Are we heading to an end of the PC era?

by CXOtoday News Desk    Oct 11, 2013

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For the sixth time in a row, quarter after quarter, PC shipments have been showing a downward trend. According to a recent Gartner report, worldwide PC shipments declined by yet another 8.6% to 80.3 million units in the third quarter of 2013. This is the lowest volume since 2008.

“Consumers’ shift from PCs to tablets for daily content consumption continued to decrease the installed base of PCs both in mature as well as in emerging markets,” says Mikako Kitagawa, principal analyst at Gartner.

In Asia/Pacific, PC shipments were at 28.1 million units in the third quarter of 2013, an 11.2% decline from the third quarter of 2012. The region was hampered by the currency volatilities, especially in India and Indonesia, where currencies plunged to record lows.

The preliminary numbers reported by Gartner show that while Lenovo and HP are still fighting for the top slot in PCs, many other vendors have started to shift their focus to tablets. Acer’s PC shipments declined 22.6 percent compared with a year ago, as a reduction in netbook shipments impacted overall PC shipment results. Acer has heavily sought opportunities in other device markets, says the report. Asus saw PC shipments decline 22.5 percent. Asus has clearly shifted its focus from PCs to tablets. Asus’ tablet shipments were nearly equal to its mobile PC shipments in 3Q13.

The US market has, however, shown a marginal improvement of 3.5% in Q3. But Kitagawa points out, “The positive US results could mean that seasonal strength and channel fill for new product launches in 3Q13 finally overcame the structural decline.”

The PC market in EMEA fell by 13.7%, while Western Europe, Eastern Europe and the Middle East and Africa all showed a shipment decline. “In Eastern Europe the decline was due to the continued popularity of tablets as well as some weakening of the Russian Ruble against the Euro and the US Dollar, which led to price increases,” said Ranjit Atwal, research director at Gartner. “The demand for PCs in the Middle East and Africa also continued to slow as tablet adoption increased — particularly in the Middle East.”

The numbers are a clear indication that many consumers are showing a preference for tablets over PCs across all regions in the world. While PCs may still continue to sell due to the obvious advantages they offer, market analysts say that tablets might soon take over in the daily consumer market. Most people who access PCs for surfing, mailing and other routine tasks may not need a PC. Moreover, with tablets/smart devices becoming more affordable, the users are also being encouraged to switch over. Does that mean we’re heading to an end of the PC era?