The shift to smartphones and tablets became a landslide this year,
crushing desire for laptop computers and pressuring manufacturers to
adapt to the mobile Internet era.
The trend promised to gain momentum
in 2013, with people using handheld gadgets to remain connected to the
Web on the go and switching to sophisticated systems in homes or
"Tablets will not kill PCs (personal computers),"
Forrester Research analyst Frank Gillett told AFP. "Tablets will force
them to evolve."
Signs that the evolution is underway include
Microsoft overhauling Windows to synch the world's most widely used
computer operating system with tablets and smartphones as well as
desktops and laptops.
Microsoft is even selling its own Surface tablet based on the Windows 8 software released in October.
"I don't think the PC is going away," said analyst Rob Enderle of Enderle Group in Silicon Valley.
"What is clear is we are going through some turmoil; the market is resetting itself around new products."
people opt for tablets instead of laptops for computing on the move,
they will yearn for bigger screens and more processing power when they
settle down for "real work," according to analysts.
can do so much that fewer people need laptops, but when you get to your
desktop you want something that contrasts significantly from your
tablet," Gillett said.
"I think we will ultimately see the reinvention of PCs."
described a future in which people go seamlessly from working on mobile
devices to desktop stations where tablets can be docked and augmented
with sensors, processors, bigger screens and more.
He refers to the concept as "frames" for computing.
analyst contends that the limping economy is among factors behind a
temporary lull in PC purchases destined to end as people "go through
this illusion they will do it all on a tablet and realize they can't."
will substitute for some, even many, laptops but because a tablet can't
do as much as a laptop it will eventually stimulate PC sales," Gillett
"What ultimately happens here is that the laptop and desktop get rethought and re-invented for a tablet world."
market for tablets and smartphones is red-hot, leaving the PC as an
afterthought for many. Microsoft, which was the biggest tech firm in
2009 because of its dominant Windows operating system for PCs, has
fallen behind Apple and is struggling to remain a major force amid gains
by Google and Amazon.
Onetime giants like Hewlett-Packard and
Dell are struggling amid sluggish demand as sales of tablet computers
and other devices surge.
However, Enderle pointed out, China-based Lenovo is thriving by selling the gamut of computing devices.
is showing success in all categories, supporting the notion that while
the market has more products it is all still personal computing,"
"Before we were buying a laptop or desktop computer," he continued. "Now, we are increasingly carrying many products."
firm IDC projects global PC sales this year of 367 million, up just a
fraction of a percent from 2011 and marking the second consecutive year
of growth below two percent. ABI Research predicts tablet computers will
overtake notebook PCs by 2016.
Roger Kay of Endpoint Technologies
Associates said that the PC "still is pretty relevant" but "not the
center of the computing universe."
"I think people are going to
choose a pantheon of devices, and all of these are connected through the
cloud so the user is now the center of the tech universe."
than 32 million tablets were shipped worldwide in the third quarter of
2012, a 75 percent increase from the same period a year earlier,
according to Futuresource Consulting.
Futuresource projected that
global tablet shipments this year would hit 137 million units and nearly
triple during the coming five years.
"We're seeing significant
industry growth across all key world territories, with the majority of
tablet market activity still originating from consumer purchases," said
Simon Bryant of Futuresource.
Part of the success of tablets was
attributed to the average price dropping below $400, due in large part
to competition between device makers using free Android operating
software from Google.
"Tablets continue to captivate consumers," said Tom Mainelli, research director for tablets at IDC.