Gartner: Tablets Will Cut Into PC Shipments

STAMFORD, Conn. (AP) — Technology research group Gartner Inc. cut its forecast for 2010 worldwide personal computer shipments on Monday as the economy tamps down PC demand and more consumers shift to tablets such as Apple Inc.'s iPad instead.

Gartner said it expects PC shipments to total 352.4 million units in 2010, a 14 percent increase from a year ago. Previously, Gartner forecast an 18 percent increase. For 2011, Gartner estimated worldwide PC shipments of 409 million, an annual uptick of 16 percent rather than the 18 percent growth it predicted earlier.

In the near term, Gartner said consumers and businesses are still holding off on purchasing PCs to save money, given the troubled state of the economy. In the coming years, consumers will also turn to devices that let them easily read, watch video and consume other media on the go, such as the iPad or increasingly sophisticated smart phones, and purchase new PCs less frequently as a result.

In the U.S. and Western Europe, Gartner said media tablets will have more of the features of personal computers in the coming years, "luring consumers away from PCs and displacing a significant volume of PC shipments," particularly of the inexpensive, low-powered netbook variety. By 2014, Gartner predicted tablets would displace about 10 percent of PCs shipped.

In emerging markets, Gartner said it's possible consumers will skip buying PCs altogether and buy a tablet or smart phone as a first computing device.