PC sales plunge. Is Microsoft to blame?

PCs are starting to look like horse and buggy. One report implicates Windows 8 for the big step backward.

Behind the 8 ball. A Windows 8 startup screen. IDC implicates the operating system in the dramatic drop of PC sales.

Global PC shipments have just suffered their worst ever quarterly decline, crashing nearly 14 percent in the three months through March compared to the previous year, International Data Corp. reports.

The 13.9 percent plunge to 76.3 million units was far worse than the 7.7 percent drop that IDC had predicted.

Things seem to be getting worse in a hurry for PC makers. As IDC's research director for personal computing David Daoud notes in an IDC press release, "The magnitude of the contraction is both surprising and worrisome."

What's going on? Is the PC headed the way of the horse and buggy?

Part of the answer is obvious: PCs -  personal computers - are giving way to new classes of devices that with their blazing microprocessors, capacious storage mechanisms, always on communication chips and blistering memory components are just as much "computer" as are PCs. But we call them "tablets", "phones", "gadgets", and sometimes even "televisions." They're preempting the PC class, but they're certainly keeping "computer" sales buoyant. The smart vendors play across the camps. Witness Apple and Samsung.

According to IDC vice president Bob O'Donnell though, the PC industry also has itself to blame, for having relied on the Window 8 operating system.

"At this point, unfortunately, it seems clear that the Windows 8 launch not only failed to provide a positive boost to the PC market, but appears to have slowed the market," he says. "While some consumers appreciate the new form factors and touch capabilities of Windows 8, the radical changes to the UI (user interface), removal of the familiar Start button, and the costs associated with touch have made PCs a less attractive alternative to dedicated tablets and other competitive devices. Microsoft will have to make some very tough decisions moving forward if it wants to help reinvigorate the PC market."

Image from Codename Lisa via Wikimedia.

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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