PC Sales Fall Short in Q4, Tablets to Blame

By Beecher Tuttle January 13, 2011

Global PC shipments increased by 3.1 percent in the fourth quarter of 2010, but fell well short of the consensus 4.8 percent growth forecast, according to a report by the research firm Gartner. On the year, the PC market saw a 13.8 percent boost in shipments compared to 2009.

So why did the growth of PC sales slow toward the end of the year? One word: tablets.

“Overall, holiday PC sales were weak in many key regions due to the intensifying competition in consumer spending," Mikako Kitagawa, principal analyst at Gartner, said in a statement.

"Media tablets, such as the iPad, as well as other consumer electronic devices, such as game consoles, all competed against PCs,” she continued.

Kitagawa also speculated that the growth rate for the PC market may continue to deteriorate as it faces even more competition from tablets and other Web-enabled electronic devices.

Gary Shapiro, head of the Consumer Electronics Association, estimated that as many as 80 new tablet devices were introduced or teased at this year's Consumers Electronics Show, which just wrapped up in Las Vegas. Companies with no real background in the computing space, including television manufacturers Vizio and AOC, each announced tablets during CES week.

When looking at the Gartner report more closely, the biggest losers in Q4 were undoubtedly those that specialize in manufacturing netbook computers. Acer, which has dominated the netbook space for a number of years, had a miserable fourth quarter. The Taiwan-based computer company sold only 2.1 million PC units in Q4, down approximately 30 percent compared to the same quarter last year, according to Business Insider.

The fact is, the netbook itself may be on its last legs. In October of last year, the Consumer Electronics Association speculated that netbook sales would plummet by 12 percent in 2010, after nearly doubling the year before. Many users have found that tablets are similar to netbook computers in terms of cost and weight, yet offer much more functionality.

Beecher Tuttle is a TechZone360 contributor. He has extensive experience writing and editing for print publications and online news websites. He has specialized in a variety of industries, including health care technology, politics and education. To read more of his articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Janice McDuffee

TechZone360 Contributor

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