Industry analysis firm Gartner has lowered its PC unit forecasts for the next two years, citing expectations of weaker demand for laptops and other mobile consumer PCs. The firm downgraded its predictions for mobile PC shipment growth to 10.5 percent from 15.9 percent in 2011, and to 13.6 percent down from 14.8 percent growth in 2012.

"We expect growing consumer enthusiasm for mobile PC alternatives, such as the iPad and other media tablets, to dramatically slow home mobile PC sales, especially in mature markets," said George Shiffler, research director at Gartner, in a press release.

Simply put, tablets are more portable than laptops and perform many of the same functions for consuming content — surfing, reading and e-mail — for which people once used laptops. Gartner said that the hit being taken by the laptop market is partially because of a shift in demand, but also because those on the fence about what device to buy are waiting to purchase anything at all.

Faster Forward readers, you’ve said before that keyboards are too important to give up, so there’s little chance that laptops will be entirely replaced anytime soon. But is anyone on the fence about, say, buying a new tablet or upgrading a laptop? Let us know in the comments.

Related Stories:

Apple's iPad 2: a hands-on report

Acer says it's not getting rid of netbooks after all

CES 2011: Tablets from Apple competitors will take center stage at electronics show