Fewer PCs shipped in Q1 (take one guess why)

IDC, Gartner both report a decline in global shipments from first quarter of 2010

In what should become a quarterly ritual in the foreseeable future, top tech research firms show a decline in personal computer shipments for the first quarter.

IDC pegged global PC shipments at 80.6 million units, a 3.2 percent decline from the first quarter of 2010, while Gartner reported a 1.1 percent drop-off in global PC shipments to 84.25 million units.

Get used to these kinds of stories as tablet computers continue to draw consumer dollars away from PCs.

In a statement accompanying Gartner's data, analyst Mikako Kitagawa said "low prices for consumer PCs, which had long stimulated growth, no longer attracted buyers."

"Instead, consumers turned their attention to media tablets and other consumer electronics. 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. We're investigating whether this trend is likely to have a long-term effect on the PC market."

Just a wild guess, but I think Gartner's investigation will determine that "this trend" will indeed have a long-term impact on PC sales.

Gartner also said that strong PC sales in the professional sector, "driven by the replacement cycle," may have helped avert "one of the worst declines in its recent history."

IDC, meanwhile, doesn't attribute the decline in PC sales entirely to the rise of alternative devices.

"While it's tempting to blame the decline completely on the growth of media tablets," said Bob O'Donnell, IDC program vice president of clients and displays, "we believe other factors, including extended PC lifetimes and the lack of compelling new PC experiences, played equally significant roles."

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