PC Shipments Collapsed Last Quarter

PC shipments fell 14 per cent last quarter to 78 million, according to data compiled from IDC and Gartner. It was the market’s worst quarter since the second quarter of 2009 during the depths of the global recession.

While it’s not unusual for PC shipments to decline in the first quarter, the rate of decline was twice what it has been in recent years.

The tumble is especially worrisome because it follows so closely on the heels of Windows 8’s release, which was supposed to help revive the PC market.

Microsoft took a big gamble with the new Metro interface, and it doesn’t appear to be paying off. As we wrote back in July, Windows 8 is basically an operating system optimised for touch screens, which leaves the traditional PC market in a bit of a lurch.

However, there are other factors contributing to the market’s decline:

  • The global economy is still weak, depressing consumer and business spending.
  • The upgrade cycle for business computers has lengthened.
  • Tablets have effectively killed the market for netbooks, low-cost PCs that had been driving growth in the PC market (Windows 8 hasn’t been doing too well in the tablet market either).
  • The consumer upgrade cycle may be lengthening as well. As consumers move away from PCs as their primary computing device, desktop and laptop computers see less wear and tear — and it also becomes less pressing to spend $1,000 on a new one.

The PC market isn’t going away any time soon: tablets and smartphones aren’t very good at many of the tasks that PCs still excel at. However, the days of robust growth are over. As Steve Jobs once predicted, PCs are like trucks, specialised machines used for heavy work tasks, while tablets are like sedans — consumer-friendly all-purpose vehicles. 

Click here for a larger version of this chart.

Global PC Shipments

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