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Analyst cuts PC sales forecast, blames iPad

Consumers buying tablets, making computers last longer

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Market watcher Gartner has pruned its forecast world personal computer sales growth this year and next, knocking nearly four percentage points off its 2010 prediction. The reason? The iPad.

And, to be fair, other such media tablets, though the Apple offering has been the key seller in 2010.

In September, Gartner forecast that 2010's PC sales would be 17.9 per cent higher than they were in 2009. Now it reckons growth with be 14.3 per cent.

Likewise, the year-on-year growth in 2011 will be 15.9 per cent, the researcher now reckons, down from an earlier forecast of 18.1 per cent.

Looking at the unit forecasts, that means some 352.4m PCs will ship this year, down from the 363.5m Gartner was previously expecting to record. That's an 11.1m difference, which is a heck of a lot of iPads plus the odd Samsung Galaxy Tab.

Gartner did say the decline does "reflect marked reductions in expected near-term unit growth based on expectations of weaker consumer demand", but stressed that this dip in consumer interest in PCs was "due in no small part to growing user interest in media tablets such as the iPad".

The researcher believes tablets are complementary to personal computers, but the fact remains that, for a lot of folk, buying one of the former means they feel a lot less inclined to upgrade the latter, and that must have an impact on PC sales.

Gartner added that the economic gloom is dissuading consumers from making new computer purchases too, but it's interesting that the difference between the company's two 2010 PC unit shipment forecasts comes very close indeed to what a lot of other analysts have been forecasting for this year's iPad sales tally. ®

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