New U.S. sales figures show the changing face of PC and tablet markets in 2013

New U.S. sales figures show the changing face of PC and tablet markets in 2013

Summary: A snapshot of the U.S. commercial sales channel for the first 11 months of 2013 shows a big shift in the marketplace for computing devices. Windows PCs are flat, Apple PCs are down, and tablets of all kinds (including Android and Windows devices) are way up. But the big winner is the Chromebook.


A new study released just before Christmas by The NPD Group paints a vivid picture of how the marketplace for PCs and tablets shifted in 2013. It also offers some clues about what to expect in 2014.

According to NPD, in the 11 months from January through November 2013, 14.4 million desktops, notebooks, and tablets were sold through U.S. commercial channels. That total includes only preconfigured notebooks and desktop PCs, and it doesn’t include direct channels. As a result, the number of devices sold represents only a fraction of total sales in the U.S. By way of contrast, IDC’s most recent Quarterly PC Tracker report shows that 16.4 million notebook and desktop PCs (tablets not included in the total) were shipped in the U.S. in the third quarter alone.

So the NPD number offers a snapshot of what American businesses and institutions are buying through the commercial channel, which includes large distributors and resellers. To summarize: Simpler and cheaper is better. Windows-based desktop sales increased by about 10 percent and Windows notebooks stayed flat, while sales of Apple notebooks and desktops combined fell by 7 percent, NPD said.

Meanwhile, tablets of all kinds and Chromebooks showed the greatest year-over-year growth.

  • Android tablet sales grew more than 160 percent, accounting for 8.7 percent of all sales in this channel.
  • Windows tablet sales nearly tripled during that period, off a very small base, reaching 2.2 percent of all devices sold through the channel.
  • The iPad slipped in share year over year, although it still commands 59 percent of all tablet sales in this channel.
  • Chromebooks were the big winner, according to NPD. The cheap devices from HP, Acer, Samsung, and others “accounted for 21 percent of all [preconfigured] notebook sales, up from negligible share in the prior year, and 8 percent of all computer and tablet sales through November, up from one tenth of a percent in 2012.”

While those are impressive percentage gains, it’s too early to declare any of the products on that list a hit. Unlike PCs and notebooks, Chromebooks are sold almost exclusively through the retail channel and into education markets. Some quick calculations from the NPD figures suggest that a total of 923,000 Chromebooks and 836,000 Android tablets were sold to U.S. buyers through these channels over the first 11 months of 2013. During the same period in the same channel, more than 1.5 million iPads were sold, while Windows tablet sales went from practically zero to approximately 317,000 in the same period.

The mostly flat sales for Windows PCs reflect a tepid response to Windows 8. That should change in 2014, as new products that were introduced with the launch of Windows 8.1 on October 26 reach the market. Windows 8.1-based hybrids like the ASUS T100 Transformer and smaller tablets such as the Dell Venue 8 Pro have been selling well and getting good reviews. Microsoft has struggled to keep its new Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2 devices in stock, a welcome change from last year, when it had to take a massive writedown on unsold devices.

“The market for personal computing devices in commercial markets continues to shift and change,” said Stephen Baker, NPD’s vice president of industry analysis. The winners this year, he noted, were brands that focused on alternative form factors and operating systems. Baker cautioned against declaring the death of the PC, however: “[T]he Windows PC in commercial channels is clearly not dead, and its biggest brand proponents, HP and Lenovo, remain deeply committed to that product. However, as businesses upgrade from older machines and operating systems in the year ahead, the long-term trend is clearly towards greater hardware diversity, which all manufacturers will need to embrace in order to continue to grow.”

Topics: PCs, Android, Apple, Mobility, Tablets, Windows

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  • From Lenovo and Dell at least, we're probably seeing

    the Enterprise purchases out of reduced fear of Windows 8.1 (even if a lot of those shipments actually run Windows 7.) Businesses mostly need full computers, and there's a limit to how suppressed that market can get.
    • PC makers plan rebellion against Windows

      PC makers plan rebellion against Windows at 2014 CES, analysts say
      Published December 27,
      • I would agree with that.

        And Apple is raking in the profits as always...this time because of their iPad Air (someone got me one for Christmas this year so the mini get's inherited by a friend).
        • What really happened? Linux won in all fronts

          Global market share of Q2/Q3 2013:

          1. Smartphones: Android Linux 80%
          2. Tablets: Android Linux 64%
          3. Mobile-nonmobile rate = 4:1

          Total market share of all new devices (smartphone, tablet, pc)

          1. Android Linux 60%
          2. Apple systems 16%
          3. Windows 15% (pirate Windows share unknown)
          4. Other systems ( share other Linux distributions unknown, some 3 million ChromeOS portables sold globally).

          And don't forget how Linux is dominating stock market operation systems, servers (85%) and supercomputers (91-94%).

          Only most ignorant Windows and Apple fanboys are now denying the victory of Linux and open source software during A.D 2013.
          Napoleon XIV
          • Smile Napoleon, and you too Mr. Bott

            Linux is finally getting recognition of it's superiority and dominance. Even Ed is admitting it. :-) So maybe there is a better future ahead. I'm a proponent of Microsoft adopting the Linux kernel because it would be better for everyone if we all worked on the same platform. It would increase efficiency and therefore productivity. Come on Microsoft, now would be a fine time to join in.
      • So let me get this straight...

        "PC makers plan rebellion against Windows at 2014 CES, analysts say Published December 27,"

        So, Android for x86 has been a "thing" for a short while now. Conceivably, OEMs could build x86 machines that run only Android. For free. Without paying any licensing costs to Microsoft at all.

        Fox "News" (shudder - only in America could Fox be considered a news source) posts an article that says OEMs plan to essentially install a virtulization layer on top of Windows in order to allow Android apps to run on their machines, (all the while still paying the so-called "Microsoft Tax") and this is somehow a "rebellion" against Windows?

        Somewhere it seems logic has been replaced by hyperbole.. but then again, we're talking about Fox "News" and the good ol USA. No wonder the rest of the world just sits back and laughs at you these days.
        • .....But the big winner among consumer is the chromebook

          This is what the numbers are showing but I can't say it is the same the other way around. I don't how much time it will take for people to understand that Google's business model is to steal personal information, profile users, lure them into thinking that most of their products are free or very cheap and then rip them off by selling all their personal information. Nothing is free and your personal information, your identity, your integrity is way high in terms of price to pay.

          I must admit that Google search is great and that some of their other product are among the best but they keep on changing their confidentiality terms. Google reads your email, word by word, open your cloud documents, analyse whatever you put on Google docs or Google plus, cross reference all your data with your relation and then... sell these data to third party or who ever will buy your precious data or use it to sell ads directly targeted to you. It is not only a question of how you can intellectually protect yourself against theses practices, it's a question of trust and honesty.

          Google is like those Walt Disney's witches that offers you a candy and then tries to turn you into her slave. Wake up guys!
          • Microsoft Does Similary

            I am working on an older Laptop. In this process searching official Microsoft Sites for repairs.
            'Your use of this Site... and Ads' Couldn't help but notice.
            They all do it.
            Google may be the worst offender, but by how much?
            If Folk trouble themselves to search a bit in configurations, you can opt out of a lot directly, further by 3rd Party Tools.
            Even in Android, I opt out of Interest Based Ads and change my Advertising ID from time to time. The Learn More there can protect you further.
          • Why do I have to type this on?

            Many of us are well aware of what Google is doing. Personally, I don't care if Google has access to my grocery lists on Google Drive, or if they know I spent an hour last night watching cat videos on Youtube. (It's okay, we all do it.) If I want to search for something that I don't want Google tying to my identity, I don't use Google for that. I consider email without encryption to be public knowledge anyway, since it pretty much is. Plus, they find ways to directly benefit me with their harvesting of my data, so I'm good with it. I just don't do/store anything super private with their stuff. As for ads, I block them anyway, so whatever :P
          • Friend

            Remind me to never become your friend
          • Facebook do the same?

            Why pick out Google. Facebook do the same thing in a far more incidious way they are using your data to understand more about you in a ways even George Orwell had not imagined. A lot of bits of history are going to come back and haunt people in 20 years time.

            Of course MS (and some ZDnet writes) try to take the high hand and claim they do not sell data to third parties. No of course not they make their money by using your data for themselves and their marketing and giving it away to the security services. Or do you think all that code in your word files is just there to make managing the text easier?
          • run what ya wish

            Use DuckDuckGo for search, and Microsoft and Skydrive for docs, if you don't trust Google. Google Docs, BTW, seem to load up faster than Microsoft, but both work really well. I do like for browser email.

            Why would Google sell your data? If they want the information to use for ad matching, why then would they sell it to someone else?
          • @mytake4this

            Insurance companies, private security and investigation firm, survey firm, marketing analysis companies, government agencies, and..... your guesses are as good as mine. Your personal information is very worthy
          • Anyone know the math?

            So what would the cash equivalent of the advertising revenue for Google users be? I wonder whether we would pay it, too. Say it's $60 per year per user (I have no idea). Not everyone would pay it, and few of the costs would scale linearly. So what would the same services actually wind up being? 10 times that?

            I'm not being rhetorical, asking truly.
    • Most businesses won't need full computers into the future

      As applications move into the cloud, most businesses will be able to transition to lightweight 'thin' computing devices, or even browser-based devices.

      The few business that actually need a heavy computer on everyone's desk would be better to go with Linux, which gives them more control, and more certainty going into the future.

      Microsoft Windows is deflating in the consumer market. That's a bad omen for the future.
      • Linux Providing More Control

        Can you expand upon that thought? I'm curious what it means. Do you mean centralized configuration management or something else?

        If you do mean centralized configuration management, I'd be surprised if Linux exceeds Windows. For years and years Microsoft has provided ridiculously granular levels of centralized desktop management through various mechanisms. If Linux is better, I'm really out of touch and had no idea it had made that much progress.
        • You get control because you're not forced to do things you don't want

          There is uncertainty with Microsoft Windows. It has lost its momentum. The money available to develop Windows will decrease. At the same time, Microsoft is trying to force businesses to use an interface that nobody wants.

          If the full-PC becomes the minority (while the rest of the world moves to thin ARM devices), then Linux is then a better bet. It can survive because it has an army of open-source developers that will keep it going. You can see and modify and control the code. You're not forced into situations you don't want (like the hated Windows Metro).
          • That doesn't really answer robradina's question, Vb...

            The question was whether an IT department could easily control a network of Linux machines to the same granular level and with the same ease as can be done with Windows and Group Policies.

            However Windows will be developed in the future if and when Microsoft starts to go broke, and whatever interface is being "forced" upon the end users is pretty irrelevant here.

            I can't answer the question because I honestly don't know. Sounds like you don't either. Why don't you just say so instead of blowing smoke up his ass?
          • Then the answer is yes.

            Using LDAP/Kerberos and file servers accomplishes the same things that MS does.

            After all, Microsoft AD is nothing but a butchered Kerberos add to a butchered LDAP.
          • Left out..

            And a broken DNS.