Forecasts for PC sales cut further as tablets boom

A LEADING technology researcher has cut its forecasts for global PC sales, piling even greater pressure on the likes of Hewlett Packard and Microsoft.

Gartner said yesterday that it expects PC sales to be 305m this year – a 10.6 cent decline on 2012 – followed by sales of 289m in 2014. This is an even gloomier picture than the one the research firm painted just two months ago, when Gartner said PC sales will be 315m this year and 302m in 2014.

The meteoric rise of the tablet computer, led by Apple’s iPad, has eaten into PC sales, and the market declined for the first time in a decade last year.

“Consumers want anytime-anywhere computing that allows them to consume and create content with ease,” said Gartner’s Carolina Milanesi. “Mobility is paramount in both mature and emerging markets.”

While Gartner cut its predictions for PC sales, it upped forecasts for tablets. The firm said tablet sales will rise from 120m last year to 202m this year. And in 2014, tablets will be close to outselling PCs, with sales hitting 276m.

The revised forecasts suggest that Microsoft’s new software, Windows 8, is unlikely to reinvigorate the flagging PC market. However, it predicted that combined shipments of mobile phones, tablets and PCs running Microsoft software would actually improve in 2014 after declines in 2012 and 2013, as more consumers buy tablets and smartphones running the Windows software.

But even as Microsoft steadies, its grip on the market is set to wane. Sales of devices running Google’s Android software are expected to almost double between 2012 and 2014, with sales hitting 1.06bn next year compared to Microsoft’s 378m. Sales of Apple products are expected to almost match Microsoft in 2014, hitting 355m.

Mobile phone sales, meanwhile, will grow from 2.2bn in 2012 to 2.5bn in 2014.