Led by the Apple iPad, media tablets are drawing consumer interest, and dollars, away from PCs, forcing Gartner analysts to lower their projections for 2011 and 2012.
In a March 3 report, Gartner said it now expects worldwide PC shipments this year to grow 10.5 percent over 2010 -- instead of the 15.9 percent predicted earlier -- reaching 387.8 million units in 2011, and by 13.6 percent, versus 14.8 percent, totaling 440.6 million units in 2012.
"We once thought that mobile PC growth would continue to be sustained by consumers buying second and third mobile PCs as personal devices. However, we now believe that consumers are not only likely to forgo additional mobile PC buys but are also likely to extend the lifetimes of the mobile PCs they retain as they adopt media tablets and other mobile PC alternatives as their primary mobile device," Gartner Research Director George Shiffler said in a statement.
At fault, said Gartner, are a near-term weakness in China's mobile PC market (China is expected to account for the bulk of tablet shipments this yearÃ-- -- 41 percent, compared to just 11 percent by the United States, according to ABI Research) and the PC industry itself.
While the appeal of mobile PCs has been their portability, Gartner analysts said, "mainstream mobile PCs have not shed sufficient weight, and do not offer the all-day battery life to substantiate their promise of real mobility. These limitations have become all the more apparent with the rapid spread of social networking, which thrives on constant and immediate connections. In short, all-day untethered computing has yet to materialize, and that has exposed the 'mobile' PC as merely a transportable PC at best."