Research firm IDC updated its PC shipment forecast for 2013. The company now expects sales will decline by 10.1 percent this year, slightly below the previous projection of a fall of 9.7 percent. According to the current forecast, 314.2 million desktop and portable PCs will ship this year, down from 349.4 million in 2012. IDC expects PC sales will decline to 305.1 million units in 2017.
Worldwide PC shipments are expected to fall by -10.1% in 2013, slightly below the previous projection of -9.7%, and by far the most severe yearly contraction on record, according to the International Data Corporation (IDC) Worldwide Quarterly PC Tracker. Interest in PCs has remained limited, leading to little indication of positive growth beyond replacement of existing systems.
Total shipments are expected to decline by an additional -3.8% in 2014 before turning slightly positive in the longer term. At these rates, total PC shipments will remain just above 300 million during the forecast - barely ahead of 2008 volumes. Even in emerging markets - a primary growth engine of the PC market - shipments are projected to decline in 2014 and recover by only a few percent during the forecast.
The commercial market is faring notably better than the consumer market in 2013 with shipments declining by -5% year over year compared to nearly -15% for consumer. The relative stability is due to a mix of more stable PC investment planning, a smaller impact from tablets, and to replacements of Windows XP systems before the end of support planned for 2014. However, the long-term outlook for the two markets is not significantly different, with a small decline projected for both consumer and commercial segments in 2014 with near flat growth in the longer term.
"Perhaps the chief concern for future PC demand is a lack of reasons to replace an older system," said Jay Chou, Senior Research Analyst, Worldwide Quarterly PC Trackers at IDC. "While IDC research finds that the PC still remains the primary computing device - for example, PCs are used more hours per day than tablets or phones - PC usage is nonetheless declining each year as more devices become available. And despite industry efforts, PC usage has not moved significantly beyond consumption and productivity tasks to differentiate PCs from other devices. As a result, PC lifespans continue to increase, thereby limiting market growth."
"The emergence of 2-in-1 devices designed to function in both clamshell and slate configurations - many of which will run Windows - along with Windows-based tablets themselves, is expected to provide some new volume for the Windows platform as well as the PC vendors and other parts of the traditional PC ecosystem in coming years," said Loren Loverde, Vice President Worldwide Quarterly PC Trackers. "The Windows-based tablet market (covered in IDC's Worldwide Quarterly Tablet Tracker) is expected to grow to 40.8 million units in 2017 from less than 9 million in 2013 and less than 1 million in 2011. 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% of a combined PC & Windows Tablet market by 2016 - making them an important growth segment for the PC ecosystem."