Yes, tablets are the new PCs

Gartner analyst Mikako Kitagawa says tablets have dramatically changed the device landscape for PCs by causing users to shift consumption to tablets rather than replacing older computers.

“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,” Kitagawa explained.

“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.”

According to the analyst, this transformation was triggered by the availability of compelling low-cost tablets in 2012, and will continue until the installed base of PCs declines to accommodate tablets as the primary consumption device.

Indeed, during the holiday season, consumers no longer viewed PCs as the number one gift item.

In addition, says, Kitagawa, the launch of Microsoft’s Windows 8 did not have a significant impact on PC shipments in the fourth quarter.

“Some PC vendors offered somewhat lackluster form factors in their Windows 8 offerings and missed the excitement of touch. [However], new products are coming to market, and this could drive churn within the installed base,” Kitagawa added.