Despite intense industry efforts to overcome market inertia, 2012 nonetheless ended on a sour note with global PC shipment volume shrinking 3.7% on the year. With limited initial traction from Windows 8 in the holiday season, and continued pressure from tablets, IDC now expects 2013 PC shipments to decline by 1.3% in 2013, according to the IDC Worldwide Quarterly PC Tracker.
Disappointing holiday sales, an underwhelming reception to Windows 8, and continuing economic malaise that further crimped IT budgets marked the face of the market during the second half of 2012, leading to a year-on-year decline of 8.3% in fourth quarter shipments, the most substantial decline recorded for a holiday quarter.
Furthermore, emerging market growth potential is declining and coming closer to that of mature regions. 2012 marked the first year that emerging markets have seen a volume decline, and while 2013 will return to growth, it is projected at less than 1% and with modest, single-digit growth through 2017. For mature regions, 2013 will mark the third consecutive year of volume declines. IDC continues to expect limited growth in 2014 and 2015 with contracting volume in later years.
Although the PC industry had banked on Windows 8 and a more varied and less expensive offering of ultrathin notebooks to revive demand, efforts thus far have been disappointing. A lack of touchscreen components has contributed to a limited supply of touch-enabled Windows 8 models – being out of step with the touch focus of Windows 8, and appearing relatively expensive compared to other options.
"The PC market is still looking for updated models to gain traction and demonstrate sufficient appeal to drive growth in a very competitive market," said Loren Loverde, Program Vice President, Worldwide PC Trackers at IDC. "Growth in emerging regions has slowed considerably, and we continue to see constrained PC demand as buyers favor other devices for their mobility and convenience features. We still don't see tablets (with limited local storage, file system, lesser focus on traditional productivity, etc.) as functional competitors to PCs – but they are winning consumer dollars with mobility and consumer appeal nevertheless."
"The U.S. PC market struggled in 2012, culminating with a 6.5% year-on-year decrease in the fourth quarter and -7.6% growth for the full year. Market saturation, a tough economic environment and weakness across the board, and lack of momentum for Windows 8, which led to 2012 contraction, are expected to persist at least during the first half of 2013," said Rajani Singh, Research Analyst at IDC. "IDC expects the second half of 2013 to regain some marginal momentum partly as a rubber band effect from 2012, and largely thanks to the outcome of industry restructuring, better channel involvement, and potentially greater acceptance of Windows 8. We also anticipate a new refresh cycle momentum in the commercial segment driven by the end of Window XP life support."