Apple's iPad and the tablet revolution are beating at the gates of the traditional PC sector, biting into the category and bringing uncertainty about the future of the industry.
The worldwide PC market suffered a 1.1 percent decline, with 84.3 million units sold in the first quarter of this year, according to technology research firm Gartner. Forecasts had called for 3 percent growth in PC shipments worldwide for the quarter.
Gartner analyst Mikako Kitagawa blamed the slowdown in PC shipments on "the hype around tablets."
Gartner's report underscores the change in consumer buying trends that's under way as people around the world turn to tablets for mobile Internet consumption. The data also mark the first year-over-year worldwide PC decline in six quarters. The story for PCs in the United States was even more grim: a 6.1 percent decline from a year ago.
The quarter following the Christmas buying season is traditionally slow for PC sales. But the holiday hangover this year was especially hard for the likes of Hewlett-Packard, Acer and Dell, whose shipments declined 3.4 percent, 12.2 percent and 2.2 percent, respectively.
Acer was hardest hit because its netbook segment was affected the most by the tablet market's rise.
Across the U.S., PC makers logged huge declines, with the exception of Toshiba and Apple. The Mac maker was the biggest winner, bagging 18.9 percent gains and 9.3 percent of the market. Toshiba tacked on 10.9 percent growth, to bump up to 10.4 percent of the U.S. market.
Gartner's report found that the launch of the iPad 2 had more consumers either buying an alternative device to a personal computer or simply holding back from buying a PC altogether. "The tablet and consumer electronics devices' effect on PCs will depend on how the tablet market and smartphone continues to evolve going forward," Kitagawa said. "There are a lot of uncertainties in the market."
Gartner forecasts Apple will ship nearly 48 million iPads worldwide this year.
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