Tablet demand to pad up global PC sales

Global PC market expected to grow 14 percent driven largely by demand for tablet devices, according to Canalys. Analyst also urges companies not to "dismiss opportunity" of utilizing tablets in enterprise arena.
Written by Tyler Thia, Contributor

The personal computer (PC) market is expected to register a year-on-year growth of 14 percent, fueled largely by the demand for tablet devices, according to Canalys. Companies should thus take advantage of this trend and embrace tablets for the enterprise space, it urged.

According to a study released by the research firm on Wednesday, shipments of tablet computers will see an increase to 52 million, with Apple accounting for more than 75 percent of this market, leaving the remaining 12 million units to its competitors.

Drilling down on these figures, the study estimated that consumers worldwide will purchase an approximate 50.5 million devices. This rise represents over 200 percent increase on 2010's sales figures. Enterprises, on the other hand, will see a 5000 percent jump in tablet device purchases although the actual sales figure will come up to about 1.1 million tablets.

As more enterprises adopt tablets for work, Canalys principal analyst Daryl Chiam urged companies that are still considering "not to dismiss the opportunity".

"The number of affluent, highly-mobile executives buying pads will increase quickly in 2011," he told ZDNet Asia during a phone interview. "Likewise, vertical market adoption of pads, especially in healthcare and education, will gain momentum, as more appropriate applications are built."

Notebook, netbook sales to suffer
Unlike other research firms such as IDC and Gartner, Canalys considers tablets a PC as these devices are usually 7 inches or more, have ample processing power, a good ecosystem of applications and usually compete in the same market as desktops and laptops, Chiam explained.

With this in mind, fellow Canalys analyst Tim Coulling said in the report: "Tablets are disrupting the PC refresh cycle in highly penetrated markets."

Tablets' "innovative user experience has captured the imagination of consumers" at the expense of traditional PC, and as people utilize these tablets more, the refresh rate for existing PCs has also slowed, he added.  

As such, for every 10 tablets sold this year, an average of 5 netbook or notebook sales will be lost, both in the consumer and enterprise markets.This trend will be "most pronounced in developed markets", such as the United States, United Kingdom, Australia and Japan, the study showed.

However, notebook demand will still grow 8 percent in 2011, due partly to the "the ongoing Windows 7 refresh" and improving business sentiments in the enterprise sectors. Netbooks, however, will decline 13 percent to 34 million units.

The research firm added that due to "overstocked retail channels" in countries such as Western Europe, China and Indonesia, notebook growth will remain stagnant in the first part of the year. As for the Middle East and North Africa regions, growth is being negatively impacted by ongoing political revolutions and protests as markets have come to a virtual stop.

Japan, meanwhile, is still reeling from last Friday's earthquake and its market is expected to experience short-term disruptions to the PC supply chain. This, in turn, will create a small but noticeable impact on the global PC shipments, the study noted.

However, in countries such as Brazil, Russia, India, Indonesia, Turkey and China where Apple's reach is limited, the netbook and notebook industries are likely to be spared.

Chiam said: "In many of these countries, the iPad 2 will be delayed by the need for regulatory approval, and sales may also be restricted by the lack of localized iTunes stores."

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