Declining worldwide PC shipments during 2012 have signaled a structural shift of the PC market according to latest findings.
Gartner Research says shipments totaled 90.3m units in the fourth quarter of last year, representing a 4.9% decline from the same period last year.
But analysts believe the PC industry’s problems point to something beyond a weak economy.
“Tablets have dramatically changed the device landscape for PCs, not so much by ‘cannibalizing’ PC sales, but by causing PC users to shift consumption to tablets rather than replacing older PCs,” says Mikako Kitagawa, principal analyst, Gartner.
“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.
"There will be some individuals who retain both, but we believe they will be exception and not the norm.
"Therefore, we hypothesize that buyers will not replace secondary PCs in the household, instead allowing them to age out and shifting consumption to a tablet.”
“This transformation was triggered by the availability of compelling low-cost tablets in 2012, and will continue until the installed base of PCs declines to accommodate tablets as the primary consumption device.
"On the positive side for vendors, the disenfranchised PCs are those with lighter configurations, which mean that we should see an increase in PC average selling prices (ASPs) as users replace machines used for richer applications, rather than for consumption.”
During the holiday season, consumers no longer viewed PCs as the number one gift item according to the research.
Given a burgeoning variety of increasingly more attractive devices and services, Gartner says consumers directed their attention elsewhere.
Analysts said there was uptake of very low priced notebooks as a part of mega holiday deals, but this uptake did little to boost holiday PC sales.
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