New York - Consumers are starting to turn away from notebook computers as more web-enabled portable products like the iPad hit the market, Garter said.
This trend has caused Gartner to lower its PC shipment outlook for 2011. The research firm now expects year-over-year worldwide unit shipments to increase 10.5 percent to 387.8 million units, a 15.9 percent drop. In 2012, 440.6 million units will ship, an increase of 13.6 percent compared with the original forecast of 14.8 percent.
The impact tablet PC will have on the mobile computer market is potentially damaging to the overall PC category because consumer notebooks sales have been the primary engine sustaining the PC segment over the five years, Gartner's report said.
"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," said George Shiffler, Gartner's research director.
Shiffler added that not only are consumers buying more tablets, but the new devices are also causing people to take a stop-and-wait approach as they examine how the tablet market develops.
The tablets are putting pressure on an already-strained PC market, Shiffler said.
"The current â€˜cool' device is the smartphone, and now PCs will soon have to do battle with media tablets when they are launched in large numbers in the second quarter of 2011," the report stated.
Adding to the turmoil is the popularity of social networking, which requires the use of a very portable device that can give web access at any time and anywhere.