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

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

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


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

Topics: PCs, Hardware, Hewlett-Packard, Lenovo, Tech Industry

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  • Level Off

    It is only a matter of time before it levels off. The idea that PCs are going to 'Die' is laughable.
    • nothing ever "dies"

      typewriters are still around in some departments. Its a relative statement indicating negative growth.
      • Ok

        Use to be a typewriter for every receptionists/secretary/assistant plus a few other people. How many of them have one now and when was it last used? I can only guess some dumb company that doesn't have PDF forms.
    • Errr

      Wasn't it Steve Jobs who said that? But he continued to sell his laptops. Sort of like saying smoking isn't good for you and five minutes later is trying to sell you some.
      • I'm a reply to Gisabun

        The people don't need it. But the Sheeple will still buy iBuy it. (i was only half kidding)
  • It's just stabilizing from market overload!

    I think consumers have just finally figured out, we don't always need the latest and greatest wiz-bang CPU.

    I mean everybody who has tried to keep up with the technology trends now has (or at one time had): a desktop with a dual core CPU; a windows handheld device; a laptop; a smart phone; a desktop with a quad-core CPU; maybe a Mac; a notebook; a new smartphone with high-speed 3G/4G/etc...; a tablet. Since 90% of technology consumers just ingest media, and not create it, they don't need another whiz-bang tech gadget yet.
  • Doom and gloom overblown to begin with.

    ZDNet relishes the "die" language, and lives on the hype train. "Doom and gloom" was a product of its own imagination to begin with, not anything real.
  • Doom and gloom for PC market might not be as bad as expected, IDC hints

    The PC market is evening out. This was to be expected when all the headlines were raging about the death of the PC and no one believed them. There might be less PC's being sold but it was never doomed.
    • chromebooks have resulted in stabilizing the forecast

      • Chromebooks are not PCs, and they're not competitors to PCs,

        and they're insignificant in comparison to "real" PC sales.
      • Huh?

        Crappy Chromebooks haven't made a dent. It's a techie laptop. Look at the Netmarketshare web site. It isn't listed with the major OSs. It isn't even bigger than Linux [at around 1.25%]. Amazon can say they are selling well but I don't know many people who'd buy from Amazon and Amazon is just one of many sellers. In some countries like in Canada, if they sell a Chromebook in a store, it is generally a single model.
  • From my point of view..................

    Windows 8 was/is the biggest problem......
    In our business model we DONT use touch devices.
    PC's and Notebooks with out TOUCH with WIN7 PRO 64bit and MS Office 2010 PRO ONLY.
    We can and are still able to source systems with these and also with the CD/DVD media.
    We will bypass Windows 8 (have it loaded on 2 systems and updated) and if MS dont give us back in WIN9 the Start Button/Menu as it was in WIN7 then we will be left by MS with no option but to ditch Microsoft products altogether bye bye MS...
    • Not credible at all...

      No company will ever just "ditch" Windows and have to convert to a new way of doing things with no added costs to that conversion.

      Windows 8/8.1 works just as well as Windows 7, and actually, better. The desktop is there in Windows 8, and it can be tailored to work just as well, or better, than Windows 7.

      Chances are that, you were never in the MS ecosystem to begin with. You just took the opportunity to attack your favorite tech villain, Microsoft.
      • Sorry speaking from Experience......

        We have and use the following and have for years used Microsoft products....
        115 users using Windows 7pro, Office 2010 pro, with a sprinkling of Linix (Mint).
        For us to transition to WIN8 and Office 2013 would incur the following expenses.....
        Cost in NZ dollars of WIN8 PRO $349.00 + GST
        Cost of Office 2013 PRO $850.00 + GST
        Cost of system upgrades not all require this $250.00 for NON Touch which is all we use
        Cost Of training each user $250.00 + GST
        Loss of Production while training $120.00 per hour for each user = $240 each user

        We want to remain in business thank you
  • PC "Death"

    A version of this story has been running off and on for 20 YEARS!!

    • Yup

      Invented from the useless "research" companies like IDC. I'm sure a few forecasted huge growth in netbooks in 2010 and 2011. :-)
  • Maturing Markets

    PC and related sales will flatten as the markets worldwide staturate. All new markets roughly follow the same pattern: introduction, experimentation, rapid market growth, saturation, then replacement. PCs are probably in the last two phases: saturation is being reached in many markets and in some markets sales are replacement for much older, worn out equipment. Saturation occurs when there are relatively few new customers available to become first time buyers without replacing people leaving the market. Replacement is when the units sold are primarily replacing a previous device of a similar type with new users roughly replacing exit users.
  • Just remember,

    when you KEEP putting ideas in peoples heads, eventually they BELIEVE it.

    The day the desktop dies, is the day I get completely away from computers, and technology. For what I do, I NEED a desktop. Not some little POS tablet or laptop that I can barely read!!!!!!! I need 2x inch monitors, or larger!

    Quit trying to make the manufacturers believe that the desktop is about to die! PLEASE!!!!

    You can't imagine how MAD I get when I read this garbage!!!!!!!!!!

  • It's all about cost, mind share and form factor

    Since 2007, all the growth in the PC market was really coming from the developing markets, where the next billion first time PC buyers were supposed to come from. While some PCs were adopted by local small business, the bulk of the growth was being driven by consumers in the developing world who simply wanted to take advantage of all the Internet had to offer in terms of cheaper communication.

    The PC was the only gateway to these Internet-based capabilities (you needed a dial-up modem or ethernet port and a web browser) so buying a PC was mandatory. Once the low cost smartphone entered these markets and began to be heavily marketed and facilitated by carriers, it immediately began taking over the role as the first-line device for daily Internet the expense of the PC. It has vast mind share now and the capabilities of the low end devices steadily improves, so PC sales in the developing markets are never going to recover. You can't sell PCs if former and potential customers no longer need to think about them.

    The only people who will be buying PCs in the future are those who actually need a PC for things that only a PC can do. But that's just a fraction of the current global user base, so the market will continue to decline until only those people are left buying PCs. Eventually, slow PC sales are going to affect availability (and possibly increase the selling price) of the devices in some developing markets. The number of local PC vendors selling traditional PCs is going to fall as these vendors shift away from stocking devices that don't have enough buyers to sustain their businesses. But no, the PC market isn't dead or dying. It's just losing all the people who bought PCs because of the Internet.
  • Formula to increase PC sales

    Write software that demands more powerful hardware. My PC from 19 months ago runs anything at max settings and nothing is coming out anytime soon to change that. Once it does my PC will be replaced with an upgraded desktop, not a slim mobile form factor that cant handle it.
    Do you codeheads really have every resource youve ever wanted?
    I didnt think so. Now get your butts to work so the hardware doesnt stagnate. Push the damn envelope again!