Gartner Cuts PC Shipment Forecast Figures

Gartner, the Connecticut-based IT technology research and advisory company, released its newest analysis on worldwide PC sales on Monday. The report found that while the market is poised to sell 352.4 million units for 2010, an increase of 14.3 percent over 2009, it will miss the 17.9 percent growth Gartner had initially projected for the year in September.

It has also adjusted its estimates for the coming year. Gartner had previously stated that it expected 2011 PC sales to increase 18.1 percent over this year's numbers. It now forecasts that worldwide sales will increase by only 15.9 percent.

The research company reduced its worldwide projected figures due to the strong sales of desktop alternatives by the average consumer. "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 Raphael Vasquez, a Gartner research analyst, in a press release. "These devices will be increasing embraced as complements if not substitutes for PCs where voice and light data consumption are desired."

The study directly points to the success of the iPad and reports that many home users are opting for tablets instead of replacing or upgrading personal computers. It projects that tablets should replace 10 percent of PC sales by 2014.     

For enterprises, Gartner cites that there is still hesitation to upgrade and add units, due to the slow economic recovery. It also projects that the average PC lifecycle will increase as individuals adopt mobile devices into their everyday computing activities. The report also showed that, while virtual desktops, thin clients and other cloud-related technology are slowly being adopted, they shouldn't directly impact worldwide PC sales until 2012.

While PC vendors had to contend with the uncertainty of the economically weak market the past few years, Gartner states that those PC companies that don't embrace new technology devices may not benefit from the recovering market.

"As the PC market slows, vendors that differentiate themselves through services and technology innovation rather than unit volume and price will dictate the future," said George Shiffler, Gartner's research director. "Even then, leading vendors will be challenged to keep PCs from losing the device 'limelight' to more innovative products that offer better dedicated compute capabilities."

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