PC Shipments for Q1 Drop 13.9%, Steepest Drop in IDC’s PC Tracking History

PC

It doesn’t take a genius to realize that the growing mobile market has cut into PC sales in a pretty big way over the last few years. While PC sales have been declining for a while, new IDC estimates show that for the first quarter of 2013, the market fell a whole 13.9 percent.

Looking back, this is the largest drop down reported by IDC in its entire history of tracking the PC market, which goes back to 1994. According to IDC, the biggest factors for this larger level of decline is that customers are spooked by the changes found in Windows 8, combined with the rise of mobile devices and the fact that the netbook pretty much went extinct.

While Windows 8 might be part to blame, that’s not the whole story. Apple Mac computers haven’t exactly jumped up in sales either, after all. The bigger picture is that more consumers are waking up to the fact that they don’t need $800+ machines in order to live in our socially-driven, web-connected world. Unless your needs are demanding (business, gaming, etc) – you can easily get by with a smartphone or tablet in today’s world. Hell even a web-connected game system or PC might be enough for many folks out there.

Additionally, PC declines are being brought on due to the fact that many of the PCs out there are more expensive than what many people were buying a few years ago. Why is that? Netbooks are pretty much extinct (at least from major, known vendors) and instead vendors are pushing ultrabooks and touch-capable devices.

Of course there is a reason for that. Although there is probably still limited interest in the netbook, it never exactly had great profit margins and as fewer people were buying premium home computers, it became less and less profitable for vendors to continue offering netbooks. Higher-end PCs generally command higher profit margins. That and lower-end PCs often aren’t much better for many consumers than purchasing a similarly priced tablet or high-end smartphone.

Bottom-line is that the PC market isn’t going to grow again in the forseeable future, unless something crazy happens like people drop interest in smartphones and PCs. Instead, vendors need to understand that the PC market will soon be a secondary business with their main focus needing to be mobile.

The bigger question is whether Dell, HP and other major vendors has what it takes to truly make the move over to a mobile focus.

What do you think of the PC market decline? Is it over-exaggerated, or conversely do you feel that Microsoft and its vendors are too blame due to not bringing enough interesting products to the market to win back desktop and laptop consumers? Let us know what you think in the comments below.

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One Comment

  1. Michael Blair says:

    I think the days of the sub $500 PC have gone and good riddance. Cheap products from indiscriminate vendors are not profitable for anyone. With the advent of truly portable and powerful ultra books, anyone with any real interest in a computer will be pleased to pay close to $1,000 for a device that provides the computing power and versatility of the modern Windows 8 touch screen or IOS devices, backed not only by the full range of legacy Windows and Apple applications but by a growing and rich library of applications running the gamut from games to business to social, all of which are now presented on a common user interface from desktop to mobile.

    The transition will be painful for some, not the least of which will be those who have introduced consumer devices on the Android platform that compromise many of the functions users want with the short term lure of small form factors and long battery lives, advantages that will shortly be in common among suppliers regardless of platform.

    In the merging and emerging world of mobile, the winners will offer cross platform compatibility, cloud software and storage, and consistent interface from enterprise to social, from desktop to phone, and from device to device.

    Today, the only suppliers that have offerings that come close to what consumers will ultimately demand are Apple and Microsoft, with Google’s current industry lead weakly based on free OS and cheap devices with inconsistent user interfaces and fragmented support systems and infrastructure. As ubiquitous as they are, they cannot last. Prostituting your personal information to permit targeted spam cannot be a pervasive and successful strategy as the privacy risks grow and the need to protect your identity, your family and your finances from intrusion grows to a level where free access to your information is no longer tolerable.

    Consumers today hide their fears and frustrations behind a veneer of evangelical support for a given brand in the vain hope that the brand alone will eventually provide the forms and functions they really want without the hassle of having to think beyond the screen of their device. The evidence of this frustration is the wailing of Apple fans who condemn Microsoft for not putting Office on IOS, the long line-ups outside stores to pay higher prices for marginal increases in processing power or screen resolution as if by doing so they will somehow find it easier to create or consume the content they seek; and, the garbage dumps filled with last year’s models – fully functional but no longer satisfying.

    Computing will mature quickly, and like the car industry, the successful suppliers will have to offer levels of quality and functionality not imaginable a decade ago with performance features heretofore found only on race tracks.

    There will be failures of some companies and successes for others, with fickle consumers choosing the flavour of the day and wearing their brand choice like a medal of accomplishment for having the foresight to plunk down their money for a device they will soon tire of only to fight for a place in line for the next “big thing”.

    Reason will come in time, and with it there will be segmentation, with a Mercedes or BMW equivalent enjoying the higher end; a Ford or Chevrolet meeting mid market needs with good products; and, highly functional and efficient Honda and Hyundai equivalents providing entry level devices that work perfectly well and would suit everyone if their ego did not ride in the seat beside them displaying their brand preference like a badge of honour.

    IDC will report on the outcome after it becomes clear and apparent, and claim to have forecast it. No one will care.

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