US PC market hit as consumers look for tablets: Gartner

The emergence of tablets like the iPad, the Xoom and the Galaxy Tab is starting to affect the growth of the PC market, Gartner warned. Overall PC shipments during the second quarter was up 2.3% globally — below Gartner’s initial projection of 6.7%.

The trend was especially visible in the US during the quarter ended June. The number of PCs shipped in the US during the 3 month period fell 5.6% compared to the same period a year ago as vendors had to resort to special schemes to entice customers.

The trend in the US — the most advanced PC market in the West — seen as a precursor of what can happen elsewhere as tablets start taking a larger pie of the computing market.

“Given the hype around media tablets such as the iPad, retailers were very conservative in placing orders for PCs. Instead, they wanted to secure space for media tablets,” pointed out said Mikako Kitagawa, principal analyst at Gartner. “Some PC vendors had to lower their inventory through promotions, while others slimmed their product lines at retailers.”

The decline comes on the back of a similar 6.1% fall in the US market during the first quarter of this year — the first such decline in the US in six quarters. The decline also led to a 1.1% fall in global PC shipments during the first quarter.

Another reason for the poor performance of the PC market is that tablets are replacing net-books as the most preferred ‘companion device’. While netbooks are counted among PCs, tablets are not.

Thankfully, despite the US, the second quarter saw the global PC market come back to growth on the back of a strong performance by China and other countries in the region.

The Asia Pacific now accounts for 36% of all computers sold in the World, up from 33.5% a year ago. In comparison, the US accounted for less than 20% while Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) together accounted for just 27% of the total units shipped in the quarter.

“India showed weaker-than-expected consumer demand, while China’s PC market grew 10.9 percent year over year. China’s growth was attributed to the release of pent-up demand for consumer PCs,” Gartner said.