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Delay & Mobiles Are Eating 7.8% of PC Sales: IDC

This might turn out to be the year of the tablet

IDC has once again looked into its crystal ball and sees worldwide PC sales dropping by 7.8% this year as compared to last and figures next year they'll drop another 1.2% compared to this year, brutal news for the likes of PC and Dell.

The researcher, which previously said PCs would only be down 1.3% this year and a gradual increase next year, finds that consumers are increasingly considering either delaying buying a PC or using tablets and smartphones as substitutes.

By 2017, four and a half years out, it figures only 333 million PCs will ship worldwide compared to the 349 million that moved last year and the peak of more than 363 million in 2011.

The updated forecast reflects the nasty double-digit drop in volume experienced in Q1, it said, "as well as the transitions happening in PC design as vendors bring products to market that are optimized for Windows 8, including more thin, convertible, touch and slate models."

Usage patterns and devices are evolving, it says, with many users concluding that tasks like accessing the web, connecting to social media, sending e-mails and using some apps doesn't take a whole lot of computing power or local storage.

Instead they're looking for smaller devices with longer battery life, instant-on and an intuitive touch-centric interface.

By 2015 the tablet market could be bigger than the whole PC market and should be bigger than all laptop shipments this year.

IDC figures that tablet shipments will be up 59% to 229.3 million units this year. It also says that tablet prices are falling and the lower-priced widgets gaining traction. The global average selling for the things this year should drop 11% to $381, half of the average PC price.

Tablets with sub-eight-inch screens are beating out the ones with bigger screens. IDC estimates that 55% of the tablets that ship this year will have the smaller screens, up from 27% in 2011 and on the way to 57% in 2017.

IDC figures users haven't "necessarily given up on PCs as a platform for computing when a more robust environment is needed, but this takes a smaller share of computing time, and users are making do with older systems."

It expects to see some replacements happen in 2014, particularly in the commercial segment as support for Windows XP expires, but it also reckons the commercial market will focus on individual systems rather than large upgrade projects, especially since workers at many companies already have portable PCs with adequate configurations.

It estimates that falling prices or switching from a desktop to a portable PC are "contributing less to market growth than they did in the past."

It also estimates that "the BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) phenomenon has moved from smartphones to tablets and PCs with nearly 25% of employees in organizations larger than 10 people claiming to have purchased the primary PC they use for work. This means that some of the corporate PC purchases we expected this year will no longer happen."

PC Shipments by Region and Form Factor, 2012-2017 (Shipments in millions)



Form Factor




Emerging Markets

Desktop PC




Emerging Markets

Portable PC




Emerging Markets

Total PC









Mature Markets

Desktop PC




Mature Markets

Portable PC




Mature Markets

Total PC










Desktop PC





Portable PC





Total PC




Source: IDC Worldwide Quarter PC Tracker, May 2013

* Forecast data


More Stories By Maureen O'Gara

Maureen O'Gara the most read technology reporter for the past 20 years, is the Cloud Computing and Virtualization News Desk editor of SYS-CON Media. She is the publisher of famous "Billygrams" and the editor-in-chief of "Client/Server News" for more than a decade. One of the most respected technology reporters in the business, Maureen can be reached by email at maureen(at)sys-con.com or paperboy(at)g2news.com, and by phone at 516 759-7025. Twitter: @MaureenOGara

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