What Post-PC Era? PC Sales Growth Forecast
However, Gartner admits that overall shipments -- 368 million units or more over the year -- are still relatively weak as the market struggles to adapt to the disruptive effect of tablets and, specifically, the iPad.
"The use of applications such as e-mail, social networking and internet access, that were traditionally the domain of the PC, are now being used across media tablets and smartphones, making these devices in some cases more valued and attractive propositions," says Ranjit Atwal, research director at Gartner.
"Consumers will now look at a task that they have to perform, and they will determine which device will allow them to perform such a task in the most effective, fun and convenient way. The device has to meet the user needs not the other way round."
The pickup in PC sales will probably happen in the second half of the year, with the next generation of ultrabooks -- powered by Intel's Ivy Bridge processors -- now not likely to be available until June at the earliest, and Microsoft not expected to release Windows 8 until Q3.
"PCs will face more competition as we see new media tablets based on operating systems from Android and Microsoft, as well the new iPad. Moreover, we expect the shift to the personal cloud will also accelerate as consumers increasingly adopt cloud-based services as part of their digital ecosystem," Atwal said.
"The evolution of the personal cloud will challenge vendors across all mobile devices markets and add to the hurdles for PC vendors to overcome to revive the PCs and differentiate them from tablets. The creation of content capabilities of PCs may not be enough to counteract the better content consumption capabilities of media tablets."
Gartner's PC and Media Tablet Forecast Update, 1Q 2012 does predict a better year in 2013 for PCs, though, when sales could break the 400 million mark.