Hewlett-Packard, following tablet trend, turns away from PCs

When historians recount the end of the PC era, they may point to the 2013 Morgan Stanley Technology, Media & Telecom Conference as the moment when the final dagger was thrust into the hearts of PC fans everywhere. Because it was during this conference that Meg Whitman, the CEO of the world’s largest PC maker, said Hewlett-Packard would start focusing on tablets, diverting attention away from PC development. “We are shifting resources from PCs to tablets,” Whitman said on Tuesday, The Verge reports. “We're reallocating where we're putting our energy and our people and our resources."

Et tu, HP? Whitman’s comments came on the heels of statements by HP executives at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, where the company unveiled a sub-$200, 7-inch Android tablet, called the Slate 7. Shane Wall, HP’s chief technology officer, told IDG News on Tuesday to expect more tablets from HP in the future. “You can expect going forward [for HP to release] a family of products,” Wall said.

Three years coming

Ever since Apple introduced the iPad in 2010, critics and pundits have been predicting the end of the PC era. But unlike those previous years, 2013 is shaping up to be the year it actually happens. During the recent holiday season, PC shipments fell by nearly 5 percent compared to 2011, according to a January report from Gartner.

The precipitous drop in PC shipments prompted the market research firm to say that declining PC sales could no longer be blamed on a weak market—a tectonic shift in buying habits was taking place. “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,” Gartner principal analyst Mikako Kitagawa said.

Market research firm IDC also noted the decline of PCs and the rise of tablets over the recent holiday season. Worldwide tablet shipments grew by more than 75 percent during the last three months of 2012 compared to the previous year, according to IDC. “The record-breaking quarter stands in stark contrast to the PC market, which saw shipments decline during the quarter for the first time in more than five years,” IDC analyst Tom Mainelli said in January.

Even if you have a PC at home, chances are you’re using it less and less. A recent survey by NPD Group found that 37 percent of PC users are switching to tablets and smartphones as their primary devices for tasks like Web browsing and checking Facebook.

With PCs in decline and tablet sales exploding, HP’s shift certainly makes sense, but what exactly does the company have planned for its glorious touch tablet future? The company appears ready to focus on both Android and Windows 8 tablets, to offer a wide variety of devices. “We now have the opportunity to compete in a multi-form-factor world, a multiple-OS world, a multiple-chipset world," Whitman said on Tuesday, as reported by The Verge. "Which allows us to combine form factor plus OS plus chipset to meet the needs of very specific customer segments."

In other words, in addition to 7- and 10-inch Android tablets, HP probably hopes to make workhorse Windows tablets similar to Microsoft’s Surface Pro. So take heart computer fans, your next PC might be an HP Slate.

For comprehensive coverage of the Android ecosystem, visit Greenbot.com.

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