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Welcome to the post-PC world

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It looks as if Steve Jobs was right -- we're entering the world where the computer is about to be replaced, and our estimated time of arrival is summer 2014. That's the date at which tablet sales will have overtaken desktop and notebook sales. 

The latest Strategy Analytics figures, covering the second quarter of this year, show that 51.7 million tablets were shipped globally over the past three months, up from 36.1 million in the same period last year and that Android has finally overtaken the iPad in terms of shipments. In all, 34.6 million Android tablets, compared with 14.6 million iPads, entered the retail space giving Android a 67 percent global share of the market.

"Apple iOS shipments were 14.6 million iPads in Q2 2013 which declined 14% annually," said Peter King, Director of Tablets at Strategy Analytics, in a supporting statement. "In the same quarter a year ago the first Retina display iPads were launched which could partly explain the decline as there were no new models in this quarter. However, to compensate that, iPad Mini, which was not available a year ago, now freely available, was expected to take the figure higher than 14.6 million."

At the same time PC shipments are falling through the floor; Gartner's latest figures for the same period show that only 76 million traditional computers shipped over the last three months and, if the two trends continue at the same rate, in less than a year the tablet will have all but replaced the PC for many users.

Some experts suggest that consumers are simply buying tablets rather than computers due to financial constraints while others are blaming the polarizing effect of Windows 8. However, Apple's PC sales are still holding up rather well, considering that its devices are all sold at a serious premium. Closer to the truth may be that for many consumers, the PC was simply a means of accessing the internet and, thanks to tablets and, to a lesser extent, smartphones, the desktop and even the notebook have been relegated in terms of importance.

In February, a report by NPD Group found that more than a third of US consumers had already abandoned desktops and notebooks in favor of smartphones and tablets for surfing the web, using social media and playing games. Among tablet owners, 27 percent said that they were using their computer less and less, particularly for browsing and 20 percent said that they were using a PC less often for accessing Facebook.

Meanwhile a Moffett Research report into the mobile telecoms industry shows that only 20 percent of tablets purchased are specified with a 3G or 4GLTE mobile internet connection. And, of that small group only 50 percent are supported by the necessary data plan. What's more, of that number, 50 percent of owners cancel or fail to renew the contract, meaning that currently, only 5 percent of tablets have an active mobile internet connection, adding further evidence that the tablet's natural habitat is at home or in the office -- just like a traditional desktop.

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