The PC market is set to shrink for the first time in more than a decade, research has found, as tablets enjoy a boom in popularity.
In 2012, the market for personal computers is due to contract by 1.2 per cent, with 349 million PC shipments due this year, down from 353 million in 2011, according to market research firm IHS iSuppli. It is the first time the PC market has been in decline since the 2001 dot-com bust.
The figures were revealed just a week ahead of the launch of Microsoft's new operating system, Windows 8, which is designed to work on both computers and tablets. Analysts will be keeping a close eye on the system to monitor its impact on the beleaguered PC market.
Unlike laptops and desktops, tablets have been enjoying a boom in sales. According to American research centre Pew, tablet use has risen steadily over the last year.
In July 2011, only 11 per cent of American adults had a tablet. By January 2012, that figure was 18 per cent, while in August 2012, the number had risen again to 25 per cent.
Craig Stice, an analyst at IHS iSuppli, said the usually lucrative back-to-season had failed to rescue computer manufacturers from a poor year.
“There was great hope through the first half that 2012 would prove to be a rebound year for the PC market,” he said.
“Now three quarters through the year, the usual boost from the back-to-school season appears to be a bust, and both AMD and Intel’s third-quarter outlooks appear to be flat to down.
"Optimism has vanished and turned to doubt, and the industry is now training its sights on 2013 to deliver the hoped-for rebound. All this is setting the PC market up for its first annual decline since the dot-com bust year of 2001.”
At the beginning of the year, it was thought that Intel-backed ultrabooks might push up sales of personal computers.
HS iSuppli had previously forecast that 22 million of the ultra slim laptops would be shipped by the end of 2012.
However, it now predicts that only 10.3 million will be sold because of high pricing and a lack of excitement about the format