PC sales slide to continue thanks to tablet boom

SALES of PCs are doomed to an irreversible decline following their peak two years ago due to the growing popularity of tablet computers, research from technology analysts Gartner warned yesterday.

The firm predicted that the once hugely profitable PC industry will continue to contract until at least 2017, and sales will be overtaken by tablets such as Apple’s iPad and the Amazon Kindle Fire within two years.

The projections are further bad news for the likes of Dell, the struggling PC manufacturer at the centre of rival takeover bids. 2012 saw the first decline in global PC shipments for a decade as the tablet market boomed, and Gartner warned that this was not a dip caused by squeezes to household incomes but an irreversible decline. The figures will add fuel to Dell founder Michael Dell’s argument that he needs to take the company private in order to be given the time to turn it around.

Tablets drive PC sales crash

“Users in emerging markets who are looking for a companion to their mobile phone will increasingly choose a tablet as their first computing device and not a PC,” Ranjit Atwal, a research director at Gartner, said. The firm predicted that PC sales will fall from 315m this year to 302m in 2014 and 272m in 2017. By 2015, they will have been overtaken by sales of tablets, which will more than double between this year and 2017.

Despite the PC gloom, Gartner predicted that combined sales of PCs, tablets, ultraportable laptops known as ultrabooks, and mobile phones will continue to rise over the coming years from 2.41bn this year to 2.96bn in 2017. This will be mainly driven by rocketing sales for budget smartphones and tablets running Google’s Android operating system in developing markets. Gartner predicts that sales of Android devices will grow by 70 per cent between now and 2017 to 1.5bn, with Microsoft and Apple vying for second place.