New figures released on Thursday show that the PC industry is struggling to battle against the double whammy of tablet computers and the recession.

According to figures from IDC - a "global provider of market intelligence, advisory services, and events for the information technology, telecommunications, and consumer technology markets" - consumers headed to the shops this year, not to buy a netbook or laptop, but an Apple iPad or Samsung Galaxy Tab.

“The hype around media tablets ramped up towards Christmas, as expected, and despite the launch of Samsung Galaxy and Toshiba Folio, Apple continued to dominate the European retail with the iPad", said Eszter Morvay, research manager of IDC's EMEA Personal Computing group. "The robust popularity of media tablets led to further deceleration in mini notebook volumes as well as mainstream notebook demand due to constrained disposable income. The lacklustre interest in notebook renewals continued fuel inventory build-up, despite slower sell-in in preparation for Sandy Bridge".

All those elements accounted for a poor Christmas says IDC with shipment levels in Western Europe declining by 7 per cent year-on-year.

“Increasing traction for media tablets during the Christmas quarter contributed to divert consumers' attention and budgets away from PCs and led to a 10.5 per cent overall decline for consumer PC purchases. The product category most impacted remained Netbooks, which declined by 29 per cent, but sales of mainstream notebooks were also affected and recorded a flat 0.5 per cent. Traditional desktop sales suffered a severe drop of 19 per cent, while growth in all-in-ones also slowed to only 1.8 per cent”.

The news is unlikely to be welcomed by the top five PC vendors HP, Acer, Dell, Asus, and Toshiba.

Of the five, Dell is the only one to have a tablet on the market with Toshiba pulling its Folio offering just days after launch. HP has yet to officially announce its tablet plans while Asus and Acer won't be releasing their tablets until later in the year.

What's likely to make matters worse is that major players like RIM, Motorola, HTC, and LG are yet to release their tablets into the market.

Meanwhile a report conducted by Deloitte Canada predicts that 425 million smartphones and tablets are expected to ship globally in 2011 compared to 400 million PCs.

“In 2011, more than half of computing devices sold globally will not be PCs. While PC sales are likely to reach almost 400 million units, Deloitte’s estimate for combined sales of smartphones, tablets and non-PC netbooks is well over that amount”.

The report goes on to say:

“Unlike the 2009 netbook phenomenon, when buyers chose machines that were less powerful versions of traditional PCs (but still PCs) the 2011 computing market will be dominated by devices that use different processing chips and operating systems than those used for PCs over the past 30 years.