Consumers are continuing to shift away from laptop and desktop PCs to tablets, according to market statistics compiled by research firm Gartner.
For the last quarter of 2012, global PC shipments declined 4.9 percent to 90.3 million units, and this "points to something beyond a weak economy," said Gartner analyst Mikako Kitagawa.
Kitagawa speculates that most people will use tablets to consume digital content and perform creative and administrative tasks on a shared PC. The previous assumption by the analyst firm was that users would own both a PC and a tablet.
This now seems unlikely, Kitagawa said. Consumers won't replace secondary PCs in households but buy tablets instead.
The silver lining for PC makers is that the machines replaced for shared use are likely to be of better specifications and therefore, command higher average prices.
Preliminary Worldwide PC Vendor Unit Shipment Estimates for 4Q12 (Units)
4Q12 Market Share (%)
4Q11 Market Share (%)
4Q12-4Q11 Growth (%)
Data includes desk-based PCs and mobile PCs, including mini-notebooks but not media tablets such as the iPad. Data is based on the shipments selling into channels.
Source: Gartner (January 2013)
Gartner also has some bad news for Microsoft: Windows 8 was by and large ignored by potential consumers in the last quarter and made very little impact on the market.
"Some PC vendors offered somewhat lacklustre form-factors in their Windows 8 offerings and missed the excitement of touch," Gartner notes.
Gartner also noted devices running the OS were too expensive for consumers in Europe, The Middle East and Africa.
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