Report: Consumers Replacing Older PCs With Tablets

A new Gartner study, which reflects a decline in PC sales, suggests that many users are ditching low-end PCs for iPads or similar tablets.

If the long-term trend toward tablets wasn’t already clear, a recent report from Gartner may help spell it out for you.

We increasingly suspect that most individuals will shift consumption activity to a personal tablet and perform creative and administrative tasks on a shared PC.

The research firm says a big story from the year-over-year decline in PC shipments is that it suggests people are dumping their laptops or netbooks and replacing them with smaller, easier-to-carry tablets like the iPad.

“Whereas once we imagined a world in which individual users would have both a PC and a tablet as personal devices, we increasingly suspect that most individuals will shift consumption activity to a personal tablet and perform creative and administrative tasks on a shared PC,” said Gartner principal analyst Mikako Kitagawa.

This trend follows a similar—but inverted—trend in the e-reader market, where tablets started biting into the category, and consumers not in the market for a dedicated e-reader started buying tablets instead.

More details from the report:

The bad news for the PC market: PC sales took a nosedive worldwide, falling by 4.9 percent between the fourth quarter of 2011 and the fourth quarter of 2012. This was despite the holiday season being in full swing and the launch of Windows 8 happening during the quarter. In fact,  analysts went so far as to suggest that vendors “offered somewhat lackluster form factors in their Windows 8 offerings and missed the excitement of touch.”

The good news for the PC market: While the data indicates that the market is slimming down as a whole and moving in the direction of tablets, it also suggests that the low end of the market (not the high end) is shifting in this direction. “On the positive side for vendors, the disenfranchised PCs are those with lighter configurations, which means that we should see an increase in PC average selling prices (ASPs) as users replace machines used for richer applications, rather than for consumption,” Kitagawa explained.

The market leader: For the quarter, Hewlett-Packard was the top-selling PC brand both in the U.S. and worldwide, though the brand suffered a modest drop in worldwide sales between Q4 2011 and Q4 2012. While Lenovo fell to the No. 2 position for the quarter worldwide, they were up by more than 8 percent from the Q4 2011, shipping 13.9 million units.

Struggling with losses: Dell, the third-largest manufacturer worldwide and second-largest in the U.S., perhaps had the most difficult quarter, seeing year-over-year sales fall by more than 20 percent worldwide. The company, which has been publicly traded for nearly 25 years, is rumored to be going private.

Could this shift in the market suggest the need for new strategies to reach your members, requiring a move to toward apps or responsive websites? Let us know what you think in the comments.


Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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