According to IDC, lack of interest in PCs means that beyond replacement of existing systems there isn't much else to hold consumers' attention with the platform. The report tries to be a little upbeat, forecasting some growth in 2015, but that comes after projected drops in the next two years that don't support the notion of future growth under any circumstance.
IDC goes on to forecast total shipments should drop by 10.1% in 2013 and a further decline of -3.8% in 2014 may be followed by a slight uptick. If predictions hold steady, total PC shipments will remain just above 300 million comparable to sales volumes 5 years ago.
The business demand for PCs is less phlegmatic than the consumer, declining -5% year over year compared to nearly -15% for consumer. Businesses are still not switching to tablets at the same rate as consumers and, apparently, replacing obsolete Windows XP systems, before they are no longer supported at the end of 2014, is going to provide some uptick. But a decline is a decline, no matter how you look at it, and business buyers are just a little slower than consumers to catch a trend.
"Perhaps the chief concern for future PC demand is a lack of reasons to replace an older system," said Jay Chou, Senior Research Analyst, Worldwide Quarterly PC Trackers at IDC. "While IDC research finds that the PC still remains the primary computing device – for example, PCs are used more hours per day than tablets or phones – PC usage is nonetheless declining each year as more devices become available. And despite industry efforts, PC usage has not moved significantly beyond consumption and productivity tasks to differentiate PCs from other devices. As a result, PC lifespans continue to increase, thereby limiting market growth."
"The emergence of 2-in-1 devices designed to function in both clamshell and slate configurations – many of which will run Windows – along with Windows-based tablets themselves, is expected to provide some new volume for the Windows platform as well as the PC vendors and other parts of the traditional PC ecosystem in coming years," said Loren Loverde, Vice President Worldwide Quarterly PC Trackers. "The Windows-based tablet market (covered in IDC's Worldwide Quarterly Tablet Tracker) is expected to grow to 39.3 million units in 2017 from less than 7.5 million in 2013 and less than 1 million in 2011. However, relative to a PC market size of roughly 300 million units, these Windows tablets would add just a couple percent a year relative to PC growth. Even so, these Windows devices are projected to account for 10% of a combined PC & Windows Tablet market by 2016 – making them an important growth segment for the PC ecosystem."
PC Shipments by Region and Form Factor, 2012-2017 (Shipments in millions)
Source: IDC Worldwide Quarter PC Tracker, November 2013