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Computer demand shrinks amid tablet craze: reports

Figures released on Wednesday showed that the personal computer market shrank for the first time in more than a year due to frugality and a tablet computer craze led by Apple's hot-selling iPads.

Global personal computer (PC) shipments declined 3.2 percent during the first three months of the year in the first slip since the recession ended some 18 months ago, according to industry tracker International Data Corporation.

Worldwide PC shipments totaled 84.3 million units during the quarter in a 1.1 percent drop from the same three months last year, according to figures gathered by research group Gartner.

Weak demand for consumer PCs was the biggest drag on the market, according to Gartner principal analyst Mikako Kitagawa.

"Low prices for consumer PCs, which had long stimulated growth, no longer attracted buyers," Kitagawa said.

"Instead, consumers turned their attention to media tablets and other consumer electronics."

After Apple's second-generation iPad was released in February, many consumers either switched allegiances or simply held back from buying PCs, according to the analyst.

Spikes in commodity and fuel prices, along with disruptions caused by the disaster in Japan, contributed to the break in momentum for the computer market, according to IDC.

"While it's tempting to blame the decline completely on the growth of media tablets, we believe other factors, including extended PC lifetimes and the lack of compelling new PC experiences, played equally significant roles," said IDC vice president Bob O'Donnell.

With "good enough" computing becoming a reality in the form of mini-laptops and tablet computers, PC makers will need to give consumers new reasons to pay for "the added horsepower," said IDC analyst Jay Chou.

PC sales were expected to remain mired through the current quarter but pick up in the second half of the year.