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Mini-notebook replacement?

The IDC market research firm today reduced its forecast for PC shipments for 2011 to 4.2 percent, from its previous projection of 7.1 percent. IDC cited factors including an “increasingly conservative economic outlook” but also explained that alternative devices have taken much of the momentum away from the low-priced, “mini-notebook” computers that helped to fuel the consumer PC market in recent years.

“Consumers are recognizing the value of owning and using multiple intelligent devices and because they already own PCs, they’re now adding smart phones, media tablets, and eReaders to their device collections,” says Bob O’Donnell, an IDC vice president in the news release.”And this has shifted the technology share of wallet onto other connected devices.”

Translation: Many people are spending money on iPads and Kindles and phones instead of computers.

IDC says the market will rebound in 2012, returning to double-digit growth over time.

But the short-term trend doesn’t bode well for Microsoft, which relies heavily on sales of Windows pre-installed on PCs to fuel its business. Microsoft last week unveiled the next version of Windows, code-named Windows 8, with a dramatically new interface designed to make the operating system friendlier on tablets and other iPad rivals.

IDC’s forecast reduction wasn’t entirely unexpected, after first-quarter PC shipments came in lower than expected.

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