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Business PC refresh cycles are set to stretch even further, according to IDC analysis - heaping more strain on vendors and channel partners.

This comes against a backdrop of declining global sales of desktops and notebooks, which fell by 4.1 per cent and 3.4 per cent respectively in 2012 compared to 2011. No near-term uptick is predicted.

"The pressure on the PC market is significantly increasing and we can see longer replacement cycles coming into effect very soon," said Megha Saini, a box counter at IDC. She added this will "put downward pressure on PC sales".

Traditional computers maker were caught out by the shift in the market to tablets and other portable systems; in 2012 fondleslab shipments grew 78.4 per cent and smartmobes climbed 46.1 per cent. Only Lenovo made ground in the classic PC space.

Most manufacturers arrived either ill-equipped to compete or were incredibly late entrants, giving up ground to Apple and Samsung.

IDC forecasts a five per cent drop in sales of desk-based computers between 2012 and 2017, portable PC growth of at least 19 per cent, tabs soaring 174.5 per cent and smartphones rising 109.9 per cent.

If this proves prophetic, in five years smartphones will account for 67 per cent of internet-connected devices globally, tabs will represent 16 per cent, portables PCs 11 per cent and desktops six per cent.

Meanwhile, Apple closed the gap on unit shipment market leader Samsung in the final quarter of 2012: the iPhone and iPad Mini helped push Apple's market share of "smart connected devices" to 20.3 per cent versus Samsung's 21.2 per cent.

The picture was slightly different in terms of revenues. Apple had a 30.7 per cent share and Samsung bagged 20.4 per cent. ®

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