PC Sales Plunge In Worst Single Quarter Ever [Report]

Your time, dear traditional notebook, is limited.

Your time, dear traditional notebook, is limited.

PC shipments plummeted 13.9 percent during the first quarter of 2013 as compared to the same period of time last year, even more than the expected decline of around 7.7 percent. The International Data Corporation released its Worldwide Quarterly PC Tracker data today, and reports that these numbers are the worst quarter ever, since the IDC began tracking the PC market in 1994. This also makes it the fourth quarter in a row of year-over-year declines in PC shipments.

The IDC attributes this downward spiral to fading mini notebook sales along with the prevalence tablets and smartphones across the global market. While the industry has tried to offer touch screens and ultra slim PC systems (themselves held back by price and supply barriers), even Windows 8 hasn’t been enough to offset the sharpest decline in PC sales that the market has ever seen.

“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,” said Bob O’Donnell, IDC Program Vice President, Clients and Displays. “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.”

That’s not to say that Macs are selling more than other PCs, either. The IDC reports that while Apple has fared better than other vendors like HP, Dell, and Acer, the Cupertino-based company is itself seeing shrinking shipments of desktop and laptop products, and notes that the iPad may be cannibalizing those sales, as well. Rival research group, Gartner, however, shows a 7 percent growth for Mac computers in the first quarter of 2013, so it may not be as bad for Apple as it seems (Thanks, Neil!)

Lenovo saw a better than expected zero percent growth due to its own strategy on selling PCs, but no growth is exactly that.

The strongest declines can be seen across the US, Europe, and Asia, with only Japan shipping units as expected, as some economic growth helped bolster the weak demand.

It seems fairly obvious that we are in what Steve Jobs called a “post-PC world,” and the numbers are backing that up. As Apple currently has the best smartphone and tablet computing devices, they seem to be more set to weather this transition, and in fact may be the ones leading it. Google may be next in line, then, to inherit the post-PC market as traditional PC venders flounder, looking to convince consumers that PCs are worth purchasing in the same numbers as before.

  • davester13

    The most important thing to remember about this is that all these numbers being bandied about are GUESSES. These are not hard numbers, but guesses, statistics, estimates, guesstimates, WAGs, which is stated in the fine print, but ignored by all these ‘summaries of the summary’.

  • Tsepz

    “As Apple currently has the best smartphone and tablet computing devices” lol, oh please, I mean I enjoy using my iPad4 and all but Apple certainly do not make the best smartphone or tablets, best selling, yes, but not the best in functionality.

  • lwdesign1

    This information is isolated from an examination of general world market conditions, which are also down. To assume that computers are selling in reduced volumes because of tablets and phones is sheer speculation. Economic conditions have impacted individuals and businesses such that many are making their existing computers last longer before upgrading to newer models. When budgets are tight, the purse strings get tighter — very simple. With smaller budgets, iPads and Android tablets become more attractive at their smaller price points, however, to state that desktop and laptop computers are on their way out is ridiculous and only based on SALES not usage. What would be revealing is a large survey of people to determine if they 1) still own and use a desktop or laptop, and 2) have replaced their desktops and laptops with a tablet, and 3) has business usage of desktop and laptop computers declined? This information, properly gathered, would show whether desktops and laptops are on their way out.

    As a graphic designer, I do not foresee a future where I would give up my huge 30″ monitor to design web sites and printed materials on a 10-inch tablet. I might opt for holographic projections instead of a monitor screen, but that technology may take a while to be developed and catch on.

  • extra_medium

    I’d just like to know what criteria everyone is using to justify not including tablets and some smart phones in the “PC” category at this point. I can connect a keyboard, external monitor, hell even a mouse after jailbreak, if that is the only difference these analysts are using to differentiate the two on their reports. Do they just mean computers running windows or OSX when they say “PC?”. A minimum number of ports? It even cost more than most desktops and notebooks I see advertised lately. I do basically all of my personal computing on this thing, how is it not a PC?

About the author

Rob LeFebvreAnchorage, Alaska-based freelance writer and editor Rob LeFebvre is Cult of Mac's Culture Editor. He has contributed to various tech, gaming and iOS sites, including 148Apps, VentureBeat, and Paste Magazine. Feel free to find Rob on Twitter @roblef

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