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The iPad is threatening to wreak havoc on the personal-computer market with as many as 70 million sets to be sold in 2011, a total that will balloon to 246 million in three years, according to investment banker Jefferies & Co.Jefferies notes that Hewlett-Packard’s consumer PC sales plunged 23 percent last quarter, and the company lopped US$1 billion off its annual sales forecast. And while rival Dell beat analysts’ estimates because of corporate demand, its sales to consumers slumped 7.5 percent.

With its colour screen and an array of popular downloadable games, movies, magazines, and software for word processing and spreadsheets, the iPad has siphoned off more PC sales than analysts and executives predicted.

Apple sold 4.69 million iPads last quarter, for a total of about 20 million since the April 2010 debut. It could have sold more but for component shortages – some related to the March earthquake and tsunami in Japan, executives say.

The PC market, by contrast, declined last quarter. Global shipments fell 3.2 percent, hurt in part because some consumers bought tablets instead, research firm IDC reported last month.


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