updated 09:05 am EDT, Thu September 8, 2011
Gartner cautious on PC growth in 2011 and 2012
Gartner lowered its predictions for growth in the PC industry for 2011 to 3.8 percent on Thursday. The cut was a steep drop from a predicted 9.3 percent and blamed partly on tough economies in Europe and the US, leading customers to hold back. Research lead Ranjit Atwal saw the larger issue as a transition away from conventional PCs, however, and gave particular concern for Microsoft as its core business was losing luster across much of the public.
"Generation Y has an altogether different view of client devices than older generations and are not buying PCs as their first, or necessarily main, device," the analyst said. "For older buyers, today's PCs are not a particularly compelling product, so they continue to extend lifetimes, as PC shops and IT departments repair rather than replace these systems."
Fellow research director George Shiffler singled out tablets, led by the iPad, as core to that shift away from the PC. He pointed to HP's attempted exit from PCs as proof that the computer industry was no longer the same. Assumptions that traditional PCs would persist weren't working out and were leading to knee-jerk reactions from PC builders.
"Vendors only seem to be flailing as they look for quick fixes to their problems," Shiffler said. "Unfortunately, the resulting chaos is just creating more confusion across the entire PC supply chain, impacting sell-in."
The 2011 impact would have a spillover effect in 2012, where growth would be healthier but would be down from an originally predicted 12.8 percent to 10.9 percent. Improvements would come from a mix of better economies and new mobile device types coming into play.
Gartner's estimates aren't likely to please Microsoft, whose corporate communications head Frank Shaw has been insisting PCs are thriving. The firm considers tablets as PCs, not post-PC devices, and is hoping that Windows 8 will upend Apple and Google when it ships in 2012. Doubts exist as to whether this will work as Microsoft had tried Windows tablets for eight years only to have lifetime Windows tablet sales outpaced by the iPad in nine months.