Gartner Lowers PC Sales Forecast

PC shipments are projected to increase by 15.3% year over year in the second half, about 2% less than Gartner's previous forecast, due to the uncertainty in the U.S. and European economies.
Meanwhile, the market impact of netbooks is waning. Shipments of the inexpensive mini-laptops that accounted for nearly 20% of the mobile PC market during the recession fell to less than 18% of the market in the second quarter, Gartner said. By late 2014, netbooks are expected to account for about 10% of the market. That's good news for manufacturers, since the cheap systems' popularity drove down average selling prices for the industry and narrowed profit margins.

"We still think the mini-notebook has a place in the mobile PC market, but not as a substitute for a standard mobile PC," Gartner analyst Raphael Vasquez said. "Indeed, the recent decline in mini-notebooks' share of the mobile PC market reflects a general realization among buyers that mini-notebooks are less-than-perfect substitutes for standard low-end laptops."

Rather than buy a netbook, people are turning to low-end standard laptops, which have prices that are close enough to make them a better option as an only PC. Gartner says netbooks are becoming a niche product as a second, more portable PC that someone may carry for checking email or web browsing. Within that niche, netbooks are expected to face growing competition from the emerging category of tablet-style computers, such as Apple's iPad. Major computer makers, such as Dell and Hewlett-Packard, are preparing to release their own tablets.

"The iPad hasn't had much of an impact on mini-notebook units so far, if only because it is generally priced higher than most mini-notebooks," Gartner researcher George Shiffler said. "However, we anticipate lower-priced iPad imitations will begin to take larger bites out of mini-notebook units as they are released next year." FURTHER READING:

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