not *need* one, because a phone or tablet (or combination of them) will do everything they require. Some may even find
PCs they already have superfluous.
And the commoditization ia occurring now in tablets and phones, as well. Nook has thrown in the towel, and will no longer produce the Nook Tablet and Table HD, and will concentrate on the dedicated ebook reader market. No surprise: everyone I know who looked at the Nook Tablet saw a device that could be rooted to prodeuce a cheap Android tablet, but those are becoming available at prices Nook can't meet profitably.
I expect phone makers to come under similar pressure, and every phone to become a smartphone, simply because the hardware is cheap enough that it *can*.
The vendors all live in interesting times.
Pcs are producers and tablets are consumers of information. The consumers are just entering a growth phase. As more consumers become available the producers will then see a growth phase. Watch for pcs to become more capable as producers of content and more targeted for the type of information produced.
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