Tablet surge stunts Christmas PC sales

Apple iPad

The rise of tablet devices has put a dampener on PC sales, according to two leading analysts

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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