Despite the launch of Apple's new iPad device on Wednesday, the PC market is still expected to grow by 4.4 per cent in 2012, according to new figures from Gartner, although the threat from tablet devices remains high.
The firm said this rise, which is a slight reduction from an earlier report predicting growth of 4.5 per cent, would see shipments hit 368 million in 2012, rising to over 400 million in 2013.
However, while this growth is good news for vendors, the rate of growth is not enough to stem the tide against the popularity of tablets and smartphones, as Gartner research director Ranjit Atwal noted.
"This is certainly an improvement on last year's figures which basically flatlined, but it's still nowhere near the 10 per cent growth figures we were seeing a few years ago," he told V3.
"The market has changed a lot since then with the functionality of PCs, which always used to be seen as all-singing, all-dancing devices, now under threat from tablets and smartphones."
Atwal said another key issue affecting PC vendors is the rise of digital cloud platforms, which allow consumers to store content online to access on-the-go.
"Many people have no need for large offline storage systems, with photos, music, document and so forth all being hosted in the cloud, which users want to access on-the-go from different devices that suit them depending on the situation," he said.
"A lot of the success for PCs, particularly ultrabooks, therefore will come down to if users actually want just one device that allows them do access and interact with their data online, or if they prefer using multiple devices."
Atwal added that Windows 8 could also reinvigorate PC sales, but that to compete with Apple and Google it will have to make sure the entire ecosystem meets user demand.
"The use of tablets is not just about the devices themselves but about the applications and other services that users can use, so for Microsoft to compete, and by extension hardware vendors, the Windows 8 system must be more than just a new interface," he said.
The Windows 8 Consumer Preview has so far been downloaded over one million times but first impressions of the operating system are that many may find it a hugely disconcerting experience compared to the traditional Windows interface.
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