2011 Ranks as "Second Worst Year in History" for PCs in the U.S., IDC Says

Paul Lilly

Market research firms International Data Corporation (IDC) and Gartner typically post similar numbers when analyzing the PC market, and so when Gartner reported U.S. PC shipments dropped 6 percent in the fourth of 2011, we knew it would only be a matter of time before IDC posted equally despairing numbers. Actually, IDC's figures aren't quite as bad, indicating that stateside shipments dropped a little less than 5 percent, but don't take solace in that number.

"The U.S. market had its second worst year in history in 2011, dropping nearly 5 percent from 2010. Although not as severe as the 11.7 percent contraction following the Y2K buildup and subsequent tech crisis of 2001, 2011 was particularly affected by HDD supply constraints, weak demand, and a difficult competitive landscape," IDC said . "The fourth quarter's HDD supply shortage has had a notable effect on fourth quarter shipments."

Egads, that's pretty rough. Worldwide shipments did much better and totaled 92.7 million units in the fourth quarter of 2011, down 0.2 percent compared to the same quarter in 2010, but was up 1.6 percent for the full year.

In addition to the HDD crisis caused by flooding in Thailand, IDC blamed the weak regional performance in the U.S. to "market saturation" and a struggling economy that "continues to weigh considerably on consumer demand." At the same time, IDC notes U.S. consumers are waiting on new products and technologies, "promising a new refresh cycle starting in 3Q12 and beyond with a return to positive growth in the mid-term."

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