For the first time since the 1980s, personal computers no longer account for the majority of demand for DRAM memory chips.
Data released by market research firm IHS iSuppli on Friday showed that only 49 percent of all new DRAM chips were used to make personal computers in the second quarter, underscoring the growing popularity of smartphones and tablets at the expense of PCs.
By the end of 2013, PCs are expected to soak up just 42.8 percent of DRAM chip production, with the rest split between phones, tablets and other devices, according to IHS iSuppli.
Since Apple launched the iPad in 2010, tablets have been eating into laptop sales, slamming the profits of long-time PC heavyweights like Hewlett Packard and Dell.
Last week, top PC chipmaker Intel cut its outlook for the current quarter due to a decline in demand for its processors.
DRAM chips store short-term information in PCs, smartphones and tablets to help shorten the time it takes to process information. Hard disk drives and NAND chips are used for longer-term storage of movies, music, email and other data.
While the PC market won’t go away, DRAM chipmakers like Micron, Samsung Electronics and SK Hynix will increasingly focus their resources on developing better memory chips for mobile devices, IHS iSuppli said.
Executives and Wall Street investors are concerned that even the long-anticipated launch of Microsoft’s Windows 8 platform in October may fail to give the PC industry a badly needed boost.