Tablet computers hold back PC sales growth

Apple iPad
Image caption Global sales of tablet computers are expected to reach 50 million in 2011

Growth in shipments of personal computers (PCs) slowed in the last three months of last year, according to two industry tracking firms.

IDC said PC shipments rose 2.7% to 92.1 million over the period, well down on the 13.6% growth seen over the year as a whole.

Rival research company Gartner said fourth-quarter shipments rose by 3.1%.

The slowdown was linked to competition from new tablet computers, such as Apple's iPad.

A number of companies have begun producing these touch-screen computers.

IDC analyst Jay Chou said: "If you look at Europe and the US, the market wasn't that good. Part of that was the tablet."

Mr Chou also said that weak consumer demand had helped to hold back PC sales.

Tablet computers are not included in these figures.

Sales of tablets have been growing fast, and are expected to grow to 50 million this year.

However, that is still some way behind PC demand, which in 2010 was 346.2 million units.

IDC expects the PC market to continue growing in 2011, albeit at a rate less than 10%, compared with 13.6% in 2010.

Hewlett-Packard was still the number one best-selling PC manufacturer around the world, with a 19.5% market share. Dell ranked number two and Acer number three.

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