Gartner and IDC are both reporting PC shipment numbers for the third quarter. The figures vary slightly, but the trend is the same. Shipments are up from this time a year ago - slightly - but not as "up" as expected.

In fact, reality is quite a bit below expectations. Gartner had expected a 12.1% increase and got a 7.6% increase in worldwide shipments instead.

IDC's numbers are a bit higher reporting a worldwide increase of 11%, although falling short of the 14% expected increase.

Other interesting nuggets and trends in the fine print:

- IDC's numbers indicate that Apple has jumped to number three in PC shipments in the U.S. market. Gartner still places them at number four. It looks like a statistical deadheat with Acer to me.

- Gartner is blaming the economy and consumer confusion over tablets. In other words, there are a lot of people out there who don't want to pull the trigger on a computing device until they see what other tablet offerings come available.

Parting thoughts

- The PC is increasingly irrelevant. Who needs the latest, greatest when most people are spending increasing amounts of time connecting through their mobile device?

- The netbook is clearly not as red hot as it was a year ago when it was propping up PC sales. Why? Will the netbook die under the boots of the iPad and other tablets soon to follow?

- Upgrading to Windows 7 is increasingly irrelevant, too. People had to make due for so long during the Windows Vista cycle, I believe they got used to it - and found other alternatives.

- Desktops and laptops will not go away. But, their importance will. It's already happening.