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After decades of sustained growth in the PC market (with the exception of 2001), growth is slowing to a halt. Overall PC shipments grew 4 per cent last year, down from 14 per cent the year before, and the lowest growth rate since 2001.
There are a few reasons for this. The global economy has been choppy since the downturn of 2008, depressing both business and consumer spending. The business PC upgrade cycle has gotten longer — Microsoft says that about two-thirds of all businesses are still using Windows Vista (which is more than five years old) or Windows XP (almost 11 years old). The introduction of the iPad in spring 2010 sucked the air out of the market for cheap tiny laptops called “netbooks,” which had been driving a lot of PC growth for the previous few years.
The release of Windows 8 later this year may drive a new wave of consumer adoption, although there’s a real risk that many consumers will find the huge design changes confusing and stick with Windows 7 or switch to Apple products instead. After that, the end of life for Windows XP in April 2014 could spur a big business upgrade cycle.
But for now, the PC market looks flat and mature.
Photo: IDC, Gartner
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