Worldwide PC shipments expected to plunge by 10 percent

IDC expects worldwide PC shipments to decline even further than first thought, partly in due to a PC market decline but also a further expansion in tablet and smartphone sales.
Written by Zack Whittaker, Contributor
Despite sparks still flying in the PC market, the fire is already out.
Image: CNET

Things aren't looking so great for the PC market. 

According to latest figures by research firm IDC, worldwide PC shipments are expected to drop by 9.7 percent in 2013. The reason, according to the firm, is due to a cessation in desktops and notebooks shipping to emerging markets, compounded by an uptick in smartphone and tablet shipments.

The PC market is expected to decline through to at least 2014, although the firm believes a modest single-digit growth could be seen in early 2015.

But IDC also issued a stark warning to PC makers, who are stuck in the desktop and notebook space: The technology industry will likely never regain the peak in PC shipment volumes last seen in 2011.

There was a particular focus on emerging markets, which are no longer as interested in the traditional computer as they once were. These emerging markets, including BRIC nations — which includes China — are contracting at a faster rate than mature markets.

While China's double-digit decline in shipments compared to 2012 was noted as having a significant knock-on effect to the PC market, it's just one of a "litany of factors" that have left the market lurching.

Here's what we're seeing:

Screen Shot 2013-08-29 at 15.35.23
Image: IDC

Breaking these figures down, it's clear to see that the emerging markets are rejecting desktop PCs on a greater scale than mature markets, and despite a dip this year there's still a strong chance of recovery in developing nations.

So long as there's a steady stream of notebook refreshes in the next few months, as we've seen in recent years, the firm notes, PC manufacturers can expect a small rebound next year.

"The days where one can assume tablet disruptions are purely a First World problem are over," according to IDC senior research analyst Jay Chou, speaking in prepared remarks. "Advances in PC hardware, such as improvements in the power efficiency of x86 processors remain encouraging, and Windows 8.1 is also expected to address a number of well-documented concerns."

It will also tie in with businesses taking the "first serious look" beyond Windows 7, Microsoft's three-year old operating system, which remains a popular choice in the enterprise market. But also: "We also anticipate operating system migration [Windows XP to Windows 7] will drive some volume in the commercial segment," according to IDC's Rajani Singh.

The bottom line is simple: desktop PCs are out, notebooks still have some life left in them, but it may just be enough to stave off a complete collapse of the industry by the latter part of this decade.  

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