Gartner: PC shipments to grow by 20 percent this year

Tablets such as Apple's iPad could change the status quo of the PC market

Gartner has raised its worldwide PC shipment forecast for this year, predicting growth of 20 percent compared to 2009, partly driven by growth in shipments of mobile devices like laptops and netbooks.

The analyst firm in December predicted worldwide PC shipments to grow by 13.3 percent this year. Gartner is now saying PC shipments will total 366.1 million units in 2010, compared to 305.8 million units shipped in 2009.

"The PC industry will be overwhelmingly driven by mobile PCs, thanks to strong home growth in both emerging and mature markets," said George Shiffler, research director at Gartner, in a statement. Shipments of netbooks, which Gartner calls mini-notebooks, will also grow in 2010, but not at the rate of previous years. The devices could face competition from next-generation tablets and new laptops with ultra-low-voltage processors, Shiffler said.

Mobile devices accounted for 55 percent of all PC shipments in 2009, and will account for close to 70 percent of shipments by 2012. By comparison, desktop PC shipment growth will be minimal and limited to emerging markets. The market will remain robust over the next few years as consumer demand for PCs increases and companies open up budgets to upgrade PCs.

Gartner also said its "initial thinking" is that vendors could ship up to 10.5 million traditional, keyboard-based tablets and next-generation tablet devices this year.

Apple's iPad is one of many new devices coming to market that could change the PC market, Gartner said. The iPad bundles Web surfing, multimedia, e-book reading and gaming into one device. It is due to ship later this month.

Users may no longer need a PC to access Web applications, and the emergence of new devices is changing the way PC makers think about the market, Gartner said.

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