10m media tablets expected to ship in 2010

26 May 2010

Global PC sales are set to grow 22pc to total 376.6 million units this year out of which only 10 million will be media tablets. But the arrival of the media tablet is set to seriously disrupt the netbook market in the years ahead.

The arrival of media tablets like the iPad are unlikely to make a significant impact on netbook sales but they will hurt the netbook industry from 2013 onwards when their functionality will be more like netbooks, Gartner said.

Worldwide PC spending is forecast to reach US$245.4bn in 2010, up 12pc from 2009.

The worldwide home PC market will outpace the professional market with 29.5pc growth in 2010, while the professional PC market is projected to grow 13.1pc this year.

“PC demand in the consumer segment continues to strengthen even though the global economy remains uncertain. Consumers are now viewing PCs as necessities rather than luxury items,” said Ranjit Atwal, principal research analyst at Gartner.

“In the downturn, PCs remained the electronic device of choice on which to spend household income in mature markets, and we do not expect this to change either in 2010 or beyond.

“In the professional PC market, the aging life of PCs will drive replacements. Organisations will find it tougher to further extend PC life cycles without incurring more costs,” Atwal said.

“This, together with the adoption of Windows 7, will generate robust demand in the professional market. Larger businesses expect to start replacements in the second half of 2010, with the majority replaced in 2011. We now expect Windows 7 migration to last through 2012.”

Mini-notebooks or netbooks continue to grow rapidly, but their growth is showing signs of slowing as the submarket for them matures.

Worldwide netbook shipments are preliminarily forecast to total 41.8 million units in 2010, a 30pc increase from 2009 shipments of 32.1 million units. Mini-notebooks will account for 18.6pc of mobile PC shipments in 2010, but their share will steadily decline after this year, falling to 13.9pc of the mobile PC market in 2014.

“The mini-notebook segment will be impacted by increasingly competitive ultralow-voltage (ULV) products, the decreasing prices of all mobile PCs and the maturing preferences of consumers,” said Raphael Vasquez, research analyst at Gartner.

“Some consumers purchased mini-notebooks based solely on price. Many consumers are now choosing purchases up the price curve rather than at the bottom of it,” Vasquez said.

Device definitions

Gartner defines a tablet PC as having a touchscreen size of five inches or more, outfitted with a full-function operating system (OS), such as Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows XP or Mac OS X.

A media tablet is defined as a device that has a screen size of five inches or larger and is outfitted with a restricted-function OS, such as iPhone, Android and Chrome. Gartner includes tablet PCs in its PC market statistics and forecasts.

However, it excludes media tablets from both. Nonetheless, Gartner analysts said media tablets will impact the PC market, especially mini-notebooks, and the forecast reflects this.

Dell Streak

The Dell Streak

“Media tablets will not impact the mini-notebook segment this year,” Vasquez said. “However, media tablets, such as the iPad and similar devices, will significantly detract from mini-notebook shipments in 2013 and onward, when we expect their prices to be lower and, more importantly, their functionality to be more similar to mini-notebooks.”

In Gartner’s most likely scenario, about 10 million media tablets are expected to ship in 2010. Media tablets will have a more substantial place in the market than tablet PCs. Annual worldwide tablet PC shipments will reach about 2 million units in 2010 and may not surpass 3 million units until after 2012.

“On a regional basis, PC markets in Western Europe, China, and the US will generate more than half of 2010 PC shipment growth,” said George Shiffler, research director at Gartner.

“Over half of PC shipment growth in 2011 will come from the US and China. Coming into the first quarter of 2010, the Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) super-region lagged behind other regions.

“However, EMEA returned to strong growth earlier than expected, especially with the recovery of the Eastern Europe region. Even with the economic uncertainty in southern Europe, PC demand seems to be holding up, even though it is a little more volatile,” Shiffler

By John Kennedy

Topmost photo: The Archos tablet

Bottom photo: The Apple iPad


John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years