More ammunition for the “PC survives” side of the “PC, dead or not?” debate, as a report from market research firm The NPD Group indicates tablets are supplementing, not replacing, traditional laptop and desktop computers.

The study, “Understanding the Canadian PC and Tablet Buyer,” found that tablets are becoming an impulse buy, with one in three tablet purchases being unplanned, as opposed to one in four for desktops and one in five for laptops.

“Unlike buyers of desktops and notebooks, we’re seeing more spontaneous tablet purchases,” said Darrel Ryce, director of technology and entertainment at NPD, in a statement. “Shoppers are impressed not only by the technology, but also by the ease and mobility of these devices. Combine this with competitive pricing and it’s easy to understand why tablets are putting the pressure on the desktop and notebook segments.”

Of those who do plan their purchases, 53 per cent said they plan to buy a tablet within two years, while 43 per cent will buy a desktop and 35 per cent a laptop over the next four years.

“Tablets are being purchased as an additional device, not replacing the primary desktop or notebook, so they are bought more frequently,” said Ryce. “In particular, the desktop PC repurchase cycle is being extended. With an average of three computers in the home, Canadians are opting to wait longer to buy a new desktop now that they have multiple – and often more convenient – technology to work with.”

This explains the slumping numbers seen for traditional PC shipments, which NPD confirmed, reporting a 12 per cent drop for desktops and 19 per cent for notebook sales in 2012, compared to 2011.

According to NPD, the average Canadian buyer spends $627 on tablets annually, including accessories. Purchasers spend $927 on notebooks and $1127 on desktops.

The study also found that Apple buyers care much more about brand than PC buyers (45 per cent versus 11 per cent, and are more selective about where they buy. PC buyers tend to pick their retailer based on price, while Apple buyers focus on knowledgeable retail staff.

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  • gisabun

    Don’t need some research done to figure out that tablets are complimenting the PC. Although I’m sure some are replacing older ones such as MacBooks with dead batteries.
    $1127 on a desktop per year? What are they buying?

  • motionmonkey

    Although this is pretty obvious, it’s nice to actually see
    someone write about it, instead of the constant, uneducated “PCs won’t
    exist in 5 years” nonsense you constantly see in the media. Tablets aren’t
    a PC replacement, they’re a different animal, that have their own strengths and
    weaknesses, and can’t do a lot of what a PC will. You could even argue that
    they are a trendy novelty gadget at the moment, so who really knows what they
    future holds for them when that initial novelty wears off.

    The trouble is, buyers are being led to believe that they are PC replacements
    and getting disappointed when they buy one and they won’t do half of what they
    need.

    PC hardware really plateaued a few years ago, it was moving at such a rate that
    we’re now in a situation where most home users have a machine that’s many times
    more powerful than they need. So no need to upgrade to a new one. Not
    surprising PC sales are down. Sales don’t equal usage though, which is another
    thing the media in general doesn’t seem to be able to grasp.

  • dfrie

    I think so. Tablets, among other things, are a captured market.
    At least with PC’s, I can still extract Windows and get a working
    machine going. Even for just desktop work. Tablets are great fun,
    but of little use when I have real work to do..