Tablet sales cannibalising desktop PCs

TOMORROW’S Apple announcement could bring more bad news for the desktop computer market, with the Cupertino-based company expected to reveal the third generation iPad and trigger a tablet shopping frenzy.

When the iPad 2 was launched this time last year, online marketplace eBay sold 5,000 more tablets in March than in February as iPad-hungry shoppers took to the internet.

EBay spotted a similar surge after Amazon’s Kindle Fire hit the market late last year, leading the shopping website to sell 22,000 more tablet devices in November than in October, although the figures were also bolstered by the usual pre-Christmas gift boom.

Overall, tablet and e-reader sales on eBay.co.uk increased by a staggering 443 per cent last year, while demand for more conventional desktop personal computers dropped by 35 per cent.

Research firm Gartner spotted this trend too, noting last month that PC shipments to the UK dropped by 19.6 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2011, marking the fifth consecutive quarterly decline as economic headwinds and the rapid rise of tablets and e-readers took their tolls on the PC industry.

Apple is known for the block-circling queues its new products whip up, and with the expected launch of the latest generation iPad tomorrow more customers could be attracted to the online marketplace.

EBay sells an item per second on its app while its website attracts 17m unique monthly visitors. The internet company, which started out as an online auction house, now sells 61 per cent of its items at a fixed price rather than via competitive bidding.