computerIn the next three years, a massive shift toward mobile computing is likely as consumers and companies flock to an untethered connection.

Mobile computers accounted for 55% of all worldwide PC shipments last year, and this proportion is expected to jump to nearly 70% by 2012, according to research firm Gartner, which announced the Taiwan PC industry's first-quarter results on Thursday.

Will Other PCs Overtake Netbooks?

Taiwan's PC industry, which ranks as the world's largest, posted a 53% increase in first-quarter revenues to $25.1 billion, compared to the same time a year ago. Much of that growth was fueled by netbooks, which have become the industry's fastest growth driver.

Industry players include giants such as Taiwan-based Acer Group (ACEIF), which owns the Gateway, Packard Bell, eMachines and Acer brands. The company has driven mobile PC sales worldwide with such devices as its popular Acer netbook. In the first quarter, Acer posted a 36.1% increase in revenues to $5.1 billion, and Gartner named it the No. 1 notebook maker in the quarter.

Taiwan PC makers were the first to introduce netbooks about two years ago. In the past year, as the economy took a beating, the inexpensive PCs that typically command prices of around $300 became the fastest-growing segment of the PC industry, according to Gartner.

While Gartner expects netbooks to fuel PC growth for the remainder of the year, their allure may be short-lived as ultraportable computers that are as thin as a runway model but pack a long battery life, as well as a bevy of tablet computers, gain traction among consumers and companies.

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