Back-To-School Sales Fail To Prop Up The Ailing PC Market

Global PC shipments contracted about 7.7% in the third quarter of 2013 compared to the same period a year ago, based on an average of Gartner and IDC shipments numbers.

In volume terms, PC shipments totaled between 80 and 81 million in the quarter.

Here’s a data point that underscores the PC’s fading relevance: Samsung single-handedly sold over 75 million smartphones during the second quarter.

Essentially, Samsung’s smartphone business alone is nearly as large in unit terms as the entire global PC market.

This is the sixth-straight quarter that the PC market has exhibited a year-over-year decline.

Sequentially, shipments are up 6.7% compared to the previous quarter, but this is typical of the third quarter. It has historically been one of the PC market’s strongest, thanks to a cyclical boost from back-to-school shoppers.

More alarming, then, is that this is the largest 3rd quarter year-over-year decline the PC market has experienced since 2008, which is when the global economy began to crumble ahead of the U.S. mortgage credit collapse.

There is no convincing explanation on hand for the decline other than the proliferation of mobile devices. Consumers aren’t just shifting many online and computing tasks to mobile, they’re also getting more mileage out of their desktops as they shift their day-to-day usage to phones and tablets.

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