Motorola Xoom
Gartner lowers forecast for PC shipments over the next two years

Tablets, once relegated to only the dark corners of the consumer electronics market, are shaking off their awkward teenage years and are coming into their own -- so much so that they're cutting into analysts forecasts of future PC shipments.

Gartner significantly lowered its forecast for worldwide PC shipments, from 15.9 percent to 10.5 percent for this year, and from 14.8 percent to 13.6 percent for 2012, Information Week reports.

Gartner cites two main reasons for the diminished forecasts: tablets' growth and laptops' limitations. Tablets, like the forthcoming iPad 2 and Motorola Xoom, are being marketed so well that consumers are beginning to consider them as viable options for their mobile computing needs. Meanwhile, laptops remain heavy and suffer from weak battery life, making them less mobile than the slab alternative.

"For a long time the computing universe was PC centric," Gartner analyst George Shiffler told Information Week. "That era is definitely done."

Goldman Sachs predicts even more severe results for PCs. In a December study, the investment bank predicted that the PC market would grow by only 8 percent this year, with tablets replacing one in every three PCs.

And while the market is certainly shifting, don't expect mobile PCs to go away anytime soon. "By the time this all plays out in three or four years, the mobile PC will take a little bit of a hit, but it's still going to be hanging in there as an important part of people's device collection," Shiffler said. People who need to create content will continue to do so on PCs, while those looking to consume will opt for tablets.

"The Space Elevator will be built about 50 years after everyone stops laughing" -- Sir Arthur C. Clarke
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