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Microsoft Pri0

Welcome to Microsoft Pri0: That's Microspeak for top priority, and that's the news and observations you'll find here from Seattle Times technology reporter Matt Day.

January 14, 2013 at 8:20 AM

Gartner: Decline in PC sales signals shift to tablets as primary consumption device

Research firm Gartner today released figures indicating that worldwide PC shipments for the fourth quarter of 2012 declined 4.9 percent from the year-ago period.

That decline can’t be attributed solely to a weak economy, according to Gartner analysts, who said the downward shift points to people increasingly turning to tablets as their main consumption device.

“Whereas as once we imagined a world in which individual users would have both a PC and a tablet as personal devices, we increasingly suspect that most individuals will shift consumption activity to a personal tablet, and perform creative and administrative tasks on a shared PC,” Gartner analyst Mikako Kitagawa said in a news release. “There will be some individuals who retain both, but we believe they will be exception and not the norm. Therefore, we hypothesize that buyers will not replace secondary PCs in the household, instead allowing them to age out and shifting consumption to a tablet.”

Furthermore, Windows 8, which Microsoft launched in late October, did significantly impact PC shipments, according to Gartner, which called some manufacturers’ Windows 8 offerings lackluster.

Here’s Gartner’s chart:

GartnerPC4Q.png

Gartner’s findings are in line with those recently released by other research firms.

IDC last week released its findings that worldwide PC shipments declined 6.4 percent in the fourth quarter of 2012. That was worse than its forecasted 4.4 percent and the first time in more than five years that the PC market saw a year-on-year decline during the holiday season, according to the IDC news release.

IDC also concluded that the launch of Windows 8 didn’t have an immediate, significant impact on PC demand.

Canalys said last week that combined shipments of desktops, netbooks and notebooks showed a 10 percent decline in the fourth quarter of 2012. Canalys predicted the combined Windows-Intel-based PCs to decline from 72 percent of the market to 65 percent in 2013, representing a 5 percent decline in unit shipments. (Canalys measures things a bit differently than Gartner and IDC. Canalys includes tablets in its estimates of PC market shipments.)

“The launch of Windows 8 did not reinvigorate the market in 2012, and is expected to have a negative effect as we move into 2013,” analyst Tom Evans said in a Canalys news release. “Windows 8 is so different from previous versions that most consumers will be put off by the thought of having to learn a new OS.”

Microsoft, meanwhile, said last week that it’s sold 60 million Windows 8 licenses — a sales trajectory it characterized as similar to that of Windows 7. Licenses include sales to PC manufacturers as well as upgrades.

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