IPad, Rival Tablet Demand Crimping PC Growth, Gartner Says

Personal-computer shipments will grow at a slower pace than previously forecast as consumers reach for Apple Inc. (AAPL)’s iPad and other tablet devices, Gartner Inc. (IT) said.

Gartner lowered its projection for worldwide shipments this year to 387.8 million units, or 10.5 percent growth, from an earlier projection of 15.9 percent growth, according to a report today. The Stamford, Connecticut-based research firm cited decreased demand for laptop computers as the main reason.

The recalculation is also the result of a slowdown in China of mobile-PC sales, Gartner said. Laptops and simpler netbooks have driven growth in the global computer market during the past five years. Consumers who used those devices to e-mail and search the Web are now often turning to tablets. In addition, laptop owners are holding on to their machines longer instead of buying new ones, Gartner said.

“We expect growing consumer enthusiasm for mobile-PC alternatives, such as the iPad and other media tablets, to dramatically slow home mobile-PC sales, especially in mature markets,” said George Shiffler, a research director at Gartner.

In 2012, shipments will total 440.6 million units, a 13.6 percent increase from 2011 projections. That’s down from an earlier assumption of 14.8 percent growth.

Tablet Versus PC

Apple Chief Operating Officer Tim Cook, who met with analysts at Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. last week, said that tablet sales will eventually surpass those of personal computers. The growth will come mostly at the expense of netbooks, a category of smaller and inexpensive laptops that can handle basic tasks like Web surfing and e-mail, he said.

Apple introduced a new version of the iPad yesterday that’s thinner, lighter and faster because of a dual-core processor, which is found in many PCs. The price of the iPad 2 ranges from $499 to $829, depending on the model.

A host of competitors are also building tablets. Motorola Mobility Holdings Inc. introduced its Xoom last month, and Samsung Electronics Co. started selling the Galaxy Tab last year. Research In Motion Ltd. (RIMM) and Hewlett-Packard Co. (HPQ) also plan to sell tablets.

There are 102 tablets from 64 makers either on sale or in development, according to consulting firm PRTM.

To contact the reporter on this story: Adam Satariano in San Francisco at asatariano1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Tom Giles at tgiles5@bloomberg.net.

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