IDC: PC Markets Continue To Struggle, Seek Stability

Global PC shipments will fall 7.3% year-over-year in 2016, with smaller declines to come in 2017, according to new numbers from IDC.
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Global PC markets continue to grapple for stability amid consistent decline, according to new data from the IDC Worldwide Quarterly PC Tracker. Shipments are predicted to fall 7.3% year-over-year in 2016.

Conditions for this year are weaker than expected and causing further decline in a fragile market. First-quarter growth for PC shipments totaled -12.5%, which was lower than IDC's expected -11.3% growth. As a result, growth for the year is expected to fall 2% below initial expectations.

There are several factors inhibiting market expansion. IDC cites weak currencies, political uncertainty, depressed commodity prices, and delayed projects as a few issues plaguing PCs.

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The PC market continues to weaken even as competitive pressure has eased. Growth rates for smartphones and tablets have also continued to fall, but the lack of competition has not resulted in greater PC sales.

Instead, it seems people are holding back on their spending overall. Consumers are under financial pressure and opting to delay new PC purchases by upgrading to Windows 10 for free or relying on other devices.

What about business customers? IDC noted that while several enterprises are considering upgrades to Windows 10 they are not investing in new PCs at a pace that would stabilize the commercial PC market.

However, PCs are performing better among businesses than among consumers. The consumer segment is expected to experience another year of double-digit declines in 2016 and into the future. Commercial shipments are projected to fall 4.4% in 2016 with slightly positive growth in coming years, IDC found.

Traditional PCs are threatened by hybrid devices, which are proving a source of competition and driving growth in the market. With detachable tablets thrown into the mix, the PC market is expected to fall by a little more than 2% in 2016 and benefit from slight positive growth in coming years.

Market research firm Canalys noted a similar pattern in the decline of tablets and the rise of detachables. Consumers are turning away from tablets, which are plummeting in sales, in favor of hybrids. Two-in-one devices saw greater than 13% growth during the first quarter of 2016.

Canalys experts warned that unless tablet vendors debut new features and capabilities, shipments will continue to fall.

"The tablet boom has faded in the distance and the market is fully mature," said senior analyst Tim Coulling in a statement. "Global shipment declines are expected to continue unless vendors bring transformational innovation to the market."

Overall, global PC shipments have been falling for an unusually long period of time. In IDC's latest report, experts acknowledge the industry is in serious trouble.

"We have now had four consecutive quarters of double-digit volume declines," said Loren Loverde, vice president of Worldwide Tracker Forecasting and PC Research at IDC. "This type of prolonged slump is unprecedented, and lowers the bar for some improvement going forward."

The PC market continues to face persistent challenges, Loverde noted. Improvement will come in the form of slower declines, at least for now.

Fortunately for PC makers, slower declines are expected. IDC's forecast anticipates increasingly smaller declines through 2017, with volume stabilizing in 2018.

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