Stamford, Conn. - Gartner has slightly downgraded its 2011 PC unit shipment forecast due to consumer interest in the iPad and other media tablets.
Gartner now expects 2011 PC shipments worldwide to hit 409 million units, up 15.9 percent from this year. In September the research firm expected shipments to be 18.1 percent higher than 2010.
Gartner analysts placed the reason for the drop directly on the new crop of media tablets. Media tablets will have such an impact on the market that Gartner is not ruling out a permanent shift away from the traditional computer types to media tablets, particularly for consumers.
"Over the longer term, media tablets are expected to displace around 10 percent of PC units by 2014," said Ranjit Atwal, research director at Gartner.
Gartner tracks media tablet devices separately from desktop and laptop computers. In October the company released a
predicting 20 million media tablets will ship in 2010, with twice that number going out in 2011.
Adding to the PC woes will be next-generation smartphones that mimic a PC's capabilities while giving users an extremely mobile experience, the company said.
Gartner also pointed out the business model that has supported desktop and laptop sales, low prices that drive volume, is hitting a wall.
"As the PC market slows, vendors that differentiate themselves through services and technology innovation rather than unit volume and price will dictate the future," George Shiffler, research director at Gartner.
Shiffler added that even when such innovations are adopted by PC vendors, they will still struggle to make their products desirable compared to the media tablets.
Adding to the PC's downfall is the ongoing recession, which is forcing consumers and businesses to hold off on purchases.
Gartner also noted other, non-media tablet reasons, for the PC upcoming struggle.