The PC industry crossed the 2011 finishing line with a 1.4 percent year-over-year shipment drop while its new nemesis, Apple’s iPad, posted record sales numbers. Gartner analysts expect that trend to reverse this year, though not by much.
Gartner believes global PC shipments in 2012 will grow 4.4 percent over last year, topping 368 million units. The research group is pinning higher hopes on 2013, predicting over 400 million PCs will ship worldwide that year.
Emerging markets will comprise a big chunk of that figure, notes Ranjit Atwal, research director at Gartner.
“PC shipments will remain weak in 2012, as the PC market plays catch up in bringing a new level of innovation that consumers want to see in devices they purchase,” says Atwal. “The real question is whether Windows 8 and ultrabooks will create the compelling offering that gets the earlier adopter of devices excited about PCs again.”
Windows 8 is on pace to launch this October, while ultrabooks continue to struggle for market share thanks to $1,000 price tags. Gartner posits that ultrabooks will gain traction later this year. Manufacturer Acer has already confirmed a price drop for its Aspire S3 ultrabook by this summer.
Atwal believes that tablets rewrote the rules on how consumers decide between purchasing a traditional computer or a handheld tablet. When a tablet can do nearly everything a PC can, other options are weighed, he says.
“The use of applications such as e-mail, social networking and Internet access, that were traditionally the domain of the PC, are now being used across media tablets and smartphones, making these devices in some cases more valued and attractive propositions,” says Atwal. “Consumers will now look at a task that they have to perform, and they will determine which device will allow them to perform such a task in the most effective, fun and convenient way. The device has to meet the user needs not the other way round.”