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Tablets driving DRAM growth, but PCs still reign supreme

A Friday report on how mobile devices are now consuming the majority of the DRAM market sparked bloggy commentary declaring the decline of the PC. The report included provocative numbers, but the statistics deserve a reality check: IHS analyst Clifford Leimbach said DRAM shipments for PCs are in fact still growing--just at a slower pace than in years past.

IHS iSuppli's DRAM market report indicated that PCs' share of DRAM shipments had dropped from 50.2 percent in the first quarter of this year to 49 percent in the second quarter. The decrease is noteworthy, representing the first time PCs have dropped below 50 percent of DRAM market share since the 1980s.

The overall market, however, is expanding, led by the growing popularity of tablets and smartphones. More DRAM units are also shipping for PCs, just not at the clip they once did.

"The PC is no longer the central hub. You have a lot more options now," Leimbach told PCWorld. "You still have a lot of need for PCs, and you're going to [in the future]. Even though looking at it through the DRAM lens, it's not as dominating as it once was, PCs are still very pivotal in DRAM."

Leimbach said the world is entering a "post-PC era," but that doesn't mean the PC is no longer a leader in computing. It just has to share the spotlight.

Mobile devices still demand just a small fraction of the DRAM market. For example, Leimbach said 3.4 billion DRAM units for PCs were shipped in the last quarter, compared to 264 million units for tablets. As for market share, tablets grew from 1.6 percent to 2.7 percent in terms of total DRAM market consumption in the second quarter, according to the IHS report. Cell phones captured 13.2 percent of the market, a share that IHS expects to reach nearly 20 percent by the fourth quarter of 2013.

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