Demand for tablets hits PC shipments

Worldwide shipments of personal computers declined in the first quarter of 2011, contrary to expectations of modest growth, due to competition from tablets, disruptions in Japan, and increased fuel and commodity prices.

This is the first contraction in the market since the second quarter of 2009. Analysts expect the market to face difficulty through the second quarter, but to improve in the second half of the year.

While the growth of tablet computers is largely to blame for the slowing demand for desktop and portable computers, analysts say the PC industry has not done its part to keep pace with the competition by developing new products.

“We’re seeing economic indicators go up, but we see consumers spending money on other items that were neglected during the recession, like cars and other electronics,” said Jay Chou, a senior analyst with research firm International Data Corporation. “People just aren’t as enamoured with things like net books as they used to be.”

IDC said worldwide shipments declined 3.2 per cent in the first quarter, from 83.2m down to 80.5m, rather than the anticipated 1.5 per cent growth.

Gartner, the research firm, calculated a 1.1 per cent shipment decline in the first quarter, from 85.1m to 84.2m, compared with a forecast of 3 per cent growth.

Tablet sales, by contrast, are growing strong.

By region, PC shipments were down in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, the US and Japan. Shipments grew in Latin America and Asia, not including Japan.

“Those of us who are in developed countries are reassessing our priorities, taking a break. There aren’t a lot of things to justify us buying a new PC,” Mr Chou said.

“In the emerging market, like Brazil and China, things are still pretty promising because people are still looking for their first PC, rather than their third.”

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