Gartner: Tablets take up PC sales slack

Tablet PCs are becoming the major driver of global device sales after traditional PC sales fell for the seventh consecutive quarter in the fourth quarter of 2013, according to new research from Gartner.

The company said preliminary figures for the final three months of 2013 show PC sales fell 6.9 per cent year-on-year to 82.6 million units – the biggest fall in the market's history. However, Gartner analysts predict the decline in mature markets is now bottoming out, as the shift to smartphones and tablet PCs is largely complete.

"Strong growth in tablets continued to negatively impact PC growth in emerging markets," said Mikako Kitagawa, principal analyst at Gartner, adding: "In emerging markets, the first connected device for consumers is most likely a smartphone, and their first computing device is a tablet."

PC shipments in EMEA fell 6.7 per cent year-on-year in the fourth quarter of 2013, Gartner said. However, the company noted that the fall was less steep than in the previous seven quarters. Gartner added that tablet PCs proved a popular gift in the run up to Christmas, with Android-powered devices topping the lists.

The research firm has previously tipped Android to dominate shipments across all device sectors in 2014, forecasting the software will have a billion users by the end of the year.

Canalys also recently predicted Android would be dominant in 2014, and said it expected the operating system to grab a 65 per cent share of tablet sales. The research company said tablets accounted for 40 per cent of global PC sales in 2013, and predicts shipments will hit 285 million units in 2014 – by far the largest category in the overall PC market.

A new breed of low-cost units is also fuelling rising tablet sales. UK retailer Tesco, for example, is enjoying success with its £120 (€144) Hudl tablet, revealing last week it has sold 400,000 units since it launched in August, an estimated 100,000 of which were shipped in December alone.

For more:
- see this Gartner release
- see this separate Gartner release
- see this Canalys release

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