IDC report: PC market is doomed for at least four more years

medium_240920814Things are only set to get worse in the declining PC market over the next few years, according to a new forecast from the research firm IDC.

The prediction comes from IDC’s latest Worldwide Quarterly PC Tracker report that was released on Tuesday. In it, IDC says that it’s lowered its PC shipment forecast for 2014 by two percent, while its longer-term estimate has been reduced by almost one percent. Now, IDC is expecting global PC shipments to decline to 295.9 million this year, from 315.1 million in 2013. By 2018, this figure will slide to just 291.7 million PCs shipped. IDC’s figured include all traditional PC form factors – laptops, desktops etc – but don’t account for iPads, Android tablets and Microsoft’s Surface tablet PCs.

Last December, IDC was slightly more positive in its outlook, saying it expected a 3.8 percent decline in PC shipments this year, and that things would be “slightly positive in the longer term”. Now of course, it’s changed its stance, which implies that something has changed the dynamics of the PC market?

So what’s changed? Well, the concern is that emerging markets haven’t performed as well as had been hoped. While these markets had performed as well as expected in Q4 of 2013, IDC says that “concerns about the impact of slower economic growth, the culmination of some large projects, and conservative expectations for factors like touch capability, migration off of Windows XP, as well as continued pressure from tablets and smartphones has further depressed expectations going forward.”

This will have a big impact, because IDC notes that “emerging markets used to be a core driver of the PC market”. The change in its forecast is significant, because previously IDC had the PC market would be just shy of growth this year, but now it’s saying that it’ll face yet another year of decline.

The important thing here is scale. While IDC’s forecast has only changed slightly, it’s previous optimism was mild at best – with these small changes, it’s clear that the PC market is seemingly incapable of halting its decline.

“Overall growth projections for 2014 were lowered by just over 2%, and subsequent years were lowered by less than 1%,” noted IDC.

Most worried about this news will be Microsoft, which relies heavily on PC sales for its Windows and Office cash cows. Unfortunately for Microsoft, it’s big bet on the radical redesign of Windows 8 has failed to nip this decline in the bud, as consumers continue to shun PCs in favor of tablets and smartphones running alternative operating systems.

In the corporate world, the last of the Windows XP PCs are finally being replaced with newer PCs. But that bit of corporate shopping hasn’t offset the general downward trend.

photo credit: coda via photopin cc