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Australian PC shipments are forecast to decline by two percent in 2012 over 2011, according to research firm Gartner. Desktop PCs will drop 12 percent, while notebook shipment growth is forecast at two percent, according to analyst Eileen He.

By contrast Gartner forecasts worldwide PC shipments will grow a modest 4.4 percent to reach 368 million units in 2012 and grow faster in 2013.

“Consumer spending is getting slower in mature markets like Australia, and Gartner foresees this situation will continue in 2012,” said He. “Meanwhile, the impact of the HDD shortage that occurred during Q4 2011 will be somewhat delayed – we think most serious in H1 2012.

“We also don’t foresee good performance in the desk-based PC market. The fast adoption of media tablets is having a heavy impact on traditional PC market growth.”

She said the use of applications such as e-mail, social networking and Internet access, traditionally the domain of the PC, are now being used across tablets and smartphones, making these devices in some cases more valued and attractive propositions.

“Consumers will now look at a task that they have to perform, and they will determine which device will allow them to perform such a task in the most effective, fun and convenient way. The device has to meet the user needs –  not the other way round,” said He.

Globally Gartner expects PC shipments to remain weak in 2012, as the PC market plays catch-up in bringing a new level of innovation that consumers want to see in devices they purchase.

The research firm expects introduction of the new iPad (CDN, Friday) as well as new tablets based on operating systems from Google and Microsoft will spell still more competition for the PC.

“The real question is whether Windows 8 and ultrabooks will create the compelling offering that gets the earlier adopter of devices excited about PCs again,” said research director Ranjit Atwal.

Gartner also said that globally there would be an accelerating shift to the personal cloud.

This will “challenge vendors across all mobile devices markets and add to the hurdles for PC vendors to overcome to revive the PCs and differentiate them from tablets. The content creation capabilities of PCs may not be enough to counteract the better content consumption capabilities of media tablets,” said Atwal.

Mature PC markets will continue to be replacement market-driven and their volumes will be much less than their emerging market counterparts, he added.

Emerging markets are key to driving worldwide PC growth in both the short and long-term, as their share increases from just over 50 percent in 2011 to nearly 70 percent in 2016.

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