Tablets to shave off 33% of PC growth this year:Gartner

Gartner has cut by a third its forecast for the growth of PC industry this year due to competition from tablets.

The growing popularity of devices like the iPad, which saw its second iteration on Tuesday, will bring down growth of the PC industry from 15.9% to 10.5% in 2011, the agency said. The impact will be the greatest on laptops, which have been driving the growth of the PC industry by growing at 40% growth every year.

“Consumer mobile PCs have been the dynamic growth engine of the PC market over the past five years, averaging annual rates of growth approaching 40 percent.

“For much of this period, mobile PCs remained consumers’ platform of choice for bringing the Internet into their daily lives. However, due to the spread of low-cost embedded Wi-Fi modules, Internet access is now available through a multitude of mobile devices that allow consumers to engage in virtually all their favorite online activities without the need of a mobile PC,” Gartner said.

“We expect growing consumer enthusiasm for mobile PC alternatives, such as the iPad and other media tablets, to dramatically slow home mobile PC sales, especially in mature markets,” said George Shiffler, research director at Gartner.

“We once thought that mobile PC growth would continue to be sustained by consumers buying second and third mobile PCs as personal devices. However, we now believe that consumers are not only likely to forgo additional mobile PC buys but are also likely to extend the lifetimes of the mobile PCs they retain as they adopt media tablets and other mobile PC alternatives as their primary mobile device,” he added.

As a result, home notebooks will only grow at less than 10 percent yearly in mature markets from 2011 through 2015, he added.

Mainstream mobile PCs have not shed sufficient weight, and do not offer the all-day battery life, to substantiate their promise of real mobility, Gartner pointed out.

These limitations have become all the more apparent with the rapid spread of social networking, which thrives on constant and immediate connections. In short, all-day untethered computing has yet to materialize, and that has exposed the “mobile” PC as merely a transportable PC at best, it added.

As a result, it lowered its PC unit forecast to 387.8 million units in 2011 and 440.6 million units in 2012.