Technology

Tablet Sales Surging as PC, Laptop Numbers Slide

According to new estimates from Gartner, the worldwide tablet market is seeing large increases, while more traditional desktops and laptops are struggling to keep pace. The research firm suggests that the trend shows consumers are placing a premium on mobility.

While PCs may be struggling to keep their footing with consumers these days, tablets are standing tall.

Mobility is paramount in both mature and emerging markets.

The reason? According to IT research firm Gartner, it’s about mobility.

“Consumers want anytime-anywhere computing that allows them to consume and create content with ease, but also share and access that content from a different portfolio of products,” says Carolina Milanesi, research vice president on Gartner’s consumer devices team. “Mobility is paramount in both mature and emerging markets.”

More details from the report:

What the numbers show: The worldwide computing market is surging—with sales expected to jump to almost 2.35 billion overall units in 2013, a 5.9 percent increase from 2012. The momentum is clearly with tablets: They are expected to see a 67.9 percent increase in shipments over that period to nearly 202 million units. Meanwhile, mobile device sales are predicted to see an estimated 4.3 percent jump to more than 1.8 billion units this year. The PC market, however, is struggling—with a 10.6 percent decline in unit sales anticipated in 2013 (from 341 million to 305 million), and unit levels expected to fall below to 289 million by 2014.

All tablets aren’t the same: But even in the tablet market, things aren’t cut-and-dried. While the iPad leads the industry, an increase in lower-cost options has helped the market surge, with more-powerful units having longer lifespans. The launch of the iPad Mini only accelerated this trend, with the device representing nearly two-thirds of all iOS-based tablet sales in the first quarter of 2013. “The increased availability of lower-priced basic tablets, plus the value add shifting to software rather than hardware, will result in the lifetimes of premium tablets extending as they remain active in the household for longer,” said Gartner research director Ranjit Atwal.

The silver lining for desktop: One portion of the market that’s improving is the ultramobile sector, which includes products such as Chromebooks, the MacBook Air, and several small, thin desktop computers based on Windows 8. With Intel releasing new chip lines that help boost performance and battery life, a number of new ultrabooks are expected to hit the market later this fall, which could help the sector after the sluggish sales that followed the launch of Windows 8.

The latest forecast comes on the heels of an earlier Gartner report that suggested PC users are starting to replace their products with tablets.

How are you adjusting your approach to IT given the move away from the traditional desktop paradigm? Let us know in the comments.

(iStockphoto/Thinkstock)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is the social media journalist for Associations Now, a former newspaper guy, and a man who is dangerous when armed with a good pun. MORE

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