Gartner's latest forecast is projecting global PC shipments will total 366.1 million units in 2010, a 19.7 percent increase from 305.8 million units shipped in 2009, with global PC spending forecast to reach $245 billion in 2010, up 12.2 percent from 2009. These latest numbers don't only include traditional PC towers and laptops, however. Garnter believes that netbooks and tablets will comprise a significant portion of the 366 million PC expected to ship this year – and they believe the iPad will help change the entire PC ecosystem.
"User requirements are clearly segmenting, and the mini-notebook proved this point," said Ranjit Atwal, principal analyst at Gartner. "Vendors can no longer afford to just think in terms of traditional PC form factors or architectures. With the rise of Web-delivered applications, many users no longer need a traditional PC running a resident general-purpose operating system and fast x86 CPU to satisfy their computing needs. Apple's iPad is just one of many new devices coming to market that will change the entire PC ecosystem and overlap it with the mobile phone industry. This will create significantly more opportunities for PC vendors as well as significantly more threats."
Netbooks aside, Gartner believes that vendors could ship up to 10.5 million traditional tablets and next-generation tablet devices worldwide in 2010 – that's roughly 2.8% of the total PC market tally. How much of that tally could be iPads? "The most likely scenario for iPad sales this year is 4.2 million units," says Gartner analyst Angela McIntyre. Most Wall Street analysts expect Apple to ship slightly more – around 5 million iPads in 2010.
One thing is sure: the PC market is changing. Some people, like my mother, will only require a tablet for simple browsing and email. Gone are the days when PC technology was "one size fits all."