The decline of the mobile PC, or laptop, is going to happen at a much faster rate thanks to tablets, according to recent research from Gartner.

The research firm announced its lowered its PC estimate for 2011 and 2012 following Apple's announcement of the iPad 2. Quite simply, Gartner says there will be weaker demand for laptops.

Its PC shipments forecast, currently slated to reach 387.8 million units in 2011, is a 10.5 percent increase from 2010. However, it's down from Gartner's previous prediction of 15.9 percent growth from 2010 to 2010. For 2012, it expects a 13.6 percent growth from 2011, down from earlier outlook of 14.8 percent growth. While the growth in the industry is still evident, analysts say it's a troubling sign.

We expect growing consumer enthusiasm for mobile PC alternatives, such as the iPad and other media tablets, to dramatically slow home mobile PC sales, especially in mature markets, said George Shiffler, research director at Gartner, in a statement.

Make no mistake about it, the mobile PC industry will still grow over the next few years. But it will be nothing compared to what has done over the past five years, says Gartner. From 2006 to 2010, laptop PCs averaged annual rates of growth approaching 40 percent. The rise of tablets, smartphones and other low cost, Wi-Fi enabled devices has meant laptops are no longer the only choice for mobile Internet connections.

We once thought that mobile PC growth would continue to be sustained by consumers buying second and third mobile PCs as personal devices. However, 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, Shiffler said.

He said home mobile PCs will likely average less than 10 percent annual growth in mature markets from 2011 through 2015 - a long way down from the 40 percent growth of the last few years. Gartner says mobile PCs will even suffer in the professional market.

Even in the professional market, media tablets are being considered as PC substitutes, likely at least delaying some PC replacements, said Raphael Vasquez, senior research analyst at Gartner, in a statement.

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