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Posted: 05:13:41 PM, 04/07/2013

Anytime, anywhere computing drives buyer behaviour

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Market research firm Gartner Inc. now expects shipments of traditional PCs to drop a whopping 11 per cent in 2013. Tablet shipments are projected to increase by 68 per cent, 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 PCincluding ultramobilesare expected to decline by 7 per cent this year to 325 million, according to Gartner.

Meanwhile, combined shipments of PCs, tablets and mobile phones are projected to grow by 6 per cent 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 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 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.

Gartner said the tablet and smartphone markets are also facing challenges the devices attain longer life cycles. There has also been a shift as many consumers go from premium tablets like the iPad 4 to "basic" tablets, according to Gartner.

The market share of basic tablets is expected to increase faster than anticipated, Gartner said. Sales of the iPad minithe smaller, scaled down, less expensive version of the iPad introduced last yearalready represented 60 per cent of overall iOS tablet sales in the first quarter of 2013, Gartner said.

"The increased availability of lower priced basic tablets, plus the value add shifting to software rather than hardware will result in the lifetimes of premium tablets extending as they remain active in the household for longer," said Ranjit Atwal, research director at Gartner. "We will also see consumer preferences split between basic tablets and ultramobile devices."

Atwal said Gartner has decreased its forecast for mobile phone shipments this year due to increased device life cycles and the fact that consumers are tending to wait delay purchases in expectation of new models and lower prices expected to hit the market in the fall and during the holiday season.

"The challenge in the smartphone market is also that, as penetration moves more and more to the mass market, price points are lowering and in most cases so do margins," Atwal said.

"Although the numbers seem to paint a clear picture of who the winner will be when it comes to operating systems in the device market, the reality is that today ecosystem owners are challenged in having the same relevance in all segments," Milanesi said.

"Apple is currently the more homogeneous presence across all device segments, while 90 per cent of Android sales are currently in the mobile phone market and 85 per cent of Microsoft sales are in the PC market," Milanesi said.

Dylan McGrath

EE Times

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