Global shipments of personal computers shrunk anew in the June quarter, underscoring the weakening interest on the device that has been the tech world's hero product since Apple, IBM and Microsoft launched their initial units in the early 1980s.
According to industry tracker Gartner, "the PC market suffered through its seventh consecutive quarter of flat to single-digit growth," as shipments from leading manufacturers totalled only to 87.5 million units by the end of Q2 2012.
While the latest decline was only measured at 0.1 per cent, it pointed to global consumers' consistent weaning away from the traditional PC units - desktops and notebooks - due to the increasing popularity of tablet computers and smartphones.
The two portable gadgets pretty much offer the same functionality and productivity that users have enjoyed when they first obtained their PC units, which were the basic reasons cited by analysts in explaining the changing landscape of the PC hardware business.
"Consumers are less interested in spending on PCs as there are other technology products and services, such as the latest smartphones and media tablets that they are purchasing," Gartner analyst Mikako Kitagawa was reported by the Australian Associated Press (AAP) as saying on Thursday.
What she meant was notwithstanding the latest incarnation of PCs - all-in-one desktop units and the sleek and sexy ultrabooks - shoppers seemed to have developed predilection on smartphones and tablets, which duly delivered what they paid for.
The ubiquitous gadgets allow owners to check the mail, answer important ones and then browse through the web for helpful information while on-the-go since they can carry the devices whenever they choose to and wherever they go.
Of course, the products function too as entertainment tools that effectively kill idle moments in between work and break times.
And so, tablets and smartphones have been attracting the most buys in computer products since the last quarter of 2010, Garner said.
The general economic condition was not helping too, the new report said, as budget-conscious consumers opted to purchase the relatively cheaper tablets and smartphones, an emerging trend that in the past few quarters have shored up the fortunes of Asian firms such as Asus, Lenovo and Samsung.
These companies, Gartner said, now relish the result of their early adoption tactic when Apple first redefined the consumer electronics competition by introducing the iPad and the iPhone, which set the stage for succeeding portable products afterwards.
All three firms were also noted to enjoy considerable success in selling traditional PCs and the new hip devices and in Samsung's case, it actually bested Apple in the smartphone competition as of March this year.
Lenovo, on the other hand, has been intruding on turfs that were previously dominated by giant U.S. PC makers such as Hewlett-Packard and Dell through "aggressive expansion (that) damaged its competitor's performance."
The Chinese PC maker still trails HP as the global leader but it could only be a matter of time before it ascends to the top, Gartner said, with its latest market share of 14.7 percent.
Taiwan's Asus also turned in remarkable figures in the period as its total shipments soared by more than 38 per cent, the largest in fact among vendors in the quarter, the research firm said.
Gartner's new report was issued in the aftermath of an earlier study that predicted the eventual rise of tablets and smartphones as the likely pacesetters in the overall PC market over the next four years.
The same report also suggested that PC sales will continue to grow but definitely with overhauled offerings in the future.
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