Following up on a report last month that predicted a 1.3 percent drop in global PC sales this year following a disappointing third quarter of 2012, International Data Corp. now sees a much larger 7.8 percent drop for 2013.
The Framingham, Mass.-based industry research firm's Worldwide Quarterly PC Tracker shows the computing market very much in flux as consumers put off or decide against buying personal computers because of the array of tablets and other mobile devices that allow many of the same uses with the added benefit of portability.
Sinking Faster than Expected
Rather than slowly sinking in 2013 with a gradual increase in shipments down the road, IDC now sees a 7.8 percent drop this year followed by an additional 1.2 percent in 2014, with shipment volume reaching only 333 million in 2017. Shipments totaled 349 million in 2012, and the 363 million shipped in 2011 appears to be the industry peak.
In explaining the firm's adjusted forecast, Jay Chou, IDC senior worldwide PC tracker and research analyst, told us he sees curbed enthusiasm even in areas where PC sales had previously been highest.
"The Q1 2013 results came in much lower than what we had forecasted, which in and of itself, contributed to a lower outlook," Chou said.
"In addition, we are not seeing much momentum in the PC space, consumer sentiment is lacking in many markets, including even emerging markets, despite still relatively low penetration rates.
The news isn't entirely bad: IDC does see some enterprise users upgrading existing computers that are becoming outdated. For example, Microsoft will end support for the Windows XP operating system, released back in 2001, next year. But the company also noted that large buyers have recently tended to replace computers individually rather than systemwide to reduce costs, and falling prices haven't induced them to change that pattern.
"In addition, the BYOD ("bring your own device") phenomenon has moved from smartphones to tablets and PCs, with nearly 25 percent of employees in organizations larger than 10 people claiming to have purchased the primary PC they use for work," said Bob O'Donnell, program vice president for Clients and Displays at IDC, in a statement regarding the new research.
"This means that some of the corporate PC purchases we expected this year will no longer happen."
Growth in Laptops in Poorer Nations
According to IDC, shipments of desktop PCs will decline from 94.9 percent last year to 82.1 percent in 2017 in emerging markets, while portable PCs will grow from 110.4 million to 209 million. In mature markets, desktops will slip from 53.4 million units shipped to 41.8 million, while portables will slip from 90.6 million to 82 million.
"As the market develops, usage patterns and devices are evolving," said Loren Loverde, program vice president for Worldwide Quarterly PC Trackers at IDC. "Many users are realizing that everyday computing, such as accessing the Web, connecting to social media, sending e-mails, as well as using a variety of apps, doesn't require a lot of computing power or local storage."