PC sales on track for first decline in 11 years, Windows 8 boost required

11 Oct 2012

Annual PC sales are set to decline for the first time since the dot-com bubble burst around 2001, according to market intelligence firm IHS iSuppli. But will the release of Windows 8 this month be enough to provide a much-needed boost in the final stretch?

“There was great hope through the first half that 2012 would prove to be a rebound year for the PC market. Now three-quarters through the year, the usual boost from the back-to-school season appears to be a bust, and both AMD and Intel’s third-quarter outlooks appear to be flat to down,” said Craig Stice, senior principal analyst for computer systems at IHS.

“Optimism has vanished and turned to doubt, and the industry is now training its sights on 2013 to deliver the hoped-for rebound,” he added.

IHS iSuppli graph of PC sales

But is it too early to write off 2012, especially with the release of Windows 8 on the horizon?

Looking into a crystal ball

If the PC market needs a boost, the release of Microsoft’s new operating system could be just what the doctor ordered. However, it may not show signs of improvement until next year.

IHS iSuppli previously slashed its sales forecast for ultrabooks in 2012 by half and at the same time lowered its projections for 2013 from 61m to 44m.

Businesss intelligence provider GBI Research is optimistic about years to come, though. It predicts that ultrabooks will account for 47pc of all notebook sales by 2016, helped by a drop in average price from US$1,050 last year to US$510 by the close of 2016, the firm estimates.

GBI Research’s figures are certainly hopeful, expecting sales of 148.7m ultrabooks by 2016 (compare that to 1.3m ultrabooks sold last year). The firm also believes the US, currently the biggest market for ultrabooks, will fall to second place behind the Asia-Pacific region, with Europe, the Middle East and Africa taking up the rear.

Elaine Burke is the host of For Tech’s Sake, a co-production from Silicon Republic and The HeadStuff Podcast Network. She was previously the editor of Silicon Republic.