Doom and gloom for PC market might not be as bad as expected, IDC hints

The global market research firm adjusted its outlook for PC shipment declines toward the positive end of the spectrum -- but just by a smidge.

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The ongoing forecast threatening the death of the PC market has become a stale story for some, but recent analyst reports have suggested that it might not all be as doom and gloom as previously predicted.

A new forecast from IDC lends credence to that, although no one should get their hopes up just yet.

The global market research firm adjusted its outlook for PC shipment declines toward the positive end of the spectrum -- but just by a smidge.

IDC analysts projected that global PC shipments will fall by only six percent this year to 296.3 million units, down from the previous forecast of 6.1 percent.

That might seem negligible to some, but it could mean the difference between a few million units shipped and affect the top vendor rankings.

More so, the contributing factors and the areas where these shifts are occurring might be even more paramount.

For example, regions designated as "mature markets" (such as the United States) are expected to see PC shipments remain relatively constant from 133.2 million in 2013 to 133.3 million in 2014.

But emerging markets are much more volatile with a projected decline from 181.9 million units shipped in 2013 to roughly 163 million by the end of this year.

The immediate assumption would be that mobile devices and new laptop form factors, such as Chromebooks and Ultrabooks, have something to do with this.

But Loren Loverde, vice president of Worldwide PC Trackers at IDC, suggested PC shipments are actually "benefitting [sic] from a lull in tablet demand due to rising tablet penetration in mature regions and competitive pressure on smaller tablets from large-size smartphones (sometimes referred to as Phablets)."

Loverde continued:

However, the transition toward mobile and cloud-based computing is unstoppable. PCs continue a slow transition toward touch and slim designs, even as tablet volume is expected to pass total PC volume in the fourth quarter of 2014 and on an annual basis in 2016. To return to growth, the PC industry is going to need to accelerate the shift to lower-cost, thin, and touch-based designs, despite the challenges it has faced with these designs in the past.

On the upside, analysts once again highlighted the departure from Windows XP as a boost to the PC industry overall, predicting it will remain a factor for the next few quarters.

But the Windows shift will have longer term effects, too, as the IDC expects it could help the United States to hold on to its crown for the most PC shipments worldwide annually through at least 2017.

Chart via IDC

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