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Gadgets & Home Improvement

More choose tablets over PCs at home

PC sales declining as Internet users snap up more tablets, smartphones
The Straits Times - November 24, 2012
By: Irene Tham Technology Correspondent
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More choose tablets over PCs at home

BOOT up the computer, reply to e-mail and then dash off to work. This was the morning routine for many people.

But the personal computer (PC) is fast being replaced by tablets and smartphones for connecting to the Internet in Singapore homes.

Latest data from Singapore- based research firm GfK Asia shows that PC retailers here sold only 370,700 desktops and laptops in the first 10 months of the year - a 20 per cent drop from the same period last year.

GfK said PC sales for this year will likely see the first yearly decline since 2005, when it started tracking local sales.

Worldwide, research firm IHS iSuppli has projected that PC shipments will fall this year for the first time in 11 years as consumers, cautious about the global economy, hold off on buying computers in favour of mobile devices like tablets and smartphones.

IHS iSuppli said last month that the number of PCs shipped worldwide this year would dip 1.2 per cent to 348.7 million units, from 352.8 million last year.

In contrast, tablets and smartphones have done well. In the first nine months of the year, retailers here sold more than 499,000 tablets - just 25,000 short of what was sold in the whole of last year, said GfK.

In the first nine months of the year, consumers also snapped up 1.58 million smartphones, more than the 1.4 million sold for the whole of last year. And last year's sales of smartphones and tablets were double those in 2010.

Computing habits have also changed. What PC users do most these days - checking e-mail, Web browsing and social networking - can be done on tablets and smartphones which are cheaper, sleeker and more portable.

Teacher Caryn Foo, 35, sees no need to shop for a PC to replace her old desktop as she has an Apple iPad tablet.

"It's more portable," she said. If she needs to use more complex applications like spreadsheet and PowerPoint, she said she could always use her work laptop.

Marketing executive Julie Teo, 34, said 90 per cent of what she does on her home PC is checking e-mail, which can be done on a tablet or smartphone.

"I check both my BlackBerry and iPhone as soon as I wake up. They are next to my bed," added Ms Teo, who plans to buy a tablet for Christmas. She will not upgrade to a new PC when her two desktops at home wear out.

But PCs are not about to be phased out any time soon.

Lecturer Ong Boon Kiat, 44, said he would still use a desktop at home for functions like word and video editing. "I feel tablets are not ready to replace PCs because they are too impoverished in terms of processing power."

A study by Swedish telco equipment maker Ericsson showed that Singapore not only tops the world with the greatest proportion of Internet users owning smartphones, but also ranks second when it comes to the tablet.

Three in four here have a smartphone and almost one in three has a tablet, according to the study. It polled over 47,500 Internet users in 58 countries, including 500 from Singapore, in the first quarter of this year.

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