PC shipments fell 4.9 percent to 90.3 million units shipped during the fourth quarter, which is typically a strong period for sales due to the holidays. Why? Well, it wasn’t necessarily because Windows 8 was a flop, but more because users are turning to tablets more and more for media consumption, Gartner said in a report on Monday.

“Tablets have dramatically changed the device landscape for PCs, not so much by ‘cannibalizing’ PC sales, but by causing PC users to shift consumption to tablets rather than replacing older PCs,” said Mikako Kitagawa, principal analyst at Gartner. “Whereas as once we imagined a world in which individual users would have both a PC and a tablet as personal devices, we increasingly suspect that most individuals will shift consumption activity to a personal tablet, and perform creative and administrative tasks on a shared PC. There will be some individuals who retain both, but we believe they will be exception and not the norm. Therefore, we hypothesize that buyers will not replace secondary PCs in the household, instead allowing them to age out and shifting consumption to a tablet.”

Low cost tablets drove the trend last year, Kitagara noted, but said that it was low-cost PCs that failed to ship and that higher priced machines with “richer applications” can still drive sales. HP’s global shipments fell 0.5 percent while Lenovo’s increased 8.2 percent. Meanwhile, Dell’s shipments fell 20.9 percent, the largest drop of all PC makers, and Acer’s fell 11 percent. HP’s sales increased 12.6 percent in the United States, however. Dell’s slipped 16.5 percent and Apple and Lenovo’s shipments increased 5.4 percent and 9.7 percent, respectively. Acer saw the largest drop in the U.S. with a 21.6 percent decline in shipments.

“The launch of Windows 8 had no impact on PC demand, especially as Ultramobile products were both limited in supply, as well as being priced too high,” said Ranjit Atwal, research director at Gartner. “The holiday season mostly saw retailers clearing Windows 7 notebook inventory or driving volume of low-end notebooks. Furthermore, the increasing choice of tablets at decreasing price points no doubt became a favorite Christmas present ahead of PCs.”\

I agree with the point that we are more and more turning to tablets for tasks we used to need computers for. I use a tablet to check my email and browse the web, and only boot up my PC or Mac for work. As such, I’m using both the PC and MacBook Air less often than I once did, and I don’t see much of a reason to upgrade them because I don’t need the added power.

Unless I’m playing Starcraft II, that is.

Source Gartner