PC shipments fell year-on-year during an unexpectedly weak first quarter, in a sign tablets are starting to carve a chunk out of the market.
Gartner estimated that shipments fell 1.1%, marking the first decline since mid-2009. The research firm had been predicting 3% growth for the quarter.
Gartner principal analyst Mikako Kitagawa said that low prices for consumer PCs failed to attract buyers during the quarter.
“Instead, consumers turned their attention to media tablets and other consumer electronics,” he said. “With the launch of the iPad 2 in February, more consumers either switched to buying an alternative device, or simply held back from buying PCs.”
Gartner said PC shipments in Asia Pacific grew 4.1% year-on-year to 28.2 million, but purchases by consumers were comparatively low, especially in Taiwan, China and India. In Japan, shipments fell 13.1%, with the Japanese earthquake and tsunami affecting sales.
IDC separately estimated a 3.2% decline in shipments for the quarter, compared to its forecast of 1.5% growth.
But IDC attributed the slump to a multitude of factors including the disruptions in Japan, a spike in commodity prices and growing saturation.
“While it's tempting to blame the decline completely on the growth of media tablets, we believe other factors... played equally significant roles,” IDC vice president Bob O'Donnell said.
IDC has Japanese shipments falling 15.9% in the first quarter, and APAC shipments growing 5.6%, a result still well below trend.