IDC's Outlook on PC Shipments is a Mixed Bag

Paul Lilly

High and low points abound in the PC sector

Reading through International Data Corporation's (IDC) latest report on PC shipments is like slapping yourself in the face to kill a blood sucking mosquito -- you're not sure whether to be relieved or pained. More to the point, IDC's roller-coaster examination starts with adjusting its forecast. IDC now expects worldwide PC shipments to decline by 3.7 percent in 2014 (bummer!), though that's an improvement from its previous forecast of a 6 percent drop (hooray!).

The market research firm says PC shipments in emerging regions are being held back by competition from alternative devices and economic challenges (drats!), though commercial demand and a "rekindling" of interest from consumers in mature markets helped to boost results in Q1 and through the rest of the year (sweet!).

Pop a Dramamine because the up and down ride doesn't smooth out from here. According to IDC, competition from tablets is waning, especially as PCs continue to make progress in competing with slimmer, touch-friendly, and low-cost systems (rock on!), though in emerging regions, competition from other devices is a bigger factor (darn!) and over time, the replacement of Windows XP systems (yay!) will decline as the install base shrinks (d'oh!).

"Programs to reduce PC prices, such as Windows 8.1 with Bing, have helped to improve PC shipments in some segments," said Jay Chou , Senior Research Analyst, Worldwide PC Trackers. "Coupled with a shift toward more mobile PCs, the market has seen a quickened pace of innovation and a focus on price points. Nevertheless, the prospects for significant PC growth in the long term remain tenuous, as users increasingly see PCs as only one of several computing devices."

The bottom line? Quite frankly, we don't what the flip to think about IDC's assessment, so we'll wrap things up with the firm's current outlook. Barring an adjusted forecast down the line, IDC sees desktop PCs going from 133.5 million shipments in 2014 to 121.1 million in 2018; portable PC shipments holding steady at 170 million in 2014 and in 2018; and total PC shipments going from 303.5 million in 2014 to 291.1 million in 2018.

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