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PC shipments shrink despite Windows 8 launch

PC shipments shrink despite Windows 8 launch

IDC's report shows Lenovo making surprising gains in a market that shrank 6.4 per cent year-on-year.

Hopes that the launch of Microsoft's Windows 8 operating system would revive the flagging PC market have been dashed, with the release of a report from industry watcher IDC pointing to a worrying 6.4 per cent decline in sales year-on-year.

According to IDC's Worldwide Quarterly PC Tracker report, sales of desktop and laptop computers dropped 6.4 per cent in the last quarter of 2012 compared to the year before - the first time in over five years that the market hasn't grown during the lucrative Christmas sales period. While a slip was predicted, the reality is worse than expected with original estimates pointing the drop in sales closer to 4.4 per cent.

The news is a serious blow to the PC industry: the Christmas period is traditionally the most lucrative of the year, and poor sales earlier in 2012 had been blamed on consumers waiting for the release of Windows 8. With that next-generation operating system becoming available in October, the hoped-for explosion of interest in buying new computers hasn't materialised.

'Although the third quarter was focused on the clearing of Windows 7 inventory, preliminary research indicates the clearance did not significantly boost the uptake of Windows 8 systems in Q4,' claimed Jay Chou, senior research analyst at IDC. 'Lost in the shuffle to promote a touch-centric PC, vendors have not forcefully stressed other features that promote a more secure, reliable and efficient user experience. As Windows 8 matures, and other corresponding variables such as Ultrabook pricing continue to drop, hopefully the PC market can see a reset in both messaging and demand in 2013.'

The US market was a particularly poor performer in Q4 2012, while the Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) market performed significantly better with a single-percentage point drop over Q4 2011. The Asia-Pacific region was again below expectations, but Japan surprised everyone with sales that were a slight growth year-on-year - but not enough to calm market worries.

Breaking the preliminary results down by vendor, there are a few interesting points: demand for systems from Dell and Acer fell 20.8 per cent and 28.2 per cent year-on-year, while Asus enjoyed a 5.6 per cent increase in shipments. By far the biggest winner, however, was Lenovo, which saw shipments for Q4 2012 increase 8.2 per cent compared to the same quarter last year - a record high of 14 million units.

But why the massive difference between companies? 'Consumers expected all sorts of cool PCs with tablet and touch capabilities. Instead, they mostly saw traditional PCs that feature a new OS [Windows 8] optimised for touch and tablet with applications and hardware that are not yet able to fully utilise these capabilities,' opined IDC's research director David Daoud of his team's report. 'Despite a generally weak performance, some leading brands managed do to well relative to the market. HP, Lenovo, Asus, and Samsung were among the top performers, taking advantage of some consumer interest in Windows 8 and a push to build up their presence ahead of 2013.'

With figures like these, however, it's clear that the market as a whole is going to have to figure out what to do in order to convince the public to splash out on new computers - and it's going to have to do so fast in order to keep investors on-side.

34 Comments

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steveo_mcg 11th January 2013, 11:56 Quote
Not sure who was expecting W8 to be great saviour...
rollo 11th January 2013, 11:58 Quote
PC desktop market is dieing, Time to move on and write another record. People have no reason to upgrade (an old core 2 duo is more than enough for most of the population) and tablet sales are taking away from those that might be even considering it.
dolphie 11th January 2013, 12:13 Quote
I upgraded about 4 years ago and haven't felt the need to buy much since then. The software I use isn't that demanding, it used to be games that kept me upgrading but those mostly bore me nowadays and the few that I play are either old, or designed to work on ancient consoles. I remember a time when I used to upgrade my PC to something 'decent', and it would only keep me happy for about 8 months and then I used to start getting games that crippled it. I would struggle on but a year or two later and I used to get fed up of running everything on lowest settings and I would upgrade. But it doesn't work like that anymore.
bowman 11th January 2013, 12:14 Quote
'Despite'?

I'd rather say 'contributing cause'.

Who would want to buy a new computer and have to erase that garbage first thing?
Mombasa69 11th January 2013, 12:37 Quote
It's an expensive thing to pay out for, in these times of austerity there just isn't enough to spare, and the credit boom ended years ago, people are too busy paying back old debts.

In a few years things will improve, it's just a cycle.
blacko 11th January 2013, 12:47 Quote
Gone are the days when the PC used to be the lead development platform. Hopefully the next gen consoles will give the next big push in the PC market....


too controversial?
Griffter 11th January 2013, 12:50 Quote
bring out retro typewriters...
do_it_anyway 11th January 2013, 13:13 Quote
It's sadly not a cycle. Its evolution.
Go and try to buy a hi-fi system in the main stores and you will struggle. Everything is stand alone like the Bose docking stations or Sonos wireless system.
To an audiophile this is disgraceful. They will still go and buy seperates from a specialist shop.
But for Joe Public, its fine.

PC's are going the same way, There will still be a market for us, the enthusiast, but Joe Public is moving towards Tablets, smartphones, etc.

I don't believe the PC will die. I do believe it will become harder to get stuff, and the prices may rise to reflect the lack of buyer power.
And I don't believe it will have much effect on the gaming industry. After all, 90% (made up figure) of all PC's sold were hopeless at gaming on any way.
Corky42 11th January 2013, 13:26 Quote
The new XBOX will probably end up driving PC sales more than Windows 8, PC's have been held back due to publishers wanting to publish on console and PC (lowest common denominator).
I cant think of many PC exclusive games in recent years.
lacuna 11th January 2013, 13:27 Quote
I used to my laptop everyday but since buying my ipad I have used it twice (briefly) in the past year.
r3loaded 11th January 2013, 13:37 Quote
Easy, it's because of these reasons:
  • People already have a PC. It's old but it serves their purpose fine.
  • Economic issues - people don't have as much money to drop on a new computer
  • Following on from the above point - iPads, especially the iPad Mini. It's cool, well-built and only costs 269 but does everything they need it to do.
impar 11th January 2013, 13:41 Quote
Greetings!
Quote:
Originally Posted by bowman
'Despite'?
I'd rather say 'contributing cause'.
Who would want to buy a new computer and have to erase that garbage first thing?
Come on, dont be like that. Windows 8 is actually good once you remove the Metro-stuff. :)
Nexxo 11th January 2013, 13:54 Quote
Anyone who thinks that Windows has any influence over the sale of computers probably also thinks that car tyres dictate the sale of cars.

As if people are motivated to splash out several hundred bucks on a device just because they like the look of its OS, or would refrain from doing so because they don't. People buy computers because they need a computer. Then they learn how to use it. Generally they don't want to learn, so if they don't buy a computer it's because they found a device that serves their needs without having to. Tablets and mobiles tend to be such devices.

And as r3loaded says: there is a recession going on (don'cha know) and computers have been so powerful since the last five years that there is little reason to upgrade unless you are a hardcore geek.
Woodspoon 11th January 2013, 14:09 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by bowman
'Despite'?

I'd rather say 'contributing cause'.

Who would want to buy a new computer and have to erase that garbage first thing?

Spot on
I know a couple of people that brought new PC's but spent extra time looking for a W7 because they didn't want W8 on it.
Shirty 11th January 2013, 14:17 Quote
Name me a single office anywhere in the developed (and most of the developing) world that isn't filled with computers.

That's a lot of offices.

How many households still use a PC on a regular basis?

Most of them.

Sales are slowing down because those who currently have a system which does everyhting they need it to have no need to buy another. There has been a huge boom over the past ten years and now the market is saturated with hundreds of millions of perfectly capable desktops, which only get replaced when they die.

Sales have dropped, yes, but they'll stabilise.
damien c 11th January 2013, 15:32 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mombasa69
It's an expensive thing to pay out for, in these times of austerity there just isn't enough to spare, and the credit boom ended years ago, people are too busy paying back old debts.

In a few years things will improve, it's just a cycle.

Spot on comment.

I know people who won't buy a new pc or laptop because they would rather pay off there debts than spend money on a pc or laptop that whilst they do need it they just cannot justify it.
Xir 11th January 2013, 15:56 Quote
I thought the bulk of pc-sales were companies.
Win8 isn't going to help that market....it's not really a OS for production.
Dell sales going down would reflect.this.
Tablets,nice as they are for the consumer, are also not used in office environments.
thelaw 11th January 2013, 18:45 Quote
Given most people use there PC's for facebook and 'porn' there is little need to keep buying new pcs as the last generation of chips like the i3, i5 and i7s are more than capable of managing the every day users need, its only gamers who require upgrades now.
Gareth Halfacree 11th January 2013, 18:48 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nexxo
Anyone who thinks that Windows has any influence over the sale of computers probably also thinks that car tyres dictate the sale of cars. .
That analogy would apply, if every time a new tyre came out all the car manufacturers adopted it and spent millions advertising how much better it was than the old tyre - which is what happens when Windows comes out: manufacturers launch all-new advertising campaigns espousing the benefits of their new machines with Windows 8. I have no figures in front of me, but I'm willing to bet the increased advertising leads to increased sales - as increased advertising nearly always does.

I might get in touch with IDC, see if they'd be willing to share historical data points - without making me pay thousands for the privilege. It'd be interesting to see if PC sales, mapped against time, do spike when a new Windows copy is released or, as you predict, stay flat barring regular variations like the Christmas sales period...
Nexxo 11th January 2013, 18:53 Quote
Sticking with the analogy, if some manufacturer manages to convince me that their newfangled tyres are better than the tyres currently on my car, I don't buy a new car; I upgrade its tyres. ;)
Gareth Halfacree 11th January 2013, 19:01 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nexxo
Sticking with the analogy, if some manufacturer manages to convince me that their newfangled tyres are better than the tyres currently on my car, I don't buy a new car; I upgrade its tyres. ;)
But if you don't know how to change the tyres, you can take your car to a garage and have it done; while there are places that will upgrade your system to Windows 8 for you, they're far less well known than Kwik-Fit and the like. PC World is likely the only one anybody's heard of these days, and I don't know that they still offer the service - I certainly haven't seen any adverts for it recently.

Add in to that the previously-mentioned power of advertising - where the features of the OS and the features of the PC (sorry, "car" and "tyres") are deliberately conflated - and I'm still predicting that a percentage of the uneducated masses will buy a new PC 'cos the telly said it was better. This figure, naturally, decreases in a recession-like scenario - which could well account for the 6.4 per cent drop this quarter.

Tell you what: let's have a little bet. If I can get some figures out of IDC (or A. N. Other market watcher, or a friendly PC manufacturer if all else fails) and they fail to show a spike in sales each time a new version of Windows is released, you win and I'll donate £20 to a charity of your choice; if a spike is present at the relevant points, I win and you'll donate £20 to a charity of my choice. Deal?
Speed 11th January 2013, 19:09 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by bowman
'Despite'?

I'd rather say 'contributing cause'.

Who would want to buy a new computer and have to erase that garbage first thing?

Oh do give it a rest. Windows 8 is Windows 7 with some tweaks and a fresh coat of paint. There are plenty of paint stripping applications out there! ;)

Quote:
Originally Posted by do_it_anyway
It's sadly not a cycle. Its evolution.
Go and try to buy a hi-fi system in the main stores and you will struggle. Everything is stand alone like the Bose docking stations or Sonos wireless system.
To an audiophile this is disgraceful. They will still go and buy seperates from a specialist shop.
But for Joe Public, its fine.

PC's are going the same way, There will still be a market for us, the enthusiast, but Joe Public is moving towards Tablets, smartphones, etc.

I don't believe the PC will die. I do believe it will become harder to get stuff, and the prices may rise to reflect the lack of buyer power.
And I don't believe it will have much effect on the gaming industry. After all, 90% (made up figure) of all PC's sold were hopeless at gaming on any way.

Exactly. If you look at some of the Asian countries, for many the primary way they are accessing the internet is via smart phones. Many don't even bother with a computer, that is the way it is heading. The market is shifting as a result of that change, the PC isn't going to disappear obviously but you can't expect the same sort of sales.
Nexxo 11th January 2013, 19:21 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gareth Halfacree
But if you don't know how to change the tyres, you can take your car to a garage and have it done; while there are places that will upgrade your system to Windows 8 for you, they're far less well known than Kwik-Fit and the like. PC World is likely the only one anybody's heard of these days, and I don't know that they still offer the service - I certainly haven't seen any adverts for it recently.

Add in to that the previously-mentioned power of advertising - where the features of the OS and the features of the PC (sorry, "car" and "tyres") are deliberately conflated - and I'm still predicting that a percentage of the uneducated masses will buy a new PC 'cos the telly said it was better. This figure, naturally, decreases in a recession-like scenario - which could well account for the 6.4 per cent drop this quarter.

Tell you what: let's have a little bet. If I can get some figures out of IDC (or A. N. Other market watcher, or a friendly PC manufacturer if all else fails) and they fail to show a spike in sales each time a new version of Windows is released, you win and I'll donate £20 to a charity of your choice; if a spike is present at the relevant points, I win and you'll donate £20 to a charity of my choice. Deal?

My mom told me never to bet for money with strangers. But spikes alone say nothing:

http://www.asymco.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/Screen-Shot-2012-12-13-at-12-13-3.47.14-PM.png

See PC's sold around the release of Windows 7 (Oct. 2009): an obvious spike, but preceded by a sharp drop. People who were going to buy a PC held off for the release of Windows 7 and then struck (much like people hold off buying a car until the new licence plate comes out). But the overall sale of PCs over time remains constant.

A similar drop followed by peak can be seen in 2001 (release of XP):

http://ars.els-cdn.com/content/image/1-s2.0-S0040162509000390-gr1.jpg

Conclusion: a new release in Windows only influences when people buy a new PC, but not whether they do.

And in a recession, it drops. If people used to buy a new PC every 4 years, and now they buy one every 5 years, that's a 20% drop in sales. It's that sharp a change.
V3ctor 12th January 2013, 14:17 Quote
Software doesn't push for the HW anymore... Hell, my HD5870 can still play at 1920x1200 with high setting in some games...

PC has stagnated... just that
NikoBellic 12th January 2013, 18:46 Quote
when the PC market was the only space that we saw any hardware/software innovations that was what got people talking and wanting to upgrade, but now the smartphone/tablet market is see'ing innovations at a much more rapid pace, that is what everyone is talking about and that is what is making them upgrade their phones/tabs, but not their desktop/laptop computers... you only have to look at the slow pace of improvements from AMD/Intel to see what I mean with the slow desktop/laptop innovation. now that we have Nvidia, Qualcomm & Samsung competing in the ARM CPU space and delivering new CPUs/SoC's every other week, that is more interesting.
mucgoo 12th January 2013, 19:41 Quote
@nexxo/niko

"poor sales earlier in 2012 had been blamed on consumers waiting for the release of Windows 8. With that next-generation operating system becoming available in October, the hoped-for explosion of interest in buying new computers hasn't materialised."
The claim isn't that a new windows causes a large surge in demand on a year by year basis merely quarter by quarter. The hardware companies will have been expecting to report poor Q1-3 result due to the pre-window release lull and will of been telling there investor to just wait for the windows 8 peak hoping a strong Q4 would make up for it and result in stagnant rather than declining year end figures.
OWNED66 13th January 2013, 07:59 Quote
PC shipments fell BECAUSE OF WINDOWS 8 !!!
ArcAngeL 13th January 2013, 08:15 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by thelaw
Given most people use there PC's for facebook and 'porn' there is little need to keep buying new pcs as the last generation of chips like the i3, i5 and i7s are more than capable of managing the every day users need, its only gamers who require upgrades now.

I totally agree with you here, the reason why PC sales are down is cause consumer market really didn't want a PC to begin with, or simply don't need to purchase a new one (consumer fatigue).

Necessity drives demand, and now its simply not necessary to buy a computer as regularly, or at all, e.g. my parents laptop is 5 years old now, and it still does all the basic tasks they needed it for, so why would they buy another one? (except when it dies).

When it does die, a tablet would suit them more, for its portability factor, and locked down babysitter style OS. I'd probably get them the Acer W510, cause they don't need anything above an dual core atom processor. (although I need to test its peformance to be sure).

Tablets suit the non PC literate consumer more, and lets face it, that's 90% of the population. Tablets provide them with only the features that they need (browser and email) and brain dead useless apps that provide no benefit other than entertaining their low IQ.

Tablets also make porn more accessible, being ultra portable It can be taken out to the shed, or into the toilet, for some more personal time, where privacy in some house hold is lacking, and that's what the consumer wanted (plus glass is easier to clean than keyboards).

With the lack of internet in the 80's, pc's were either for programing, word processing or gaming, the industry didn't really have a great consumer market or need for it in their life. Computer sales sore, when the internet became popular which happened around windows 95 to 98, from which it plateaued around the beginning of Windows 7, and the quad core processor, capable of managing all the tasks the simple consumer would need the PC for of which can also be achieved as easily on a tablet.

The gaming industry still remains strong for the PC, due to the advancements of GPU processing, and because the mouse and keyboard is still hands down the best gaming input device around.

In general though gaming hardware increases haven't grown much in recent, as the game graphics are starting to hit a threshold, where its not very beneficial to invest additional time creating further ground breaking graphics beyond games of the likes of Crisis 3 and BF3, so I could expect the PC gaming industry to plateau in this area in a few more years.

Until a more advanced gaming input device becomes available on console, gaming pc's will still be highly sort after, but with the tablet evolution, there will be less household computers, which could reduce PC gaming popularity / affordability for parents to buy a PC for their kids.

If the xbox 720 is created with a complete mouse and keyboard functionality then it really will be dark times ahead for the "PC". However it will simply just be a form of digital evolution where new breeds of the PC will have evolved: Tablet, Console, Desktop, Phone. all of which competing to kill each other off in the ecosystem, until they all have fully evolved, where they too reach a point where there wont be consume demand to replace it unless it dies.
MjFrosty 13th January 2013, 09:04 Quote
Remind me never to buy a tablet from you. Or at least put a clear photo of it under UV light in the for sale thread.
Nexxo 13th January 2013, 13:23 Quote
Another selling point for the Surface's kickstand: it leaves both of your hands free to... well... never mind.

But seriously: compare it to the history of power tools. They started out as an electrical motor on a work bench in the garage. You attached different appendages dependent on what you needed to do. Then you got smaller, dedicated tools with their own power cord. Then you got smaller, rechargeable cordless tools. Same with cookers: first there was a central stove: it boiled your water, heated your house and cooked your food. Now you have microwaves, electric water kettles, and hobs. You even have self-heating cans.

Computers are going the same way: from a big all-purpose device on a desk to multiple dedicated cordless mobile gadgets that do a few specific things conveniently and easily. Computers are becoming smaller and embedded. Soon we don't need a PC, because our TV is a PC, and so is our media Centre/game console, and our tablet/laptop, and our phone/tablet. Windows 8 is gearing up to that future. It is already there, waiting for the technology to catch up.
AmEv 14th January 2013, 05:32 Quote
Men -.^
Adnoctum 14th January 2013, 11:48 Quote
Wow. This conversation on an IDC report took an unusual turn for the gritty.

Haven't we all been on the Internet long enough for the market for pornographic content to become saturated? It was a sad, sad day for me when I went to a LAN party and the shared porn folder on the network held no allure. Had I *gulp* grown up at last? Shirley not?

I sat back and ruminated while engaging in bloody violence. Had I grown past pornography, or had I been completely desensitised by decades of violence and sexual content? After blowing the head off a passing CGI object, I realised that it wasn't that I had grown past pornography, it was that pornography hadn't grown up with me. Once you've seen one video (or a hundred) of a generic bleached blonde with a plasticised body, inflated "enhancements" and disturbingly generic tattoos, then you don't really need to ever view another.

Plus, if I'm no longer satisfied with Doom levels of story development in my gaming, I'm not going to be happy with "my girlfriend's out of town and her friend is looking sexy" standards of pornography narrative and character development followed by some listless and uninspired sweaty activity and the least convincing "Oh"s that have ever been recorded.

It really is a sad indictment on the state of modern pornography that formulaic and obligated sexual relations with a long term, monogamous partner is MORE erotic than professional erotica. Where is the inspiration? Where is the escapism?

Or is it just me? And what were we discussing again?
Yslen 15th January 2013, 14:13 Quote
All these sales figures prove is that a lot of people used to buy desktops and laptops then use 5% of their overall capabilities. Essentially, content consumption has shifted to tablets and phones. Content creation remains on desktops and laptops, for obvious reasons, but there are far fewer creators than there are consumers.

Windows 8 was never going to reverse the trend, I don't think any operating system could. Microsoft was fully aware of this and made a touch-friendly OS. Now they just need a slap around the head so that they realise 1.) RT is pointless and should be scrapped and 2.) x86 Windows 8 at the same price point / hardware spec would be awesome.
djzic 16th January 2013, 23:13 Quote
No, desktops are not dying. It is laptops that are becoming less and less appealing. Personally I've never seen the appeal of a laptop. I'd rather wait to get to my desk then uncomfortably struggle on, and remain mobile. Phones and tablets, or laptop tablet hybrids are replacing laptops. Desktops will still have their place - when high power is needed, a desktop is unrivaled without spending ridiculous money. Of course there is clustering, but it's not exactly mainstream and easily manageable, or compatible with typical Desktop apps which aren't scalable; they struggle to use all the CPU's cores, yet alone another CPU...
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