Gartner changes its mind about tablets

Gartner has gone back on previous predictions that the PC market will grow and overtake tablets.

In fact, it’s now saying that the rise of alternative PC devices is one of the factors that has led to a revised outlook.

Today it’s issued another piece of research in which it claims that it’s “lowering its PC unit forecast for 2011 and 2012,” after it got a little bit excited back in November.

The U-turn is apparently “based on expectations of weaker demand for mobile consumer PCs”.

Now, Gartner predicts that worldwide PC shipments will reach 387.8 million units in 2011, a 10.5 percent increase from 2010. This is down from Gartner’s previous projection of 15.9 percent growth for this year.

Gartner also now expects worldwide PC shipments to total 440.6 million units in 2012, a 13.6 percent increase from 2011, again this is down from Gartner’s previous outlook of 14.8 percent growth for 2012.

“These results reflect marked reductions in expected near-term unit growth based on expectations of weaker consumer mobile PC demand, in no small part because of the near-term weakness expected in China’s mobile PC market, but also because of a general loss in consumer enthusiasm for mobile PCs,” said Ranjit Atwal, research director at Gartner.

However, the research company is still sticking to its guns claiming that consumer mobile PCs have been the dynamic growth engine of the PC market over the past five years. It said that these have been averaging annual rates of growth approaching 40 percent.

It also looks as though this will continue with the company claiming it expects “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,”

Home mobile PCs are expected to average less than 10 percent annual growth in mature markets from 2011 through 2015.

However, over in the business world, PCs will reign – with Gartner predicting that this market will continue to exhibit double-digit growth in 2011 and 2012. This is because ageing PCs will continue to be replaced across all regions of the world.

That said, there is a possibility that media tablets could eat into some of the profits here. We won’t know for sure, as Gartner claims consumers are taking a “wait and see” attitude toward PCs as they anticipate the arrival of new media tablets during the rest of 2011.