Tablet slowdown patches up bleeding PC industry for now: IDC

Analysts attributed a dimmer 2015 outlook to "economic and product changes," which "will create a head wind in the short term."
Written by Rachel King, Contributor

Certainly not for the first time, the outlook for the PC industry could be summed up with a glass-half-empty/half-full cliché.

First, the bad news: IDC lowered its 2015 outlook for the global PC market.

According to the market research firm's latest forecast published on Thursday, PC shipments worldwide are now projected to drop by 4.9 percent by the end of this year, a sharper drop than the previously predicted 3.3 percent decline.

Overall, analysts now project 293.1 million PCs to ship this year.

Analysts attributed the changed outlook to "economic and product changes," which "will create a head wind in the short term."

But on the upside, IDC offered a better long-term outlook -- if by better one means less bad.

IDC analysts cited the PC market achieved $201 billion in value in 2014, which was down 0.8 percent year-over year. It's projected to drop another 6.9 percent this year, but analysts now think the decline will get smaller in the years leading up to 2019.

The extra bit of good news -- at least for PC makers -- is that tablet market growth is starting to wane after a few years of explosion.

"The PC ecosystem has also begun to see some fruits from efforts to narrow the divide between the PC and mobile devices in terms of both user experience and price points," explained Jay Chou, a senior research analyst covering Worldwide PC Trackers for IDC. "Nevertheless, much more needs to be done as advances in both hardware and software are expected to benefit an ever wider spectrum of form factors, such as 2-in-1 devices that will further siphon volume from notebooks."

PCs should get an extra boost from the debut of Windows 10 later this year, which IDC analysts said should answer some of these hardware and software demands.

Loren Loverde, vice president of IDC's Worldwide PC Trackers team, warned long-term growth still depends on emerging regions -- markets that tend to favor mobile platforms over anything else these days.

"Even including 2-in-1 systems would only boost the compound annual growth rate (CAGR) for total PC shipments through 2019 from -1.1% to 0.5%," Loverde concluded. "Vendors can focus on growth segments of the PC market such as AIO, slim and convertible PCs, or consolidate share, but pressure on pricing and from competing devices will continue to make it a challenging market."

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