iPads should be counted in PC market trackers, claims analyst


Analysts such as Gartner and IDC should adjust their PC market trackers to include tablet shipments, in order to better reflect the changing nature of end users' device habits.

Tim Coulling, senior analyst at market watcher Canalys, said his firm is predicting a four per cent rise in PC shipments across the globe in 2013, despite other analysts painting a far bleaker picture of the market this year.

Earlier this month, Gartner warned that the PC market in Western Europe was in freefall, with shipments down 8.4 per cent in 2012 on the previous year.

We still don't see tablets as functional competitors to PCs.

Gartner's shipment data includes contributions from mobile and desktop PCs, but not "media tablets".

"Put simply, we include iPad and tablet shipments [in our forecasts], and we predict the shortfall in notebook sales will be made up for with tablets," Coulling told IT Pro.

The growing popularity of tablets in business environments, where they are no longer viewed as merely content consumption devices, means they are increasingly being used to carry out tasks previously performed on traditional PCs.

For this reason, Coulling said including the contributions tablets make to the overall PC market is the right thing to do.

"Otherwise, you're not getting a complete view of the market as a whole," he added.

Meanwhile, IDC has just released the latest edition of its Worldwide Quarterly PC Tracker, and said it expects PC shipments to decline by 1.3 per cent in 2013.

Like Gartner, its shipment figures do not take into account tablet devices, but instead cover desktop, notebooks and other types of portable PCs.

Looking back at 2012, it reported a 3.7 per cent shrink in worldwide shipments, as tablet devices continued to replace other types of PCs in the affections of users.

An 8.3 per cent year-on-year decline in PC shipments was recorded during Q4 2012, which IDC described as the most substantial decline ever recorded for the holiday quarter.

This has been attributed to the lacklustre market response to the release of Windows 8, as well as the ongoing "economic malaise" and its continued impact on IT budgets.

Loren Loverde, programme vice president for Worldwide PC Trackers at IDC, said PC market growth is predicted to slow across the board.

"Growth in emerging regions has slowed considerably, and we continue to see constrained PC demand as buyers favour other devices for their mobility and convenience features.

"We still don't see tablets (with limited local storage, file system, lesser focus on traditional productivity, etc.) as functional competitors to PCs but they are winning consumer dollars with mobility and consumer appeal nevertheless," Loverde added.

Caroline Donnelly is the news and analysis editor of IT Pro and its sister site Cloud Pro, and covers general news, as well as the storage, security, public sector, cloud and Microsoft beats. Caroline has been a member of the IT Pro/Cloud Pro team since March 2012, and has previously worked as a reporter at several B2B publications, including UK channel magazine CRN, and as features writer for local weekly newspaper, The Slough and Windsor Observer. She studied Medical Biochemistry at the University of Leicester and completed a Postgraduate Diploma in Magazine Journalism at PMA Training in 2006.