The growth of the iPad, along with other tablet devices prompted one research firm to scale back its estimates for consumers PC demand. Instead, there is a “growing consumer enthusiasm for mobile PC alternatives,” including the just-announced iPad 2.
“We expect growing consumer enthusiasm for mobile PC alternatives, such as the iPad and other media tablets, to dramatically slow home mobile PC sales, especially in mature markets,” George Shiffler, Gartner’s research director, said Thursday. As a result, the firm now believes this year’s global PC shipments will increase 10.5 percent over 2010, down from an earlier estimated 15.9 percent.
Consumers will not buy new mobile PCs to replace aging laptops “as they adopt media tablets and other mobile PC alternatives as their primary mobile device,” Shiffler adds. The consumer mobile PC market will grow an average of less than 10 percent in mature markets from 2011 through 2015, the researcher expects.
Even the professional market, which is expected to witness double-digit growth in 2011 and 2012, is not safe from the influx of tablets. “Even in the professional market, media tablets are being considered as PC substitutes, likely at least delaying some PC replacements,” senior researcher Raphael Vasquez said.
Three factors seem to hurt future growth of mobile PCs, which at one point averaged 40 percent annual growth. First is the prevalence of inexpensive Wi-Fi modules, making the laptop no longer the only way to connect and compute while on the go. Secondly, consumers are now taking a “wait and see” attitude toward PCs and they look toward the new crop of tablets. Thirdly, mobile PCs were introduced as a “fashion accessory,” making computing “cool” again. However, the devices now in vogue are the smartphone and tablet, according to Gartner.