Gartner Sees an End to Big Declines in PC Shipments

Paul Lilly

Yes, tablets and traditional PCs can coexist in the market place

You may find yourself wanting to gouge your eyeballs out with a used grapefruit spoon every time you see a headline declaring the end the end of the PC era. We're willing to concede that tablets and even smartphones have cut into traditional PC sales the last several quarters, and we haven't been shy about covering the decline in shipments , but the numbers just don't support the notion that the PC as you know is dead. Furthermore, at least one market research firm believes the market is close to bottoming out.

Let's back up a moment. In October, Gartner said that combined desktop, notebook, and ultramobile shipments were on pace to top 321.6 million units in 2013, versus 184.4 million tablet shipments. In 2014, Gartner expects PC shipments to stay virtually flat with 321.4 million shipments, while tablets enjoy continued growth with 263.2 million shipments.

The way we see it, tablets aren't replacing PCs, they're coexisting with them. Not only that, Gartner analyst Tracy Tsai told The Wall Street Journal that the days of double-digit declines in PC shipments are coming to an end. Tsai and company predict PC shipments will slow in the fourth quarter of 2013 to a 3 percent year-on-year drop, much better than the 8.6 percent decline noted in the third quarter.

"The decline is at a much slower rate," Tsai said. "The global economy is stabilizing. Also, there will be more lower-cost, aggressively priced two-in-one (tablet with a keyboard) devices that are being launched in the second half of this year, which should help demand."

This is all good news for an industry that's struggling to figure out how best to leverage both mobile and traditional PC sales. Acer Chairman J.T. Wang recently resigned after his company posted a record loss, and Michael Dell bought back the company he founded and made it private so that he wouldn't have to answer to shareholders. Meanwhile, Lenovo continues to post strong quarters with impressive desktop, notebook, and mobile PC sales figures.

In any event, the bottom line here is that the days of declining PC shipments seem to be nearing an end.

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