PC sales outlook murky: 'Significant challenges' for Microsoft, Intel

PC sales outlook murky: 'Significant challenges' for Microsoft, Intel

Summary: The bigger question here is whether technology buyers---consumer and corporate---are going to have much patience for Wintel trial and error as the PC and tablet experiences come together.


PC sales are expected to see a second half pop courtesy of Microsoft's Windows 8 and Intel's ultrabook push, but the long-term outlook is murky, according to IDC projections.

IDC noted that global PC shipments were up 1.8 percent in 2011 and will be 5 percent in 2012. The catch? IDC said that 2012 will be back-end loaded. Tech users are holding off on PC purchases as they are courted by tablets such as Apple's iPad, which moved 3 million units since March 16.

Jay Chou, analyst at IDC said:

2012 and 2013 will bring significant challenges for Microsoft and the PC community. Windows 8 and ultrabooks are a definitive step in the right direction to recapturing the relevance of the PC, but its promise of meshing a tablet experience in a PC body will likely entail a period of trial and error, thus the market will likely see modest growth in the near term.

The bigger question here is whether technology buyers---consumer and corporate---are going to have much patience for Wintel trial and error. PC sales are in a bit of a squeeze right now. Here are a few thoughts:

  • Windows 8 has put PC sales on standby.
  • Windows 8 has a new interface that may turn off users---or at least create a learning curve.
  • The software giant is melding the tablet and PC experience.
  • Ultrabook sales are also on standby pending Windows 8.

Those aforementioned items are significant wild cards for second half PC sales.

IDC is projecting that emerging market PC unit growth should be solid, but mature markets---notably Western Europe and the U.S.---are likely to see sluggish results. For instance, emerging markets will deliver PC shipment growth of 10.8 percent in 2013, but mature markets will come in with gains of 7.8 percent. That reality---emerging markets over mature ones---persists through 2016.

Related: Special Report: Windows 8 revealed

Topics: Intel, Hardware, Microsoft

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  • The Reality Distortion Field is in effect

    We have to stick together and not let it overcome us. Post-PC. ^pffft.
    Dietrich T. Schmitz *Your
    • Looks like it already overcame you...

      Cause I can't find anywhere in the article the phrase - Post-PC ;-)
      • It isn't. The 3M ipad3 Tablet sales is cleverly inserted.

        Let the chanting begin.
        Dietrich T. Schmitz *Your
    • Shrug

      Something is happening. Whether we use the term "post PC" or some other term, I think it is fairly apparent that we are currently in a shift in how we do our computing and on what kind of devices this happens.

      Apple did it. Windows is doing it. Ubuntu did it. We know it is happening. Quibbling about the language used to describe it does not make a lot of sense to me, especially since some consensus has developed around the terminology: whether post-PC is agreeable to everyone or not, it does seem to be the consensus phrase for this shift.
      • In total agreement...

        I was just busting Dietrich chops. He is one of those who is against the use of the word post-pc. So I thought he would have been happy to finally read an article that doesn't mention that "dreaded" word. Guess not. :-)

        Yes clearly we are at a transition stage. The PC is finally mature. Smart Phone use is skyrocketing. And tablet devices like the iPad are becoming ever capable PC (personal computing) devices for millions. Sufficient enough for folks like my parents for instance who will never ever have a need for a x86 "PC" again. To them and many others, an iPad clearly is a post-pc device.
    • Agreed

      Sales Volume is up quarter over quarter for as far as you want to look back....But there are ipads, therefore sales volume has no where to go but down. How is that a logical conclusion?
      Your Non Advocate
  • Each version of Windows

    is somewhat different and requires some learning curve. Not a valid point.

    Emerging markets is where the growth is. These markets are just getting started.
    • Master of the Obvious

      [ul][i]Emerging markets is where the growth is.[/i][/ul]Wow, you must be smart.
      Robert Hahn
  • They could...

    Microsoft could always offer free upgrades to Windows 8 with every new Windows 7 license they sell. Didn't they do this when Vista was about to come out (hopefully the parallels don't continue)?
    • Actually

      Actually the big mover for Vista was that Microsoft started allowing Vista purchasers to downgrade to Windows XP (shouldn't they have called this an upgrade?). I suspect Microsoft will, with Windows 8, eventually be forced by the PC OEMs to offer a Windows 7 upgrade for desktop users.
  • Here's a few more thoughts

    * Last quarter, Apple sold as may iPads as HP sold computers

    * Android is activating 850,000 devices per day, that almost equals the entire PC industry

    * Microsoft is broken in two equal pieces, those staying with XP, and everybody else

    * Dell and HP lost their ability to innovate, in a series of cost cutting moves
  • PC sales outlook murky: 'Significant challenges' for Microsoft, Intel

    Bogus study. IDC is implying that tablet sales are going to hurt the PC when its not. They are also making the false assumption that everyone wants a tablet and no longer need the PC. If anything just the opposite. Tablets are the temporary fad here, PCs (and notebooks) have a proven track record. And whats up with Wintel trial and error? Where exactly was that supposed to come in?
    Loverock Davidson-
  • The Future is Windows 8 Flip touchscreen ULTRABOOKS for Home, Road & Office

    Tablets will be a nice cheaper multimedia casual device as Ultrabook is a hybrid tablet/PC productive device
  • Why can't people have PC's and consumer tablet PC's?

    Just because a consumer product is hot (and the older technology is not) doesn't necessarily mean the end is in sight for the older technology. I live happily with a PC and an iPad. Each have their niche. I use my PC for real computing processes (programming, games etc) and use my iPad primarily for reading and browsing the web (its main use).
  • Hail Mary Pass

    The PC market is now considered mature. That new learning curve with Win8 could be all the difference in an already mature market, especially with the enterprise. It could cause consumers to shy away from it. Plus Windows 7 is not broken the way Vista was. Vista caused many to either downgrade back to XP or wait it out for the next OS upgrade, Win7 (I was in the latter camp who suffered through Vista as I waited for Win7).

    Microsoft is throwing a desperate 'hail mary' pass here with Win8/Metro. In an effort drag the conversation back to Windows, Windows, Windows PC and away from "post-pc" devices, they've foolishly decided to merge the two markets around Metro. Ever since Zune, Metro have been a love it or hate it UI. It has done nothing to help them or their partners with phone sales. Now they're going to force metro-style onto the entire mature PC market.
    • Force?

      "Now they're going to force metro-style onto the entire mature PC market"

      How so? How is Microsoft forcing anyone to do anything? I keep hearing about how this is the year of Linux and OS X. I also keep hearing about how everyone is going to stick with Windows 7. Can you please provide some backup evidence that MS is going to force everyone to stop using Linux, OS X, Windows 7, and XP and force the entire market to use Windows 8? If you can't, I suggest you retract your claim.
      • Force!

        Buying a new Win PC in the coming months? Say hello to Metro-style whether you'd like to or not. Is there an option for a Metro-less installation I haven't heard about for Windows 8? Do tell?
      • Are you serious about this?

        "Buying a new Win PC in the coming months?"

        That is as ridiculous as saying:
        "Buying a new iPad? Say hello to newstand whether you like it or not. Is there an option for a newstand-less installation I haven't heard about for iOS? Do tell?"

        If you don't want Windows 8 on your new PC, buy a Mac (I hear they are selling quite well?) or buy a Linux PC. But yes, if you buy a Windows PC, you are more than likely going to get the latest version of Windows with it.

        The alternative approach is like Android where some devices come with the latest version and some don't. For some strange reason, you think this is bad too.
      • Newstand?

        Was that the best example? Newstand is not taking over my start-screen when I start up the iPad. Are you really comparing Metro-style on Windows 8 to Newstand.
      • Yes it does

        "Newstand is not taking over my start-screen"

        In case you hadn't heard, there is no way of putting newstand into a "junk" folder along with all the other bloatware that Apple won't let me uninstall on my iDevices.

        Apple is FORCING newstand onto the ENTIRE tablet and smartphone market. You have NO choice but to buy an iDevice with the latest OS on it. None. Nope. None at all.