Tablet shipments continue to rise and are expected to be almost in line with PC shipments by 2014, according to a Gartner report issued Monday.
According to Gartner, tablet shipments will grow 67.9 percent to reach 202 million units by the end of the year. As the forecast for the number of desktops and notebooks shipped worldwide is expected to drop 10.6 percent from last year, Gartner's projections put tablet sales neck-and-neck with PCs by 2014 -- with an estimated 289 million PCs shipped compared to about 276 million tablets.
Carolina Milanesi, research vice president at Gartner, said that mobility is "paramount" to established and developing markets alike. "Consumers want anytime-anywhere computing that allows them to consume and create content with ease, but also share and access that content from a different portfolio of products," Milanesi said.
Gartner's estimates are based in part on a drop in PC sales recorded for the first quarter of the year, which the Stamford, Conn.-based research firm said is the result of a change in buyer needs and preferences as well as market adjustments in anticipation of new products announced for the latter part of the year.
Robert Robinson, vice president of Computer Upgrade King, a Powhatan, Va.-based VAR, said he's felt the shift in the industry. "We are noticing an increase in demand with tablets, and we are not alone, as the Amazon Best Seller rankings certainly show that tablets are becoming the most popular computers on the market today," Robinson said.
Amazon's list is ranked by revenue, and tablets don't accumulate as much profit per unit as a "traditional computer," Robinson said, which goes to show the "volume" of tablets being sold.
"When we listed a popular Asus and Lenovo tablet on Amazon, ... all 50+ of our stock on both models sold out in a matter of a day, if not hours," Robinson said. "If it wasn't for the slim margin on tablet sales, we would focus much of our energies on selling them. As it stands though, most of the money to be made by resellers is in the bundled services."
Because of this discrepancy, Robinson said many distributors like Tech Data's TDMobility group are "providing assistance to those resellers wishing to bundle services in with tablet sales."
Gartner also noted an increase in demand for "ultramobiles," such as Chromebooks and other upgraded or "premium" tablets such as the iPad, Galaxy Tab 10.1 and those running Windows 8, which feature a "light clamshell design."
The tech research company said the numbers should be more solidified later this year when new Intel processors combined with Windows 8.1 hit the market.
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