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Tablets continue to eat into the PC market

Posted: 08 Feb 2013 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:desktop? tablets? notebook PCs?

According to an independent market research firm Canalys, media tablets like Apple Inc.'s iPad and its competitors accounted for one in three personal computer shipments in the fourth quarter of 2012.

While shipments of traditional desktop and notebook PCs have been falling steadily in recent quarters, tablet shipments have been growing at an impressive clip. Total PC shipmentsincluding tabletsgrew 12 in the fourth quarter to reach 134 million units.

Shipments of traditional PCs contracted last year for the first time since 2001 as more consumers opted to buy tablets, which are generally less expensive and better suited for mobile computing.

According to Gartner, which tracks tablet and PC sales separately, worldwide PC shipments totaled 90.3 million units in the fourth quarter, down 5 per cent from the fourth quarter of 2011.

According to Mikako Kitagawa, a principal analyst at Gartner, tablets have dramatically changed the landscape for PCs, not just by cannibalizing PC sales but also by prompting PC users to shift consumption to tablets rather than replacing older PCs.

"Whereas as once we imagined a world in which individual users would have both a PC and a tablet as personal devices, we increasingly suspect that most individuals will shift consumption activity to a personal tablet, and perform creative and administrative tasks on a shared PC," Kitagawa said.

With sales of iPads being lumped into Canalys' PC category, Apple was the leader in the fourth quarter, shipping 27 million iPads and accounting for more than 20 per cent of the market for the first time, according to the research firm. Hewlett-Packard Co., which shipped 15 million PCs, was the second-ranked vendor, beating China's Lenovo Group Ltd. by 200,000 units. Both HP and Lenovo held about 11 per cent of the total market, according to the firm.

Dell Inc., which announced Tuesday plans to go private through a leveraged buyout, continues to fade in the PC market, Canalys said. Dell shipped only 9.7 million PCs in the fourth quarter, down 19 per cent from the fourth quarter of 2011, the firm said. (see Dell agrees to be taken private for $24.4 billion.)

Dell's direct business model is "expensive and unsuitable for driving growth in new markets," Canalys said. "A turnaround in fortunes is likely to take years."

Canalys said its analysts believe the planned buyout would give Dell time to rethink its strategy and refocus, away from the demands of Wall Street and shareholders.

- Dylan McGrath
??EE Times

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