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IDC warns of PC market decline through 2018

IDC warns of PC market decline through 2018

The market for traditional laptops and desktops will continue to shrink right through to 2018, claims IDC - despite suggestions from rival Gartner that the slump could soon end.

Industry watcher IDC has warned that the market for traditional PCs is shrinking faster than ever, and predicts that its decline will continue through to 2018.

Despite claims from rival Gartner earlier this year that the PC market was due to bottom-out and return to recovery, IDC has a gloomy prediction which suggests growth is still a long way off. In its latest quarterly report, the company suggested that global PC shipments slipped by 9.8 per cent last year - the worst decline since it began tracking the market.

While that's better than the dismal 10.1 per cent slump IDC had previously predicted, it's indicative of a downward trend that the company suggests won't be coming to a close any time soon. IDC's projected shipment figures for 2014 claim worldwide sales of traditional PCs, both mobile and desktop, of 295.9 million, down from 315.1 million in 2013. The decline will then continue, IDC warns, through to 2018 when the global shipments will be as low as 291.7 million - still a significant figure, of course, but far from the growth a hopeful Gartner had predicted.

Much of the poor performance, IDC explains, comes from emerging markets. 'Emerging markets used to be a core driver of the PC market, as rising penetration among large populations boosted overall growth,' claimed Loren Loverde, IDC's vice president of worldwide PC trackers. 'At the moment, however, we're seeing emerging regions more affected by a weak economic environment as well as significant shifts in technology buying priorities. We do expect these regions to recover in the medium term and perform better than mature regions, but growth is expected to stabilise near zero per cent, rather than driving increasing volumes as we saw in the past.'

This echoes comments made by Gartner principal analyst Mikako Kitagawa back in January: 'In emerging markets, the first connected device for consumers is most likely a smartphone, and their first computing device is a tablet. As a result, the adoption of PCs in emerging markets will be slower as consumers skip PCs for tablets.'

With traditional PC sales still dropping, Intel's renewed focus on embedded and wearable systems becomes clear.

21 Comments

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CrapBag 5th March 2014, 10:58 Quote
I'm wondering if some of the decline is down to the fact that if people have bought a fairly decent pc in the last few years and only need it or basic duties then they are generally fast enough and feel no need at all to upgrade.

My mum is still using an am2 system with a 3800 X2 and my old 7600GT because it does what she needs it to do.

I really can't see tablets completely taking over, I mean who wants to sit and type out say a word document on an onscreen keyboard, sheesh it's bad enough just typing a forum response on one.
Panos 5th March 2014, 12:00 Quote
Does this report reflects parts sales or whole PC build? Because given the current economic conditions, not many can afford branded built PC from eg Dell.

And everyone who got a PC over the years, is just upgrading parts. Or sells it. For example me, I have sold my old PCs (which were made of parts) and usually every two years someone is buying it while I upgrade to a new one (from parts).
Corky42 5th March 2014, 13:27 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Panos
Does this report reflects parts sales or whole PC build? Because given the current economic conditions, not many can afford branded built PC from eg Dell.
AFAIK it only counts the top 5 or so main OEM's
People are free to call me biased, but personally i think a better reflection on the state of the desktop PC market is to look at the GPU market, such as the research done by JPR.
Quote:
Quarter-to-quarter up 1.6%—Desktop graphics sales up 3% second quarter in a row

Jon Peddie Research (JPR), the industry's research and consulting firm for graphics and multimedia, announced estimated graphics chip shipments and suppliers’ market share for 2013 4Q. The quarter was the second quarter in a row to show a gain in shipments, up 1.6% quarter-to-quarter, and up 2% compared to the same quarter last year.
Nexxo 5th March 2014, 14:21 Quote
Interesting. I suppose both can be true at the same time: PC sales as a whole are decreasing, but within that, sales of PCs with powerful graphics are on the increase. Given that this is the one area where PCs remain superior over tablets, that would make sense.
schmidtbag 5th March 2014, 14:34 Quote
PCs will never go away and I don't see any households removing every PC in their possession for a tablet or a wearable. But computers at this point are about as replaceable as cars - people will never stop buying them, but the average person will only buy a new one when they either feel the need for a change or when poor maintenance makes the machine break down.

I think if Intel didn't re-introduce hyper-threading, things would be very different right now. For one, AMD would be doing better (though, maybe not much better), and PC sales would be much higher. A dual core with HT is more than good enough for the average person, and a 4-year-old quad core with HT is still good enough for just about any workstation.

If PCs are to remain popular, software is going to need to be more demanding. The problem with that statement is I REALLY don't want to see companies do what MS, Adobe, or Activision do, where they severely bloat all of their code just simply "because our customers' computers can handle it".
SuiSid3l 5th March 2014, 14:54 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by CrapBag
I'm wondering if some of the decline is down to the fact that if people have bought a fairly decent pc in the last few years and only need it or basic duties then they are generally fast enough and feel no need at all to upgrade.

My mum is still using an am2 system with a 3800 X2 and my old 7600GT because it does what she needs it to do.

I really can't see tablets completely taking over, I mean who wants to sit and type out say a word document on an onscreen keyboard, sheesh it's bad enough just typing a forum response on one.

That is precisely why. Computers don't need to be updated nearly as often as they used to. Only power users or gamers will upgrade their rigs that consistently. Everyone freaking out about declining sales is just failing to realize that computers built in the last 2-3 years are more than capable of handling 75 percent of computer/internet users daily tasks without fault.

There is no need to continue to upgrade every year or two years.
Woodspoon 5th March 2014, 17:54 Quote
"Report warns of PC decline" Wow! never heard that before, well only maybe once, this year

Just waiting for "report warns of decline in reports of PC decline", somebody somewhere is bound to be writing one up.

These reports have been constantly churned out since the late 80's that I can remember.
Gareth Halfacree 5th March 2014, 19:06 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Woodspoon
These reports have been constantly churned out since the late 80's that I can remember.
Reports of market slumps in the late 80s? For microcomputers, perhaps, but the IBM-compatible market was going through a boom period: in the five years between 1985 and 1990 global PC shipments more than doubled. They did the same again in the five years between 1990 and 1995. And again 1995 to 2000. Sure, there was the odd year when things took a dive, but they invariably picked up again the next year. That's not what we're seeing, though: even Gartner, which is by far the most optimistic of the market watchers, is predicting a slowing decline rather than growth.

These reports aren't claiming the PC is going away, though. Sure, it's having its biggest percentage drop in recorded history - but even at this point of the slump we're still seeing an order of magnitude more PCs sold into the channel than we did in 1990. The PC itself isn't at risk - but the PC makers sure are. Sony didn't flog its entire PC business to Lenovo on a whim, y'know.
coyote 5th March 2014, 21:30 Quote
What's starting to really annoy me now is everyone and I mean everyone I know has dumped their PCs for tablets. Most of these are i pads now I'm getting a constant stream of people asking to use my desktop PC as the i pad won't do what they want. The last one was a cousin of my neighbour. He needed to download an application to join the Met police. Of course, his i pad wouldn't display them as the forms were in Microsoft word format. Then it's "can I use your printer?" I going to start charging for this service.
I think after a while they will be buying new desktop PCs as they realise I'm getting fed up with it and I'm not always in.
Nexxo 5th March 2014, 21:37 Quote
Tell them to buy a Surface. It doesn't have all the pretty apps, but it damn sure does what you need it to do.
rollo 5th March 2014, 21:42 Quote
Most older pcs are still way to fast for average user.

The 1% the gamers and enthusiasts are still buying but they are a tiny % of market. A lucritive % but still small.

The joe blogs in the street will buy something from a major manufacture when it breaks job that's just as cheap as what it replaced.
NIHILO 5th March 2014, 21:51 Quote
over the next 4 years? so at the peak of the new gen on consoles? makes sence.
jrs77 5th March 2014, 23:03 Quote
Nothing to argue there really imho.

A five year old PC is still up to the task of handling allmost all software you throw at it, especially the most used stuff like office-suites, webbrowsers, mediaplayers and the mainstream photo and video-editing software.

Moost of the stuff people are doing on a daily basis can be handled by the CPU of a smartphone or tablet, and if we would've the option of using a precision input device like a mouse on our tablets, then 90% of the people wouldn't need anything else than a tablet to begin with.

I'm waiting for the next-gen CPUs, as my current rig is only some 18 month old, but it'll be one without a dedicated GPU for sure, as I've stopped playing PC-games and I even don't miss playing PC-games anymore :p

There'll allways be some need for higher powered rigs with dedicated GPUs and stuff, but that's maybe some 20% of the whole market. The rest can do with an AMD Kabini.
LordPyrinc 6th March 2014, 00:45 Quote
I've switched cases, upgraded video cards, changed out the RAM, and will soon replace my primary hard drives with SSDs. But my 4 year old i7 920, mobo, and 850W PSU are still going strong. Barring any hardware failure, I don't see the need to replace those components anytime soon.
PaulC2K 6th March 2014, 02:07 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nexxo
Tell them to buy a Surface. It doesn't have all the pretty apps, but it damn sure does what you need it to do.
The Surface RT will do a few more things, ie the stuff Microsoft develops like Office, but the problem is the stuff that people buy tablets for, its seriously lacking. You own a fairly modern mobile and it offers more apps than the MS Store has, its a very annoying joke.
An example of this is the BF4 app, DICE (partially) built a PC game, and console versions, then made the app for IOS and Android, but not for RT, even with Microsoft throwing money at them microsoft didnt stipulate an RT app being added, possibly boosting adoption.

I bought a Surface Pro 2, and dont actually use the RT/Metro aspect often at all. But i bought it because i quite fancied having a tablet, essentially to do occasional browsing while sat in bed! I couldnt justify spending £300 on an iPad, and a handful of the things i'd want to be able to do needed that x86 processor. I didnt want a laptop, because i dont want a keyboard, however the ability to add a USB hub to add a KB+M has significant long term benefits due to uncertainty behind health issues and it gives me a mobile PC more than capable of running the software i'd require for years to come, and i can set it up to be fully functional both online and offline if i can get access.
Its just a shame that the pricing of the Surface Pro's and alternatives arent close to that of tablets. With proper adoption and developer support, the ability to do what a modern PC can, all while fulfilling the convenience of a tablet form, they could yet get to a point where tablets can still do the common jobs and the less common ones.

Im very happy with my purchase, and i can see future variants getting to the point where it works, its just not there yet, RT is too limited, Pro is too expensive, but i can see it happening.
wafflesomd 6th March 2014, 03:01 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by CrapBag
I'm wondering if some of the decline is down to the fact that if people have bought a fairly decent pc in the last few years and only need it or basic duties then they are generally fast enough and feel no need at all to upgrade.

My mum is still using an am2 system with a 3800 X2 and my old 7600GT because it does what she needs it to do.

I really can't see tablets completely taking over, I mean who wants to sit and type out say a word document on an onscreen keyboard, sheesh it's bad enough just typing a forum response on one.

I'm still on my q6600 that I got seven years ago. It's still awesomely fast and I haven't run into anything I can't run well.
Bede 6th March 2014, 08:23 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Panos
Does this report reflects parts sales or whole PC build? Because given the current economic conditions, not many can afford branded built PC from eg Dell.

And everyone who got a PC over the years, is just upgrading parts. Or sells it. For example me, I have sold my old PCs (which were made of parts) and usually every two years someone is buying it while I upgrade to a new one (from parts).

This is a stupid post. Very few people build their own PCs, only three of my friends have to this date. A £350 pc from dell is what most people still get.
Cthippo 6th March 2014, 08:40 Quote
I'm still running the dual Opteron Skt 940 system I built back in 2005. It's had a few upgrades, and possibly the odd downgrade, but it will likely last me for at least another half a decade. Right now, there is nothing I can see causing me to need a new system in that time.

One thing I have noticed is that it's getting somewhat harder to find desktop PCs for sale. A lot of computer stores have gone out of business, and big box stores like Walmart are carrying mostly laptops and all-in-one touchscreen based systems, but relatively few traditional desktops. The only place I've seen recently with more than one or two models of desktop on sale was Best Buy. Granted, this is hardly a scientific market survey, but they do seem to be getting harder to find.
Cthippo 6th March 2014, 08:40 Quote
Double post - Delete
TheDarkSide 6th March 2014, 18:25 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by schmidtbag


If PCs are to remain popular, software is going to need to be more demanding. The problem with that statement is I REALLY don't want to see companies do what MS, Adobe, or Activision do, where they severely bloat all of their code just simply "because our customers' computers can handle it".

Really? you think that's what MS and Adobe do? so you looked at their code and realized you could easily get the same result with a smaller footprint?
don't repeat everything you read on the net.
schmidtbag 6th March 2014, 18:35 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by TheDarkSide
Really? you think that's what MS and Adobe do? so you looked at their code and realized you could easily get the same result with a smaller footprint?
don't repeat everything you read on the net.

No, I don't *think* that's what they do, I *know* that's what they do. It IS possible to get a smaller footprint and there are alternatives to their products that are real proof of that. Adobe is a little bit harder to judge, since there isn't really anybody that competes with them in terms of features (I am aware Adobe has other direct competitors that are also very good).

But everything MS does is extremely bloated. As of right this minute, I'm writing a program that converts XLSX files into a separate programming language for databases. When saving something under Office 2010, the XML files are severely cluttered with unnecessary tags. If I re-save the file exact as-is under another program like Libreoffice or Gnumeric, the file size will shrink by several KB. That's a lot, when you consider it's COMPRESSED text and the spreadsheet is less than 1000 rows long.

In another perspective, I run KDE on one of my Linux setups at home. That currently does more than the average fresh install of Windows 7 and still uses a fraction of the memory and disk space. Keep in mind KDE is the most bloated desktop environment in Linux. It isn't just linux, Mac is proportionally efficient too.

What I don't get is how you think that what MS does CAN'T be done in a smaller footprint. Like I said, Adobe is a bit more difficult to judge.
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