Total PC shipments in 2013 fell by 10.1pc – more than the predicted 9.7pc – according to IDC. The analyst firm predicts shipments are expected to decline by 3.8pc next year and some 300m devices will ship during the year, barely ahead of 2008 volumes.
The business market is faring notably better than the consumer market in 2013, with shipments declining by -5pc year-over-year compared to nearly -15pc 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.
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,” Chou said.
Windows to the future
IDC vice-president for Worldwide Quarterly PC Trackers Loren Loverde said the emergence of two-in-one 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.
“The Windows-based tablet market is expected to grow to 39.3m units in 2017 from less than 7.5m in 2013 and less than 1m in 2011.
“However, relative to a PC market size of roughly 300m 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 10pc of a combined PC and Windows tablet market by 2016 – making them an important growth segment for the PC ecosystem,” Loverde said.