Gartner: iPad impacting PC sales

Market analysis firm Gartner has updated its forecast for PC sales during 2010—and the numbers have some good news and some bad news for the PC industry. The good news is that worldwide PC sales are up 14.3 percent so far in 2010 compared to 2009, a sign that both consumers and businesses are buying computers again in the wake of the worldwide economic downturn. The bad news is that Gartner originally predicted 2010 PC sales growth of 17.9 percent, and Gartner is dialing back its forecast for overall growth in PC sales for 2011: instead of growing by 18.1 percent next year, Gartner is now forecasting a 15.9 percent increase, due in no small part to consumers’ interest in tablet computing.

“PC market growth will be impacted by devices that enable better on-the-go content consumption such as media tablets and next-generation smartphones,” said Gartner research analyst Raphael Vasquez, in a statement. “These devices will be increasing embraced as complements if not substitutes for PCs where voice and light data consumption are desired.”

By 2014, Gartner anticipates media tablets will “displace” about 10 percent of PC sales worldwide.

Gartner also points to other factors contributing to slower growth in the PC market. The firm forecasts will have longer functional lifetimes—meaning they will be replaced less frequently—and the firm sees increased utilization of hosted virtual desktops beginning in 2012 that users will largely access with refurbished and repurposed PCs (and thin clients, like tablets) rather than full-blown new PCs. The economic downturn will also continue to weigh on PC markets, particularly on the consumer side, where individuals are more likely to defray a computer purchase and opt for a media tablet. However, Gartner believes emerging markets will continue to drive growth for the worldwide PC industry, with emerging markets accounting for more than half of all PCs sold by the end of 2011.