The boom years of mobile PC adoption are all but over for now according to Gartner as consumers prolong usage of exiting systems or look at alternative devices to surf the Internet.
Market dynamics forced analysts to downgrade their 2011 worldwide PC unit forecasts from 15.9% to 10.5%, and from 14.8% to 13.6% in 2012. It also forecast less than 10% annual growth rates in mobile PCs until 2015.
"These results reflect marked reductions in near term unit growth on expectations of weaker consumer mobile PC demand," said Ranjit Atwal, research director at Gartner.
This was in "no small part" due to the near-term weakness the analyst expects in China's mobile systems market compounded by the "general loss" in consumer enthusiasm for laptops.
The consumer notebook market underpinned PC market expansion over the past five years but growth finally started to stutter in Q3 last year when interest shifted to media tablet devices that Gartner said have cannibalised sales.
George Shiffler, Gartner research director, previously suspected that mobile PC growth would be buoyed by consumers buying second and third devices.
"However, we now believe that consumers are not only likely to forgo additional mobile PC buys but are also likely to extend lifetimes of the mobile PCs they retain as they adopt media tablets and other mobile PC alternatives as their primary mobile device," he said.
The battle lines being drawn out in the consumer space are also moving to the commercial market which is in the midst of a corporate refresh.
"Even in the professional market, media tablets are being considered as PC substitutes, likely at least delaying some PC replacements," said Gartner, adding that the weight, longer battery life and 'cool' factor of slates counted in its favour.