Tablets scratch surface of Q1 PC shipments

People are shunning the trusty PC in favour of media tablets, like the wait-for-it and cross your fingers, expensive iPad 2, but it’s a sign of consumer confusion rather than market cannibalisation for now.

Figures from IHS iSuppli suggest media tablets are making a small dent in traditional PCs, with worldwide PC shipments reaching 81.3 million in Q1 2011 – down 0.3 percent from the same quarter last year.

Twinned with three out of the top five PC makers suffering shipment declines it’s some proof that the momentum of the tablet is disruptive. 

Acer in particular, which has been suffering from corporate political disagreements, has had its toe stubbed most noticeably as its primary netbook segment suffered a 20.4 percent shipment decline from the same time last year. While it looks grim, Acer will probably enjoy success with its netbooks in growing and emerging markets, where they are still an attractive option. Acer was third place in terms of PC market share.

HP was still the top vendor but it did have to take a 2.1 percent sales decline on the chin compared to Q1 2010. Dell sat comfortably in the second spot, while Lenovo and Toshiba were at four and five. They both managed some growth, with market share positions of 10 percent and 5.8 percent respectively.

Businesses still wanted their PCs but it wasn’t quite enough to prop up the loss in consumer interest. The consumer doesn’t seem to like keyboards very much.

That said, the “jury is still out on exactly how much tablets are cannibalising PC sales,” according to principle analyst for compute platforms at IHS iSuppli, Matthew Wilkins.

At the moment, it’s more a case of confusion on the consumer’s part about how to treat the tablet compared to PCs, and how the two platfoms relate. 

Analysts expect PC sales growth to return later on in 2011. IHS iSuppli believes that this year will see market expansion of 8 percent to 373 million units, which will be up from 345 million in 2010.