IDC Forecasts PC Market Will Shrink for Second Consecutive Year

Paul Lilly

Tablets continue to put the squeeze on PC sales.

With Windows 8 getting off to a slow start and continued interest in tablets, 2012 "ended on a sour note" for PC makers, says International Data Corporation (IDC). According to the latest data from IDC, global PC shipments in 2012 fell 3.7 percent compared to 2011. Going forward, IDC expects computer shipments to drop another 1.3 percent in 2013, which is either good or bad, depending on your perspective.

On the bright side. IDC is saying the rate of decline will be about a third of what it was last year. And regardless of how it compares, a 1.3 percent change is hardly cause for panic. In fact, IDC predicts total PC shipments (desktops and notebooks) will reach 345.8 million units in 2013. That's down from 350.4 million units in 2012, but still a lot of PCs.

At the same time, it's a little disappointing that Windows 8 has so far failed to reinvigorate the market the way Microsoft hoped it would. The "underwhelming reception to Windows 8," along with disappointing holiday sales and tight IT budgets all led to the decline.

"The PC market is still looking for updated models to gain traction and demonstrate sufficient appeal to drive growth in a very competitive market," said Loren Loverde , Program Vice President, Worldwide PC Trackers at IDC. "Growth in emerging regions has slowed considerably, and we continue to see constrained PC demand as buyers favor other devices for their mobility and convenience features. We still don't see tablets (with limited local storage, file system, lesser focus on traditional productivity, etc.) as functional competitors to PCs – but they are winning consumer dollars with mobility and consumer appeal nevertheless."

Incidentally, this is precisely where Windows 8 should be able to turn things around. The touch-friendly operating system encourages hybrid designs that function both as a powerful notebook and as a tablet, but PC makers have so far failed to really excite consumers with any must-have products.

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