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Tablet surge stunts Christmas PC sales

Apple iPad

By Barry Collins

Posted on 13 Jan 2011 at 07:39

PC sales were hampered over the crucial Christmas quarter because of the success of the Apple iPad and other tablet devices, according to two leading research firms.

Separate reports from both IDC and Gartner reveal the worldwide PC market witnessed modest growth in the fourth quarter of 2010, with both firms blaming the iPad for lower than expected figures. Gartner pinned year-on-year PC sales growth at 3.1%, while IDC plumped for a more modest 2.7%.

Media tablets, such as the iPad, as well as other consumer electronic devices, such as game consoles, all competed against PCs

"Overall, holiday PC sales were weak in many key regions due to the intensifying competition in consumer spending," said Mikako Kitagawa, principal analyst at Gartner. "Media tablets, such as the iPad, as well as other consumer electronic devices, such as game consoles, all competed against PCs."

IDC forecast that tablets could have even more dire consequences for the PC market this year. "Growth steadily slowed throughout 2010 as weakening demand and competition from the Apple iPad constrained PC shipments," said the firm's research director, David Daoud.

"In addition to relatively high market penetration and a 'good-enough' computing experience with existing PCs, consumers are being more cautious with their purchases and competing devices have been vying for consumer dollars. This situation is likely to persist in 2011, if not worsen, as a wave of media tablets could put a dent in the traditional PC market."

Netbook sales have been particularly hard hit by the rise of tablets, IDC claims. "Consumer fatigue is playing an important role in many markets as the mini-notebook surge wanes and consumers watch their spending and evaluate other products," said IDC's research analyst Jay Chou.

Lenovo and Toshiba rise

It was a tough quarter for the world's two biggest PC sellers, HP and Acer, who both saw sales fall year-on-year, according to both analysts. Dell recorded a modest increase, which saw it overtake Acer to reclaim the world number two spot, according to IDC, although Gartner still has Dell pegged in third.

Both analysts agree it was a stellar quarter for Lenovo and Toshiba. Lenovo recorded 21.4% growth according to Gartner and 21.1% in IDC's figures, while fifth-placed Toshiba hit 12.1% growth in both analysts' tables.

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User comments

What a ridiculous statement

I'd no more buy an iPad INSTEAD of a PC that you'd buy a bicycle instead of a plane ticket.
The headline should read "PC sales fell due to lack of cash, cheaper devices were bought instead".

By cheysuli on 13 Jan 2011


Well, you know, most people already have a pc and/or laptop so... they probably wanted the most shiny device they can find and seeing as Tablets (iPad) are the latest thing out there...

As for desktops, we're not at the point where any core 2 duo is MORE than fast enough for most of us and only people like me, upgrade to things like Core i7/i5/i3 because we can.

As for tablets, it'll soon pass when people go back to standard laptops. (Fingers crossed as the iPad isn't exactly 'cheap')

By rhythm on 13 Jan 2011

Whilst there is an aspect of people buying tablets just because they are new and shiny, I really do think that some people buy one instead of a laptop.

There are plenty of people in the real world (outside of tech circles) who mainly use a laptop for surfing and emailing.

It is these people who will consider getting a tablet instead of replacing their ageing laptop.

The ageing laptop can still be used for music, Word files etc, but the tablet will be used for email, facebook, twitter and general internet usage

By SteveSmith on 13 Jan 2011

@cheysuli - Not as ridiculous as your lack of insight though. Just because you wouldn't buy an iPad instead of a PC doesn't mean nobody else would. PC sales at Christmas will be bulked up by teenagers and students and fashion concious buyers who want to be able to surf the 'net and communicate with their friends. A lot of these will find an iPad / tablet more suitable for them and go with that option.

By ralphuk100 on 13 Jan 2011

I wonder how many people bought tablets though instead of PCs out of either hype or ignorance.

I know of people who were going to buy an ipad thinking they were as good as a PC but was shocked when I told them it was basically a giant ipod touch.

By tech3475 on 13 Jan 2011

iPads sales not included as part of Mac sales stat but Netbooks are counted in 'PC' sales

Given the presumption by both Analyst firms that the iPad is not a computer/Mac replacement, their sales figures have been excluded as seperate from Mac sales.

Now could the same assumption be applied to Netbooks? Would anyone use a netbook as a primary machine anymore than a person would use an iPad as a primary machine?

By ihsan on 13 Jan 2011

It's not as if they were buying puppies rather than computers. It's the same companies who make the computers and the tablets.

Basically, companies release a new product and, shock, people buy that.

By steviesteveo12 on 13 Jan 2011

@tech3475 You've been misleading people. Not anti-Apple by any chance, are you?

By SwissMac on 13 Jan 2011

No your assumption is wrong really @ihsan because the iPad uses a different OS to the Mac whereas the netbook uses the same OS as the PC.
I'm a Windows programmer and I could see myself using an iPad for general home computing. Web surfing, email etc.

By TimoGunt on 13 Jan 2011

View it from a functional perspective because that's what consumers are doing..

"because the iPad uses a different OS to the Mac whereas the netbook uses the same OS as the PC."

My set-top box uses Linux, yet the sales of those aren't being considered as part of PC sales.. You have to view it from a functional perspective. And functionally, you have to ask, can a Netbook really replace a PC?

By ihsan on 13 Jan 2011

WinTel on the [slow]decline

This is the start of the general decline of p-c's. Most consumers are not tech-heads and want a computer device that's simple to use -- an appliance in other words.

By popeye91 on 13 Jan 2011

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