Tablets and Smartphones Slow Laptop Sales Growth

Tablet computers and smartphones are slowing the growth of laptop sales, according to a report Gartner (IT) released Thursday. The research firm projects that laptop sales will grow less than previously expected this year and next year because of the surging popularity of alternative mobile-computing devices.

Gartner expects worldwide laptop sales to increase 11% this year to 387.8 million laptops, which is lower than the company's previously forecast 16% growth rate. It also lowered its 2012 forecast, predicting that laptop sales will grow 14% next year instead of a previously expected 15%,

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"We now believe that consumers are not only likely to forgo additional mobile PC buys, but are also likely to extend the lifetimes of the mobile PCs they retain as they adopt media tablets and other mobile PC alternatives as their primary mobile device," Gartner research director George Shiffler said in a statement.

As smartphones and tablets, such as Apple's (AAPL) iPad, boost their computing power, more and more of those devices are becoming capable of performing the same tasks as laptops, Additionally, laptops are losing their fashion-forward cachet compared to iPads and smartphones, Gartner says.

Over the next four years, Shiffler estimates that laptop sales will grow at an average of less than 10% per year in mature markets such as the U.S.

Meanwhile, other research firms have projected that global tablet sales are ready to soar. In February, IHS iSuppli predicted that consumers will buy 242 million iPads and PC tablets in 2015, worldwide, up from roughly 20 million last year. And DisplaySearch expects sales of tablet or slate computers will make up about a third of total mobile PC sales by 2014.