Despite Ongoing Decline in Traditional PC Demand, Sales Will Trump Tablets Through 2014

Paul Lilly

Desktops and notebooks still rule the roost

You'd have to stick your head under a rock the size of Kansas to miss the current trend towards mobile devices, and it's certainly true that OEMs (save for Lenovo) are getting hammered by slumping desktop and notebook sales. But just like Rocky Balboa, it would be a mistake to count traditional PCs out of the fight. In fact, desktops and notebooks combined will continue to outpace tablets through this year and next, according to Gartner .

You might not know it looking at the headlines or surface data. For example, Gartner expects traditional PC shipments to decline 10.6 percent in 2013, while tablet shipments increase 67.9 percent. That's a major disparity.

"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. Mobility is paramount in both mature and emerging markets," said Carolina Milanesi , research vice president at Gartner.

Milanesi speaks the truth, though a closer examination of the numbers reveals that it's not yet time to hit the panic button. By the end of 2013, Gartner forecasts more than 305 million new desktop and notebook shipments, compared to 201.8 million tablets. In 2014, the race will tighten a bit, with 289.2 million traditional PC shipments versus 276 million tablet shipments.

It certainly looks like a changing of the guard is inevitable, though it won't come for a few more years ( perhaps by 2017 , as Gartner previously predicted). Even then, millions of new desktops and notebooks will still be entering the market.

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