Mobile Tablet Devices Demand Cuts into PC Sales

Chief Executive Steve Jobs, Apple recently stated that the tech industry is in the “post-PC” device era as Apple introduced the iPad 2.  Then, a Gartner a leading technology research firm gave some credibilty to that claim, by  reducing their PC shipment forecast and citing tablets as one of the primary reasons.

Gartner Inc. said it expects worldwide PC shipments to grow 10.5% in 2011 to 387.8 million units, down from an earlier forecast of 15.9% growth. The biggest decline will come in laptops sold to consumers, a traditionally high-growth category where shipments are now expected to increase 14.6% in 2011 instead of 25.1%, the firm said.

Competition from the iPad is an obvious reason.  Many analysts estimates call for upwards of 40 million tablet sales in 2011—with Apple’s device dominating the market—an amount that would more than compensate for the drop-off in PC sales if the two categories were combined.  “The tablet is obviously one of the biggest challenges the PC has ever faced,” said George Shiffler, a Gartner analyst.   Still, it may be way too early to call the mobile tablet a PC killer.  Many businesses and organizations of all sizes and consumers who need computers for work are still likely to buy laptops.

Mr. Shiffler,  suspects that laptop growth may kick into a higher gear again after a delay as consumer figure out the best uses for the new devices. Gartner even revised upward its long-term growth rates for laptop shipments, as consumers in developing countries buy more of the machines.

 “Tablets are an exciting new option for consumers right now and a category Best Buy is focusing heavily on,” a spokeswoman for the Richfield, Minn.-based retailer said in a statement on Thursday.  The exuberance around [Wednesday’s] iPad announcement is really indicative of the excitement we’re seeing for tablets overall this year, and we expect this enthusiasm to continue.”

Toshiba plans to release a tablet running  Google Android operating system in May. “  More Tablet announcements and product rollouts are on the horizon – stay tuned!

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