Gartner cuts 2011 PC forecast as tablets surge

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – A second big market research firm has cut its estimate for global PC sales this year, due in part to the growing popularity of tablets like Apple Inc’s iPad over small laptops.

Gartner Inc said Wednesday it now expects PC sales to grow 9.3 percent this year, down from its previous forecast of 10.5 percent, owing to economic uncertainties as well as a lack of compelling PC products.

“Mini-notebook shipments have noticeably contracted over the last several quarters, and this has substantially reduced overall mobile PC unit growth,” said Ranjit Atwal, research director at Gartner.

“Media tablets such as the iPad have also impacted mobile growth,” Atwal said.

On Monday, market researcher IDC said it expects worldwide PC shipments to increase just 4.2 percent this year, down from its February estimate of 7.1 percent.

Intel Corp, the world’s largest chipmaker and a barometer for the health of the PC industry, said on Monday it was standing by its business outlook for the second quarter.

“Regarding expectations for PC shipments, our results will speak for themselves,” Intel spokeswoman Laura Anderson told Reuters in an email.

Intel in April forecast second-quarter revenue of $12.8 billion, more than analysts had expected.

The Santa Clara, California, company said market research firms have failed to take into account the growing importance of China and other emerging markets when forecasting PC sales.

Intel says emerging markets will fuel expanding PC sales for years as more and more consumers become able to afford laptops. It says investors have punished the company’s stock on expectations that tablets will eat into PC sales.

Top vendors of mini-notebooks such as Acer Inc and Asustek have suffered in recent quarters from the shift toward tablets. (Reporting by Noel Randewich in San Francisco and Tarmo Virki in Tallinn, Estonia; editing by Dan Lalor and John Wallace)