Smartphones, tablets and the slow decline of the PC

IBM PC 5150

Smartphones and tablets are starting to take their toll on PC sales but Ultrabooks might still be the saviour for the market, according to research by Gartner.

IBM PC 5150
Credit: Wikimedia

The research company says that for the 7th quarter in a row sales of PCs have remained stagnant, as more consumers choose to spend their technology budgets on smartphones and tablets.

Gartner analyst, Mikako Kitagawa, described consumers’ new buying habits, says “Consumers are less interested in spending on PCs as there are other technology products and services, such as the latest smartphones and media tablets.”

In total, 87.5 million PCs were shipped in the second three months of 2012.

This could be troubling news for Hewlett-Packard.  The company is the largest seller of PCs with a market share of 14.9% but it’s facing increased competition from China’s Lenovo, which holds 14.7% of the market.  And with HP’s difficulty entering the tablet market with its TouchPad device there could be tough times ahead.

There’s good news for Google’s Nexus 7 partners, Asus, which should be in a good position by the end of the year.  Gartner says Asus had the best growth in the past year, especially in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa (EMEA).  Strong sales of notebooks fuelled this rise, and with the Nexus 7 due to launch in the next week or so Asus could see even stronger growth.

Speaking of Lenovo, Gartner says it was one of the best performing PC sellers over the past year, a feat it accomplished through aggressive pricing in the EMEA region. Lenovo’s growth has been somewhat disruptive and damaged both HP’s and Dell’s sales.

Gartner’s analysis offers some hope for the Ultrabook market -it says that while the PC market is saturated the Ultrabook market is still quite young, having only received a significant marketing push at in recent months.  The company says that at the moment only early adopters are opting for Ultrabooks.

Describing consumers’ “reduced interest in PCs” Gartner says “The major promotion of Ultrabooks could potentially change the market dynamics.” We’ll have to wait and see.


  1. I’m living with my grandparents this summer, and my grandpa asked me to help him research and shop for a new PC — he has an HP and wants to buy another one. I find that I’m having to bite my tongue when I want to suggest something other than a PC, since he hardly does anything on his computer that requires that system. He’s stuck in his ways, though, so we’ll be shopping for PCs soon. I imagine the older demographic provides a lot of the sales for PCs, outside of businesses. 

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Piers Dillon Scott
Piers Dillon-Scott is co-editor of The Sociable and writes about stuff he finds. He likes technology, media, and using the Oxford comma (because it just makes sense).