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PC Sales Suffer As Consumers Turn To Tablets, Smartphones

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(Photo: J. Nair)
(Photo: J. Nair)


  • PC sales in US dropped 11%, worse than rest of world
  • Windows 8 may boost PC sales but benefits will not be seen before year end
  • Meanwhile, Apple iPad tablet sales up 151%

Sales for personal computers were down during the second quarter of 2012 as customers are increasingly attracted to smartphones and tablets, according to research from market analysts.

Reports from Gartner and IDC indicate that PC sales fell by 0.1% from 2011, down to 87.5 million units globally. In the United States, the drop was even more significant as sales dropped nearly 11% from the previous year to 15.9 million units. These recent declines mark the seventh-straight quarter of falling numbers.

Earlier this year, Microsoft announced Windows 8 will be released in October, and analysts believe that if Windows 8 succeeds in increasing sales, the benefits will not be felt until the fourth quarter.

Jay Chou, an analyst with IDC, says: "The announcement of a Windows 8 launch date, as well as broader communication of new features in the OS, are key steps that would help address uncertainty about new product availability and help consumers and channels plan their purchases."

PC Market Mature, Saturated

The mature PC market is saturated, Gartner analysts say, and it makes customers less likely to buy a PC when they can purchase newer technology like tablets and smartphones.

In fact, while PC sales are falling, tablet sales are going strong. Apple’s iPad, the most popular tablet on the market, has recently logged an impressive sales increase of 151%.

Another potential competitor exists in ultrabooks – which offer the double advantage of being the size of a tablet but have all the capabilities of a laptop – but they have yet to make a dent in PC sales. The major drawback to the ultrabook is price, with the two dozen ultrabooks on the market costing over $800.

HP, Dell See Shipments Drop

The world’s top-five computer manufacturers are Hewlett-Packard, Lenovo, Dell, Acer and ASUS, and only HP and Dell are witnessing a drop in shipments.

In the US, Apple ranks as a top-five manufacturer, coming in third. The number of computers it has sold, however, is in dispute: Mac shipments grew by 4.3% from 2011, according to Gartner, but IDC says shipments fell by 1.1% over the same time period.

Key Statistics - Global Tablet Computer Market (source: TechNavio)

  • For the time frame 2011–2015, it is predicted that the tablet computer market will grow at a CAGR of nearly 21% globally. The benefits of tablet computers over laptops are contributing factors to market growth.
  • Companies around the world are now increasing demand for tablet computers. 
  • Samsung Electronics, Apple, Motorola Mobility and Amazon Inc. are key vendors in the tablet computer market.

By Melina Druga for
Melina Druga is an author and freelance journalist. You can follow her on Twitter @MelinaDruga .

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