According to market research firms Gartner, Inc. and IDC, 2010 was not a great year for PC sales
. Well, perhaps that's an oversimplification. PC sales in the fourth quarter of 2010 rose, but not nearly as much as the research firms had expected. Shipments of PCs have risen steadily over the years, as prices have come down and access to computers has become all but required for everything from schoolwork to paying bills. The exact numbers vary between the two firms, but both put the rise in PC sales during Q4 at about three-percent over the same time frame last year, a significantly smaller increase than expected. In total, the number of PCs shipped in 2010 rose 13.6-percent over 2009, which only highlights how disappointing the fourth quarter sales were.
IDC and Gartner blame this downslide on lower-than-expected consumer demand, as well as on the emergence of the iPad
and other tablet
devices, which have captured the public's attention. The extent to which tablets are cutting into PC sales is unclear, but the iPad alone sold more than seven million units in its first six months. (By contrast 93 million PCs were sold in Q4.) There is concern among PC makers that tablet sales will continue to grow and erode PC sales, but it's entirely possible that devices like the iPad may enjoy a (relatively) brief surge in sales before falling out of favor, as netbooks