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Global PC shipments declining rapidly, report claims

International Data Corporation (IDC) reports that worldwide shipments of PC hardware have suffered the steepest quarterly decline since the research and consultancy firm began tracking the market in 1994.

IDC claims global PC shipments totalled 76.3 million units in the first quarter of 2013, down 13.9 per cent compared to the same quarter in 2012. The figure far exceeded IDC’s prior estimate of a 7.7 per cent fall, and the results marked the fourth consecutive quarter of year-on-year shipment declines.

IDC PC research director David Daoud labelled “the magnitude of the contraction both surprising and worrisome”, adding: "The industry is going through a critical crossroads, and strategic choices will have to be made as to how to compete with the proliferation of alternative devices and remain relevant to the consumer.”

Bob O'Donnell, IDC Program vice president of clients and displays, also cited sluggish uptake of Windows 8 as a contributor to the decline, noting: “At this point, unfortunately, it seems clear that the Windows 8 launch not only failed to provide a positive boost to the PC market, but appears to have slowed the market. While some consumers appreciate the new form factors and touch capabilities of Windows 8, the radical changes to the UI, removal of the familiar Start button, and the costs associated with touch have made PCs a less attractive alternative to dedicated tablets and other competitive devices. Microsoft will have to make some very tough decisions moving forward if it wants to help reinvigorate the PC market."

The report named HP as the leading PC hardware vendor with a 15.7 per cent market share in the first quarter of 2013, just ahead of Lenovo’s 15.3 per cent. Dell, Acer Group and ASUS rounded off the list of the five vendors.

9 comments

  • FoxdenRacing - April 12, 2013 9:28 a.m.

    This isn't surprising, nor is it anything to be afraid of. The PC is returning to being an enthusiast market. Read that sentence again, then rest easy. PCs as a platform are facing two challenges right now, but neither will 'kill' it, as so many analysts are predicting. One massive nebulous market is splitting into two distinct, smaller ones. First is that there is no killer 'everyman' app that needs more power, so the turnover cycle is slowing down. First it was web browsers, then it was MP3 players, then DivX/DVD players, then tabbed browsing and heavy multitasking. Blu-ray could have been another, but for the headaches involved most people will buy a set-top box. For the everyman that checks their e-mail, farts around on facebook, and hasn't moved on from instant messengers, hardware from 7 years ago is still good enough for them. The decline in PC sales can partially be explained by turnover going from 'we need more power' to 'Well, it's bricked. Time for a new one' as its main motivator. Second is that there are millions of people that never needed a PC in the first place, but said PC was the only device that could do what they were trying to do. This is where the supposed 'threat' from mobile and tablets is coming from. People that never needed a PC in the first place, only a light-usage browsing/messaging device, are leaving the PC behind now that there's a more inexpensive, more convenient, and less complicated alternative. These people are moving to tablets and mobile in droves. It does everything they need, without having tons of leftover capability or complexity they didn't, in a conveniently-sized package. No worrying about viruses [yet], no complicated error messages or convoluted UIs, just a little iThingy they can pick up, do what they wanted to do, and put back down again. PCs will live on, as there are some things that can't be done on a tablet. A fingertip will never have the precision of a mouse, so until 'tablets' become hybrids between iThingy and Wacom, graphic design work will be done on PCs. Computation-intensive work, such as 3D rendering and compilation, will always be better suited to PC. High-end gaming isn't going anywhere; the compromises needed for a low-temperature, battery-friendly, compact device come at the expense of raw horsepower and modularity. Personally, I'm happy to see this. It means no more middle-of-the-night calls from family panicking that 'the blue thingy next to the clock is blinking'. It means we're now free to focus less on idiot-proofing everything and get back to efficient, unobtrusive interfaces. It means we can go back to interfaces that trust the user, rather than having to ask if we're super-extra double secret special sure we want to do that, and hide critical bits from us 'from our own good'.
  • avantguardian - April 11, 2013 11:14 p.m.

    from a strict gaming perspective, this makes sense to me. the lull between generations, and lack of an abundance of exclusive aaa pc games will definitely slow things down. i remember this happening at the beginning of the current generation, and that soon after, people were claiming that pc gaming was as good as dead... i just bought a new pc a couple of months ago, in anticipation of the new gen. since it typically takes new consoles a bit to find their footing, it seems like the best time to get a nice, relatively future-proof rig. i've been using the downtime before the deluge of new, 'next-gen' games to catch up on the ones i might have missed this gen (shogun 2, civ 5, etc). anyways, i'll be waiting to see how things look this time next year before i worry out about the soundness of my investment.
  • avantguardian - April 11, 2013 11:14 p.m.

    and yeah, fucking tablets man...
  • winner2 - April 11, 2013 6:35 p.m.

    Well this sucks
  • Rub3z - April 11, 2013 4:52 p.m.

    Oh noes!!!
  • J-Fid - April 11, 2013 4:01 p.m.

    How funny, my Engineering teacher was just telling me this earlier today in class.
  • CUFCfan616 - April 11, 2013 3:32 p.m.

    might be because older hardware is more capable of holding up for gaming and more than enough for everyday tasks. A core2duo can still hold up in games and you don't see massive improvements from increasing RAM anymore. About the only thing worth upgrading is your harddrive to a SSD and that's no reason to buy a new PC. Graphics cards have stagnated although they may pick up progress again once the next gen consoles are out and games become more demanding on systems. Atm though, with mroe and more cross-platform games and those games running on consoles using hardware 8-9 years old, there's been no need to buy a new system unless your computer dies on you. Plus no-one wants Windows 8
  • imagremlin - April 11, 2013 8:53 p.m.

    I can only chuckle when gamers think their hobby is so important, that the industry that powers every secretary, accountant, analyst, manager and what have you is stagnant because " older hardware is more capable of holding up for gaming"
  • CUFCfan616 - April 11, 2013 9:33 p.m.

    when pc gaming is largely what drives hardware advancements, yes, fewer advancements in hardware will mean lower sales in terms of upgrades for companies as the benefits aren't there. I tried to keep it focused on gaming as this is a gaming website, but for the majority of officework, a pc 5 years old is still more than capable of day to day tasks, therefore less sales. of course there are other factors such as tablets becoming more and more popular, but hardware has stagnated a bit recently

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