PC shipments to decline further; no significant recovery expected

PC shipments to decline further; no significant recovery expected

Summary: IDC reckons the number of PCs shipped will decline even further to double-digits. The research firm describes it as the most severe yearly contraction on record.

TOPICS: Hardware

Based on latest figures from research firm IDC, the PC market will decline even further as this year's shipments will plummet by 10.1 percent, down from the previous projection of 9.7 percent.

IDC said in a release published Monday it is by far the "most severe yearly contraction on record."

Because interest in PCs remain limited, the firm explained, as the world increasingly takes up tablets and post-PC devices, there's little chance of the traditional desktop and notebook market showing positive growth beyond device replacement.

Total shipments are expected to decline by an additional 3.8 percent in 2014, but may show some signs of positive growth in the longer term. Even in emerging markets, which have previously seen increased growth, developing countries are losing interest in PCs with shipments expected to decline in 2014.

Emerging market shipments are expected to recovery by "only a few percent" by 2017.

The business and commercial market is faring better than the consumer market, suggesting enterprise customers are powering the overall shipments. The long-term outlook for both markets aren't far off each other, however.

"The Windows-based tablet market is expected to grow to 39.3 million units in 2017 from less than 7.5 million in 2013 and less than 1 million in 2011," according to IDC's Loren Loverde. 

"However, relative to a PC market size of roughly 300 million units, these Windows tablets would add just a couple percent a year relative to PC growth. Even so, these Windows devices are projected to account for 10 percent of a combined PC and Windows Tablet market by 2016 – making them an important growth segment for the PC ecosystem," she said.

Screen Shot 2013-12-02 at 17.26.25
(Image: IDC)

Topic: Hardware

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  • Windows problem?

    The role that the widely disliked Windows 8 plays in the decline is severely under reported and generally ignored.

    But it is a large contributor.
    • Mac sales are down as well.

      Global PC sales are falling, not just Windows-based computers.

      If anything, 8's overall contribution is insignificant.
      • Microsoft will go into decline

        It had to happen at some time, and Microsoft's decline is now about to start.

        The people are finally deserting Windows PCs. As the analyst said, no recovery is expected.

        Some are blaming the decline on the Windows 8 disaster. I think it is because there are better things around.

        The PC is no longer compelling. People get excited by smart phones and tablets, but nobody gets excited by a Windows PC any more.
        • @ Vbitrate

          The PC market has actually declined due to the decreasing role of retail stores which are increasingly becoming experience stores coupled with increasing role of mobile carrier retail stores in device distribution. But this 2nd variable will also hit an increment limit at some point of time in the developed markets. At that time, newer changes including increasing sales of mobile devices online (without retail store involvement) as well as disrupted mobile carrier business models (including freemium models like FreedomPop) will kick in.

          We are probably still in the 1st stage of business cycle disruption from mobile taking over from fixed devices. And the newer business model disruptions occurring from devices like $100 Lumia or Moto-G devices coupled with free or low text/data/voice rates is what will drive the consumer markets in the 2nd stage.

          The above explanation for distributional business changes explains most of the changes in PC, tablet and smartphone markets with one exception - Apple. People visit Apple stores to buy Apple devices. And repeat sales for newer Apple device versions have so far propelled Apple company revenues and profits though marketshare has not increased significantly since Jan 2012 for any of their PC, phone and tablet devices. But even Apple consumer sales (and copycat Samsung sales) will also hit limits using this business model.

          Expect Apple to hit the limit (may be it did already since no new momentum exists recently) soon. And then....even current mobile device leaders will start to become irrelevant since device usage will be only as a conduit to your data. Whether it is an AIO PC or a tower PC or a laptop PC or a convertible PC or a 3"/5"/7" phone or 9"/11"/15" tablet will be irrelevant. Since you will have the same kind of access using any device ( using NLP, machine learning, data mining techniques on your cloud data etc).

          Ultimately a decade from now, a $200 15" convertible PC with a $50 5" or 7" phone is all you will need to access your business or consumer data. May be, a 7" device itself would be enough.

          So do not count on things being the same.

          FYI, I still think Microsoft stores are a bad investment idea. Microsoft should invest in online presence and online sales of Surface, Xbox and Lumia devices. That is a better low-cost and lower margin business. Experience stores are different. Having flagship experience stores is a great idea. But trying the Apple route of owning retail stores is a bad investment in the end as time will prove this right.
        • They can predict it all they want

          I'm still not seeing any evidence of it. They have been predicting Windows downfall for years, and despite that HP, Dell, Toshiba, and Lenovo all saw increased sales last quarter.
          Microsoft has doubled its market value since 2009, has managed to keep windows based profits up, and released a full version of windows that can run very well on some rather inexpensive hardware.
          In short, Microsoft is and will be the top software company in the world for the foreseeable future.
          • Comparison

            the "post PC" tablet market isn't that large, yet. It is expanding, but it was interesting, that Apple has sold as many tablets in 3 years as the PC industry sells PCs in a bad quarter.

            The tablet market is growing and the PC market is shrinking, but there is still a long way to go, before the pass each other.
          • The end of the PC Era is already here


            The point at which tablets outsells PCs is almost upon us. It will come next year, and next year isn't far away. So, better get ready for the Post PC Era.

          • @Vbitrate

            I can't do my job on a tablet, nor can many of my co-workers (maybe 2%). Well, I can, I have a tablet that sits in a desktop dock, connected to a 24" monitor, mouse and keyboard and I use the tablet side for browsing at home or taking notes in meetings. But using it as a tablet to do my job? Nope, not a chance.
          • The end of the PC era is already here! Ha! Clearly wrong.

            We always hear the same nonsense from the same people.

            Firstly, nobody seems to want to describe exactly what the PC era is that is gone. If you simply mean a world where there are no tablets or no smartphones and desktops and laptops are all there is for practical computing of any real kind....I guess your right. But that means almost nothing.

            Firstly we know as a fact that the most important reason of all that PC's are not selling the way they used to is that we are finally dealing with a saturated market, secondly that hardware is now more powerful and reliable than ever before and seldom needs upgrading like in the past, and people, much to the consternation of Windows haters have figured out that operating systems, much unlike a car for example, can last for pretty much forever. As in Windows XP forever.

            It adds up quickly to no need for replacements nearly as often and few new users in rich countries that have traditionally bought millions of PC's. So ya, your not going to see some huge resurgence in sales. Is that what you mean about a post PC world with literally hundreds on hundreds of millions of Windows users happily zipping along on their desktop and laptop Windows PC's that are now just a lot older because they have no reason to buy a new one?

            Nobody is throwing out their PC my friend. Only some people are even using them less. And the fact is, even if they have a stack of tablets sitting on their coffee tables like paperweights they still use their PC's very nearly as often as they used to.

            Its also a fact that much of the use tablets get is brand new computing, not PC replacement computing. I know this as a fact as I live and work in areas that expose me to various work environments around a huge city that has thousands of offices that have traditionally used PC's and they are ALL still using desktop and/or the laptop PC's they always did. Nobody's having PC yard sales or bonfires.

            I haven't heard a single soul I know or have even sat down at in a coffee shop beside anyone who has said they are thinking of giving up their desktop PC because they can do all their work and entertainment from a tablet. Its not happening my friend. Im terribly sorry for your disappointment but its just not happening.

            Is it very very likely that PC sales will never be what they were? I bet they will never be quite what they were. Is Microsoft just going to slide off into the sunset?

            Ha! Not ever.

            There isnt even so much as a single solitary thing that would give a REASONABLE person the thought that this was likely. It just isnt.

            But what is VERY likely to happen as time passes is that not only will Windows continue to dominate in the full size/non highly mobile market they always have, but they will actually, as they already are doing so, begin to slowly gain traction in the tablet market and smartphone market and the end result is there will actually be more Windows operating systems in service in total in 5 years then there are today!

            And this there is already evidence for because we know as a fact that the over all Windows install base of machines in usage has no evidence of decline even though sales are down, just more older systems around, and we know as a fact there are more Windows tablets and smartphones around then there was a year ago. And predictions are that will increase, not decrease!!

            So what are you really talking about end of the PC era.

            The fact also exists that most market watchers who actually understand the market and not just live and die by the brand they like also understand that tablet and smartphone sales will likewise level off as the next few years go by and there is still not a single thing in sight yet thats actually set to replace a PC entirely.

            People really have to get a grip. Their outlook on the future of IT is so horribly laden with hatred for Microsoft they are ready to kick it to the curb when Microsoft is actually doing very well, and competing, and showing signs they are starting to make headway in NEW market areas and that they are not prepared to give up. Ever.

            And why would they? They have many many billions to play with and will no doubt continue to generate many more billions in the next few years even if they dont increase sales in the new form factors. So they are not running out of money desire or inspiration to remain highly relevent any time soon.
          • This is right

            Yeah, this is right. MS has been having record revenues the last couple of years. They're not exactly hurting. And most of the tablet makers seems to be PC makers, so their business model may be shifting but they don't seem to be dying off.

            But when people see numbers like this they tend to interpret it to fit their own biases. If they want to read them as an indication MS is dying (whether due to Win 8 or something else), they'll do that, despite the fact that looking at actual MS revenues over the last few years tells a different story. MS isn't going to die any time soon, nor is Apple, nor Samsung, or any of the very big players in the field.
          • Record revenue

            Based on massive price hikes.



            That will only work for so long as some customers blink at renewal time and then walk away.
        • PCs last longer

          people still need PCs to do a lot of jobs - heck, we sold more PCs this year than the last 2 years together.

          A lot of home users already have a PC that is "adequate". It isn't super fast, it doesn't have Haswell, but it probably has a Core 2 processor or better and a couple of GB RAM, which is more than enough for most tasks.

          In addition they are buying a tablet as a companion device, using that most of the time, only going back to the PC when they need to do a lot of work or need to look at information in a broader form than is possible on the small screen of a tablet.

          In business, it is the other way round. For a majority of "normal" office workers a tablet doesn't bring any benefits. They need a large screen and they are tied to their desk anyway, apart from the odd meeting.

          Mobile workers might find some use for a tablet, but it is still limited verticals. In fact a lot of our sales workers have iPads, as well as notebooks, and they complain that, apart from email, they don't really see the point of the iPad and they pull out their notebook when they need to "get work done."

          Tablets and other 'post-PC' devices are fine for some tasks, but they can't replace all tasks a PC is used for. The old "truck" metaphore. Over time tablets will be ablet to take on more and more tasks, but for some tasks you will always need a PC, either because of the processing power needed, input methods or screen real-estate; you aren't going to hang 3 QHD or 4K monitors on an iPad, for example.
      • Mac decline not as big as PC decline

        So I am not sure Windows 8 finds itself exonerated for its role in PC sales. That said, the arrival of tablets is unquestionably the bigger part of the story.
        • Come on!

          Of course the decline is smaller. You want to know why? Because the Mac's market share is miniscule compared to Windows. So of course the decline is smaller.
          • That's not how math works

            Declines in sales are measured in percentages, not absolute numbers. PC sales overall have been down 9-11 percent. Mac sales year over year, 2012 to 2013 are about 7 percent down.

            7% is the smaller decline.
        • @ Mac_PC_FenceSitter

          Apple always had better repeat sales from same customers than any Windows PC OEM. That would explain their better than rest decline rates in PC sales. But an 15" iPad Mega (compare it with a 10" iPad Air) will decimate the Mac PC demand.

          But I would expect Apple to go ahead and introduce a 15" iPad device. They have always shown a better willingness to cannibalize their existing products than most peers.

          And the device I really expect to cannibalize the PC most will be the convertible PC. Especially a Surfacebook. Hope Microsoft consumer hardware device reads that there is pentup demand for a 13" or 15" Surfacebook device.
        • Tablets arrived in 2004

          Just ask my Toshiba Portege.

          There is no such thing as a "post-PC" computer.

          What makes a tablet different than, say, a netbook? They are the same size, have about the same processing power. They are both portable, mobile.

          So... a different OS makes something "not a PC"? I would argue it simply makes it another type of PC... just like Mac is another type of PC. Or Linux.
        • Then Mavericks and Mountain Lion

          must be incredibly bad, Windows 8 has outsold both of them combined... ;-)
          • and

            Apple made more money off of the iPhone vs ALL Microsoft products.
          • I find interesting that...

            a few lines above you posted that MS record revenues are based on MS rising the cost for servers applications, while now you seem to forget that most of the Apple revenue is because the high cost of the iPhone (iPhone 5s $649-$849 / iPhone 5c $549-$649). IMO, both companies offer great products that, while are not cheap, people keep purchasing them even though there are other options. Is this a bad thing?