PC Sales Plunge In Worst Single Quarter Ever [Report]

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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.

Source: IDC