2012 Outlook – PC market will plod as smartphones, tablets tighten their grip…
Recent research from Gartner shows that this year will finally provide good news for beleaguered PC manufacturers in the form of a 4.4% gain in market size, up to 368m shipments globally. Though not a huge increase this is still up from the 352.8m units shipped in 2011, that being a 0.5% increase over the previous year.
In the last two years PC vendors have faced significant challenges; a difficult climate with a lethargic economy, supply constraints, and vigorous increasing competition from the likes of smartphones and tablets, that challenge the status quo and how people interact with technology.
“The use of applications such as e-mail, social networking, and internet access, which were traditionally the domain of the PC, are now being used across media tablets and smartphones, making these devices in some cases, more valued and attractive propositions” Gartner research director Ranjit Atwal said in a statement. “Consumers will now look at a task that they have to perform, and they will determine which device will allow them to perform such a task in the most effective, fun and, convenient way.”
This increasing shift to a multi device experience is as exciting as it is challenging. Manufacturers, content creators and marketers will no doubt battle to understand how user habits and experiences are changing and serve up the very best hardware, software and experience to cater for it.
This will take time and it’s likely that this development phase for smartphones and tablets and the impact of ultrabooks and Windows 8 could turn 2013 into a kinder, gentler year for the PC industry. Gartner is forecasting that shipments will rise to 400 million next year, an 8.5 percent gain from 2012.
“PC shipments will remain weak in 2012, as the PC market plays catch up in bringing a new level of innovation that consumers want to see in devices they purchase,” Atwal said. “The real question is whether Windows 8 and ultrabooks will create the compelling offering that gets the earlier adopter of devices excited about PCs again.”
As mature markets will continue to replace existing PCs rather than buy new ones, leaving it up to emerging markets to rev up sales, Gartner sees emerging markets as the key to global PC growth both this year and beyond.
“Our expectation is that 2012 and then 2013 onwards will be supported by growth in emerging markets as their share increases from just over 50 percent in 2011 to nearly 70 percent in 2016,” Atwal said. “Emerging markets have very low PC penetration and even with the availability of other devices we still expect a steady uptake of PCs.”
Still, the industry will continue to face challenges from the heavy demand for mobile devices and the speed at which the technology (both hardware and software) is developing and consumer’s user habits are changing will continue to change the outlook.
“Competition from the new iPad, Android tablets, and Windows 8 tablets will rise up this year. And as more people turn to the cloud to store content, PC vendors will need to better distinguish their products from tablets” Atwal added.