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IDC report shows 13.9% decline in PC shipments, but doesn’t show an accurate outlook

There’s a report going around the web from the IDC about PC shipments from the first quarter of 2013. The overall outlook is rather gloomy – PC shipments were down 13.9% from the same period a year ago. A bit worse than the forecast of a negative 7.7% decline. What’s this mean for Windows 8 and the PC market going forward?

Depends on who you ask. Most Microsoft critics see this as the writing on the wall and the ‘death’ of the PC. While others are quick to point out that the traditional definition of a ‘PC’ is changing and that we’re in a transition period. Here’s a quote from Bob O’Donnell, besides being one those ‘glass half-empty guys’ he’s also the IDC Program Vice President of Clients and Displays.

"At this point, unfortunately, it seems clear that the Windows 8 launch not only failed to provide a positive boost to the PC market, but appears to have slowed the market. While some consumers appreciate the new form factors and touch capabilities of Windows 8, the radical changes to the UI, removal of the familiar Start button, and the costs associated with touch have made PCs a less attractive alternative to dedicated tablets and other competitive devices. Microsoft will have to make some very tough decisions moving forward if it wants to help reinvigorate the PC market.”

Blaming the decline in PCs because of the removal of the familiar Start button is a stretch. But he does bring up an interesting point. Were consumers looking at desktops and laptops ready for a radical change?

Another thing to note about these IDC numbers is how they define a ‘PC’. Shipments of PCs fell 13.9%, but how does the IDC define a PC? Like this:

"PCs include Desktops, Portables, Mini Notebooks, and Workstations and do not include handhelds, x86 Servers and Tablets (i.e. iPad and Android-based Tablets with detachable keyboards). Data for all vendors are reported for calendar periods."

That means tablets and hybrids running Windows 8 were left out of the count for PCs. Devices like the Surface RT and Pro weren’t considered by the IDC to be PCs in their tally. While sales of these devices wouldn’t offset the decline of 13.9%, they would have helped improve the figure and give a better outlook. Personally I see any device running Windows 8 as a PC, so it’s odd to not consider the Surface Pro or ThinkPad Tablet 2 in those numbers.

What do you guys think of the outlook on Windows 8 and the PC market based off this IDC report? Sound off below.

Source: IDC

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Reader comments

IDC report shows 13.9% decline in PC shipments, but doesn’t show an accurate outlook

132 Comments

IMO the issue is mainly due to the fact that you can still get a lot done with a 4 or 5 year old PC. Unless you are a gamer, graphic artist or video editor, why would you need a new PC? Most of Windows sales come from new PCs but if one doesn't need a new PC, then...

So true! My home PC is a Dell Optiplex 740 with AMD dual core processor and 4GB RAM. It came with WIndows XP and I upgraded it to WIndows 7 and now WIndows 8. It still work very well for me!
Look at those tablet users, quite a number of them get new model every year or even every half year to catch up... Newer OS for additional functions, a big jump in processing power. No more OS update for my almost 2 years old Motorola XOOM and it's laggy like hell now.
 

 

+1 for common sense. I think the fact that system requirements haven't really changed much from Vista -> 7 -> 8 should be telling. That's not to say requirements should go up simply to get sales. It's more speaking at the end of rapid performance increases. Just go on the wiki entry for Intel Processors. Your i3s and even many i5s are clocked at roughly the same as Pentium 4s. The only increases are in cores and cache while improving power requirements and minimizing the size. That's all great and everything, but the most common programs are either a) not tuned for 4, 6, or 8 cores or b) are still basic enough that a single core can do the job just fine.
It's sad how no one says that the mobile device categories are failing given the former market leader (Apple) has been missing expectations as of late. At a certain point in time, people don't have a need to continually buy new products unless you have an incentive (aka a contract). The same $200 phones every two years are akin to the netbooks that drove PC sales the last few years. Tablet sales are seeing the most growth in the cheaper models. Adding touch to a device makes the cost skyrocket and bucks the long trend of growth being from cheaper devices.
You look at most of the offerings now and they are devices that not only will last a lot longer, but also are more of a purchase decision. I'm not going to claim a $200 device is an impluse buy, but it's much easier to justify over a $600 device that will really only get used for a few things. If I was making PCs right now, I'd go all Walmart and get something with usable specs and sell it just over cost. Sure, maybe I'd have a highend model or two that had some mark up, but the market share drivers right now are low cost solutions.
PCs aren't dead just yet. There are still too many restrictions on the app store model for businesses. The performance/dollar is still too high for mobile/ultraportable devices. Sure, the day I can plop my phone down on my desk and my monitor, speakers, mouse, and keyboard are sync up and I can use my phone in the same method as I would a desktop that's tucked behind/under a desk will be the day the desktop will be dead. That said, I would imagine the OS looks an awful lot like what Microsoft is doing with Windows Blue or how Ubuntu will be on phones, tablets, and desktops.

Agreed. If someone was debating about upgrading a PC or two but found out he could have fun with a $200 tablet, guess where the money will go?
A similar thing is happening with TV sales. The HD is no longer a novelty so they throw 3D but a large amount of potential customers are "meh" about the 3D thing, realizing they can still get a LOT of enjoyment out of a non-3D 1080p HDTV. OLED and 4K will come, but you really don't need to "upgrade" to a newer TV right this minute.

I'm on the same bandwagon. I built a machine back in 05 with great specs for the time. But I would not pretend for 1 second that a P4 and an i3/i5/i7 perform anywhere near the same level. My P4 machine overclocked to 3.6Ghz gets its ass handed to it by my Core2duo machine clocked at 2.0ghz (using the same 32bit OS). AFAIK the desktop world is different than the mobile world as I don't believe desktop programs need to be written to take advantage of multiple cores.

Everything needs to be coded to take advantage for the multiple threads. Even if you had an i3 and tried running single theaded programs, you'd see no extra benefit outside of the extra cache.
 If you keep up with Tom's Hardware ever, they actually totally redid their best gaming CPUs as a result of more recent games actually taking advantage of the multiple cores and now pretty much flipped the lower end from all Intel to mostly AMD.
For what it's worth, I'm "in" a similar boat by choice. I have a Phenom 9950 running stock from a system I built the end of 2008. I've upgraded my video card because the previous one died and added a SSD (Win8/MS Office/Adobe Suite) to run alongside the original HDD (programs/storage). I'm still scoring above a 7 in my WEI for everything, but my primary hard disk for a score of 6.9 (this was a low 5 prior to the SSD). Over almost 5 years, I've spent about $800 in all on a computer that should easily last me another 5 years or more at the current rate. It plays the games I want on the best settings and cold boots up in about 6 or 7 seconds. Tell me what dropping another $800 on a desktop is going to get me? Nothing. The only reason I want a tablet is to play my Win8 app games on the couch while watching TV. If my WP7 played the exact same titles as I had on my desktop, I wouldn't even want a tablet.

I've been saying the same for years, since core2, most people's computing needs are statisfied for a long time.  My HTPC from 2006 is still doing the job 1080p to my TV today.
Someone just wants to sway the stock market

Glad to know I'm not alone on this. There are 3 PCs and one laptop in my house (probably not very common). One is a Dell Poweredge 400SC (technically made for a server OS) running Windows 7 32-bit. Another one is a Gateway SX2802 running Windows 7 64-bit, an Acer laptop that was upgraded from Vista to Windows 7, and a home-built PC that I upgraded to Windows 8 just to become familiar with it. The Dell hardly gets used and I might get rid of it. The laptop gets used a lot by my wife and I. The Gateway is the main family PC and it's currently running Photoshop, Photoshop Lightroom, Pinnacle Studio, etc. Would the Gateway benefit a lot from a Windows 8 upgrade? I mean, I like Windows 8 but Windows 7 is getting the job done just fine on the Gateway.
 
Ed Bott has been tweeting all day that this decline is about the economy but the truth is I'm seeing people spending the cash on mobile devices like smartphones and tablets because they already have a PC or laptop that do what they need so they geek out on mobile electronics.
 
The same thing will happen to mobile in 10 years. You'll be able to hang on to a smartphone for 3-5 years without worrying about it not being able to do what you need it to do. The only thing that'll make you get a new phone sooner will be physical damage, losing the phone, or being a tech geek.
 

"he only thing that'll make you get a new phone sooner will be physical damage, losing the phone..."
 
Agreed, and all those things are a lot less likely to happen to a desktop PC, and somewhat less likely with a laptop too I'd imagine, depending on how you use it. But your phone, your phone is generally always with you, much higher chance of getting KO'd.

Very true, even worse I am a gamer, and because the games are generally console ports are therefore reliant on 7 year old hardware specs I have only just last year (Planetside 2) been given a reason to upgrade my 2 year old PC hardware. 
Until then everything I ran on my regular spec PC (I7 and ATI 4870) I could just dial up to the max and run easily, to be honest the upgrade I made before making that PC was somewhat disappointing which led to me stopping my yearly upgrade.  So for most people I guess its the same, no real reason to upgrade their PC for years on end.

Right, that's what i figured also, people don't renew their PC every year.
Just a comment on the "Personally I see any device running Windows 8 as a PC" I don't agree... WP8 isn't a PC... it's becoming hard to make the distinctions, phones have become small tablets (phablets or regular touch screen phones), tablets are PC's, does that make phones PC's ?

The battery add-on is great for that. Gives a slight incline for better angling, a place for the pen, and nearly (if not fully) doubles the battery life. The cost is great if you're out and about and it's worth it. I cam send some pictures of it if you'd like.

"Microsoft....they are those guys with 73 billion in revenue that was about 25 billion some 10 years ago and growing. They are the manufacturer of the failed Surface Tablet line that will probably add $8 to $10 billion to their revenue, which will more than offset the fall in PC sells. They are #1 to #4 in pretty much every software related business and now # 6 to # 10 in the tablet and smartphone market. Their smartphone and tablet manufacturing business as a standalone business would place them in the top 1000 companies by revenue. Maybe top 500."
my favorite post on this topic......
 

I just got my Surface Pro and I'm loving it. Already have order requests from clients. I think its a slump and nothing more most of my clients have taken to W8. This is just my opinion I could very well be wrong.

It's not misleading but as Sam pointed out, it doesn't include tablets. The market is changing. This report is accurate but by old standards.

Except that IDC does include some hybrids, which is exactly what this article is about, and is wrong about. 
 

It is when you compare it to Gartner ones. "IDC says Apple's Mac shipments were DOWN 7.5%. Gartner says Apple's Mac shipments were UP 7.4% "

That report was looking at sequential quarters (Christmas quarter 2012 versus first quarter 2013) which is generally not all that useful of a comparison (seasonal variation is a big factor). That is why it is usually much more useful to look at year over year numbers as they take seasonal variation into account.

"Microsoft has to make some very tough decisions moving forward..."
NO. Microsoft has already made those tough decisions with Windows 8, by turning the definition of PC upside-down. If the Windows 7 philosophy were to continue any longer, the market would have equally tanked yet Microsoft would be powerless in bringing it back. Thanks to the Modern UI, Windows is ready for the future of the PC market. Now it's time for the OEMs and users to do their part. How surprising that Lenovo, the biggest backer of the new form factors for Windows 8, was the least impacted on the market.

I think this report is some what accurate to a point. I think customers are more optimistic now about Windows 8 than they were when it first came out. I still find it hard that they did not include tablet convertibles and Surface Pro and other similar tablets. Those have increased in popularity. If this is the case with Windows it is probably worse for Apple and their Mac lineup.

If I were to buy a windows 8 desktop or laptop, I would have to get one with a touch screen. I just can't see w8 being all that great an experience with a keyboard and mouse. I know, I know, there's tons of people who are happy to point out that it's actually great, but oh well... W8 was very obviously designed with touch in mind, so why not utilize that strength?

I have Win8 Pro on both my non-touch desktop and a touchscreen laptop.  Using Win8 w/o touch is overblown.  Don't get me wrong, it's definitely more intuitive with touch, but it's not terrible without.  I even bought Start8 when I first got Win8 on the desktop to help me transition.  Now I barely use it.  Generally only for shutting down, since this is one thing that's terrible about Win8 on a standard PC.  Win8 needs some improvements to usability for sure, but the difficulty in using is probably from people who've never used it.

I spent around 15mins only and I already get used to the new UI of WIndows 8. So sad that many people said they've spent 15 mins to find out how to shutdown....

I even don't need the start button.

"the difficulty in using is probably from people who've never used it." this is what the real problem of WIndows 8 is.

 

Shutdown Button location my single overriding hate on Win 8 : here you go:
 
Right-click on the traditional Windows desktop and select New | Shortcut. In the box that pops up, type your chosen command. You can make it a Shut Down (/s) or Restart (/r) button, and specify how long the system will wait before acting on the command (/t x)
So for a Shut Down button that waits 10 seconds type:

shutdown /s /t 10
For a Restart button that waits 3 seconds type:

shutdown /r /t 3
In the next box that pops up, name the button appropriately. Then rightclick the Icon select Properties then select Icon - you know the rest. 
This one action has made the most difference to Win 8 for me
 
 

so... what's wrong with your PC's power button? Does it self destruct after you switch the machine on?
 
For the life of me i don't understand people complaining about how Win8 not having a big red shutdown icon is a horrible thing. I use my notebook's physical power swicth to turn it on and switch it off.
 
The only situation where this can be a valid complaint is shutting the machine down via remote desktop. But that doesn't sound like an everyday scenario for tens of millions of people.

I guess to each their own. Personally, I have been using WIn 8 part time for 3 months now with a keyboard and mouse and I stil dislike it. I just ordered a tablet with Windows 8 on it, to see if I love it, if not, I will put WIn7 back on the tablet. I really am trying but, with a Keyboard and mouse, it sucks.
 
I work in IT and have been for over 20 years, I talk to a lot of people about computers and modern tech. Windows 8 is very poor in a lot of eyes (about 95% of people who have tried it dislike it), There is too much for a change for people and it is not doing that good because of that. It's also not being accepted via the corporate world very well, that is MS's bread and butter here...
 
On Windows 9, offer a Start Menu or Metro option, so people could change back to the old interface IF THEY WANT with out a 3rd party hack addon, and I bet sales will pick up a few percent higher..

Just hit Alt+F4 from the desktop.  Or Ctrl+Alt+Delete and its in the lower right hand corner.  Or hit the power button.  There are almost too many options for shutdown.

I get a lot of people at work asking me to remove Windows 8 off of their personal computers. I have yet to see Windows 8 in a work enviorment. But I can't convince the fan boys of this fact. ;-)

When I'm at work, I keep moving my mouse to the corners looking for Charms! Lol ('o') BTW, my Windows 7 PC is slowing down like bad...home PC with Windows 8 flying =[

Where do you work? I'm in IT and we have about 6-7 Windows 8 users in our small team. And the ones that don't have it want it because they noticed the increase in performance we got when we upgraded our Dell workstations.
Power user IT types will definately see the benefit of Win 8. Mind you we all use keyboard and mouse. Windows 8 has more keyboard shortcuts than Windows 7/Vista and XP so i dont know what the problem is

I upgraded my Windows 7 laptop to Windows 8 Pro, non touch and I do just fine with out it. It actually improved my battery life too by like 30 minutes and it felt faster on top of that. And its no cheapy shit either. (i7, 8GB ram, 750GB 7200rpm HDD, GT540, etc. ) I was considering putting some SSD in it but now I don't see a reason... Itvturns on in like 13 seconds...

"While sales of these devices wouldn’t offset the decline of 13.9%, they would have helped improve the figure and give a better outlook. Personally I see any device running Windows 8 as a PC, so it’s odd to not consider the Surface Pro or ThinkPad Tablet 2 in those numbers"

Nice "straw grasping" attempt, Sam ;-) 

People were writing about the Death of The PC for two years.
 Hardware pricing is a big part of the problem. Why upgrade to get smaller drives, lose the DVD.Blu-Ray, and possibly an HD screen. SSD pricing needs to come down fast as do 27": all-in-ones and Touch Screen monitors.
.

That's asking for a lot, if we could make this stuff ourselves, I'm pretty sure they could bring the price down...but we can't, so it ain't happening just yet. Imagine what kind of world that would be like! =P

Lets keep wishing... :) By then we will have other technology that will replace everything you just mentioned and then you'll be saying the same thing. Some people come into stores and they cannot believe the price of a computer now compared to what it was 8-10 years ago. Then they buy the cheapest POS and later come back to complain it does not do what they want it to do lol.

I think a lot of people are waiting until the Haswell CPU comes our this fall, before they invest in new PCs. At that point I expect a major surge in new Windows-based computer purchases.

I think even more people have never heard of haswell and have no idea what it even is.

Reality is Apple could pit a slower processor in the next iPad and people will still buy it and think it is better. Most people can't be bothered to care about specs or even know what they are comparing.

HERE HERE. i have said this countless of times.
 
i will not invest in a laptop, tablet, or hybrid until Haswell. and maybe even Haswells 2nd Gen.
 
both my laptop and home pc are currently on Core i3's 2nd Gen with 4Gigs of ram, upgrading from win 7 to win 8 just gave me even more reason to stay with these specs for another year or two :)

Next Hot Tickets:
27" Touch Screen HD monitor with either a Surface Pro or RT 7.8 inch featuring HD outs and WIndows Blue. Maybe an XBox 720 to go with :) and a 5" Lumia 1000 with HD outs.
 
The PC is dead.

I think Microsoft is looking to merge the PC/tablet word into one which in my opinion would give them a huge advantage over Android/iOS tablets. I read an article somewhere where tablets are starting to cannibalize PC's and this is a clear sign. I think MS made a risky but right call here. I wonder if Apple will do something similar since their overall Mac sales are looking grim...

My thoughts:

  • Windows 7 was a big sale time and it's hard to beat that (after selling a bunch of cars on Saturday your Monday and Tuesday numbers always suck by comparison).
  • Computers have a longer shelf life than they used to. The average consumer has no need to upgrade.
  • The economy still stinks.
  • This doesn't count custom PCs, which make up most of your hardcore gamers.
  • Windows 8 was never meant to destroy Windows 7. Microsoft is playing the long game and Windows 8 is their small step toward a different future. Windows 7 will be the last of the traditional OSs.
  • Windows 8 already exceeds the install base of any one OSX version and is on pace to break all OSX versions combined by the end of the year. (ready to call the iMac a failure?)

I think PCs will do fine. But the world will redefine what a PC is.  As mentioned, convertibles are not considered PCs and I think they will sell a lot better than stand alone tablets in the future.

Bingo. Give this man a cigar. Why people, especially analysts (really look at the key word in that word), can't seem to put 2 and 2 together is beyond me. Most PC purchased during the past 3 years are more than good enough. There hasn't been a significant performance improvement for most people (power users can use the extra beef, but the majority of consumers can't). Combine that with a horrible economy and you get these kinds of numbers. While desktops are clearly going to decline some, having a full power computer, with a big honkin' monitor, all at the comfort of your desk, is something most people always revert too when they need to get real work and entertainment done.
 
Win7 sold tremendously to the pent up demand that was around at the time. When the economy was making a minor comeback, people bought. The need isn't as prevalent now, and people are turning to mobile smaller alternatives. Just look at the Ford Focus with cars. In fact, when you look at the top sellers, most are now small cars, inlcuding in the US. If the economy was roaring, I bet SUV's would start selling a lot more again. People aren't buying more than they need and are shopping much more for bargains (tablets are cheaper than laptops and PC, in most cases, though not all).
 

Hardly the "death" of PCs. The industry in general has shipped fewer units this year and that's obviously due to the rise of other portables. Sure, Microsoft will have to work harder to gain a foothold in that area but it is hardly the end of the world for them. PCs are here to stay for at least the next 10 years...there is a market for both form factors.

I feel in 2013 after decades of growth this is an inevitable. I think pretty much anyone who wants a PC at this point has one (or several). I bought a Thinkpad x1 carbon last year after my last TabletPC in 2008. Can't see myself buying another for at least 4 years.

I love Windows, but I don't see a problem with the PC market declining. There's a plague of cheap, commoditized PCs which IMO, Windows should be rid of (and that plague will fall on Android). Sure, it will mean reduced relevance of Windows in general, but the most important applications in our daily use are mostly now connected to web services. That means client applications are far simpler than they needed to be before, since most of the heavy lifting is being done in the cloud.
 
So what I'm saying is that even if Windows dropped down to a 20-30% share of tablets + PCs, it would still be too important to ignore for developers, but would afford them some room to actually innovate instead of supporting that plague of cheap hardware full of bloatware.

I'm fairly certain that people will be stuffed to their eyeballs and get sick of Android just the same...I still don't get how people STILL want to stack icons upon icons everywhere. Anyone figure there's a condition they may be suffering from? I Don't Care (IDC) how popular iOS and Android has been, it still basically mimics the desktop look, and Microsoft has made a more mobile-minded UI, but the people's heart belongs to the everlasting icon? #Heathens =/

If tablets aren't taken in to consideration in this number then I cant take it very seriously. Fact of the matter is PCs are becoming a thing of the past. Yes windows 8 was a little difficult for me to adjust to but changes are bound to happen with windows. Tablets and smart phones are what's in. Most people are buying tablets over laptops and pcs anyway. Pcs will always have their place. Its just the market for computers that aren't mobile is going down while everything else is climbing. Welcome to the new age..to the new age.. Lol jp

Exactly!! I think with Windows 8, great but not perfect, is they are looking to merge tablet/PC into one. This will at some point create a shift and probably end up cannibalizing regular PCs for more portable, longer battery life tablets. Lets hope it gives them an advantage and the Apple with their Mac line up can keep up.

Is the IDC literally saying people are going into the store and saying "oh, man, the Start Menu is gone. Let's buy this device that looks nothing like Windows and runs none of the programs we have at home!"

May be people don't really care about not having their old software and just wants a play device. A lot of schools already have computer available that run all the programs students need so people don't care about not having a computer at home. As long as they can keep track of Kim kardashian on twitter they'll be fine.

maybe it could be that our computers are so strong that we dont need to buy new ones like we had to 10+ years ago. if the computer is slowing down you can modify them and upgrade them, at the same time most people are using them for web and music, gamers buy high end stuff so all they have to do every 5 years is upgrade the video cards since games are now using more gpu then cpu.

I have a friend who works in a computer shop and repairs PCs for the owner. He told me a lot of ppl hate Windows 8 and come to him to remove it from their computers. IMO Windows 8 is only good with Touch screen devices.

I get a lot of people at work asking me to remove Windows 8 off of their personal computers. I have yet to see Windows 8 in a work enviorment. But I can't convince the fan boys of this fact. ;-)

every time i hear people say they dislike windows 8 i ask them why, you would be pretty amazed at the idiotic reasoning that people give for disliking the product.
"i dont know how to open the control panel"
"how do i open the internet"
"how do i go back a page on the internet"
"why cant i just use the old windows view"
When i actually show them the stuff that they are looking to do the faster way, They all go OHHHHH well thats way easier.
people just try it without REALLY trying it.

People in general appear to have no desire to "learn".  Meaning the desire to learn something new even if it only takes 10 minutes is too much.  The removal of a start button is rather silly when the home screen 'is' the start button.  Now there should be an option, and there is, to add the start button.  Being able to use a touchscreen and a keyboard/mouse is intuitive, fun, and productive.  My complaints are few and some of them are going to get addressed in Blue, but Windows 8 is a much improved OS. 
 
Windows has and always will be a topic for general public to talk negatively about.  To see people still type the dollar sign when typing MS shows how lost some are with the times.  The PC sales are not getting any assistance from ZDNET and other websites that continue to write garbage, and the fact people repeat what they "heard" without knowing anything about it is rather typical. 

The market is changing. Plain and simple. This is why MS did what they did with Windows 8. The PC in the old hunk of a desktop form is no longer necessary for the majority of users. Also, the existing PCs are not outdated as quickly now. A PC you bought 5 years ago can still run the latest operating and applications without being updated. So why would people buy new ones? Simply, they are buying companion devices like tablets. Eventually, all PCs will be packed in a tablet form and just dock into a "desktop" if needed.

The "post-PC" does not exist. Its simply morphing into a portable form factor.

Also, I think we were in a PC boom over the past 5-7 years and now the international boom in computers is focusing on a more mobile aspect of computing.

These companies should probably just focus on parts, making the PC parts better interchangeable and perhaps a bit more dummy proof! Sure they could still make the stellar big machines for people who want them, but they've all gotten FAR too accustomed to selling all these PCs like gangbusters they fell asleep and stopped trying! The PC should probably start getting much closer to something Xbox-like...or even like HPs Z1 workstation, they have somewhat modular parts. ;)

Apple shipments were down over 7%, is Windows 8 to blame for that also.
Lenevo shipments were up over 13% on Windows 8 hardware.
these stupid reports are just that.

I work in software and it used to be that companies gave you a workstation desktop. At my last 3 jobs the standard issue is a laptop for everyone from devs to managers. If I wasn't a dev and artist and gamer I don't know why I would bother getting my own PC when work gives me one I can take home. That's what my father does. He hasn't owned a PC personally for 12+ years. Used to be only a small portion of employees got laptops.

My 4 year Pc does everything i want, im waiting for Windows RT tablets to drop price so i can buy one.
Many people buying tablets are buying them to complement their Pc just like i´ll do soon.
Tablets are cool and can keep growing but they are not outselling the Pc market anytime soon, on holiday period tablets sold 52.5m units, its pretty good but compared to the 90m pcs in the same time, still no there just to not talk that there are already over 2 bilions pcs out there and most people dont want to upgrade, i sure wont upgrade anytime soon but im buying a freaking tablet, that lenovo think pad looks awesome!

What about the elephant in the room? ya'know that thing called the economy? The whole world economy is down, massively down. I'll bet $1 (all I have to spare) the economy is the number one reason.

Totally GT, I've been saying this about Windows Phone too...simple fact, who can afford this stuff? If I *had* the money I'd buy lots of stuff, but I really can't because there ISN'T any money! It should come back though... :S

As a devices analyst for IDC maybe I can help address some of the points made by Sam.
- Firstly, yes, we have separate trackers for PCs and tablets. Our research has heavily indicated that consumers use tablets very differently from the way they use PCs. One is for content production, the other for content consumption. The fact is, for a large number of casual users, tablets are good enough. These guys have allowed tablets to eat up their wallet share, and of course they now regularly upgrade their phones every 1-3 years. In today's flagging global economy, if you've just bought a new tablet / smartphone, it's highly unlikely you'll be able to get a new PC as well.
- And yeah, we classify the Surface and ThinkPads as tablets, because based on our current taxonomy we only consider computers with unremovable keyboards as PCs. I'm not going to say this is a perfect way to distinguish between the two, and there were lots of discussions around this, but I challenge you to find a better way to define them in a research context. And no, combining tablets and PCs together is not an option because the IT world doesn't see it that way.
- Also, when looking at worldwide data, it's best not to think from a purely US perspective. Unfortunately that quote from Bob didn't paint a clear picture of what's going on. The US may be getting their shiny new models the second they're launched, but in reality the US is no longer a growth market for PCs. Penetration is already way too high, and the vast majority of the population are no longer refreshing their PCs as frequently as before, and you can blame the economy and distractions like tablets and smartphones for that. The new battleground for PCs are emerging markets, and well, you just come to Asia and see how many touch-enabled PCs you can find. Ask yourself if you would buy a Windows 8 device without touch. Shortage of touch panels may not be Microsoft's fault, but it doesn't change the fact that mid to high end PCs with Windows 8 are not selling either. So yes it has been a failure.
But don't fret. While 2012-2013 may be bad years for PCs based on my points above, we're still seeing worldwide PC shipments start to grow again in forthcoming years. But it will have very little to do with the US I can assure you.
And finally, there are no glass half-empty guys here at IDC. Our data is built from all relevant sources in countries across the world - vendors, resellers, retailers ODMs, etc. We draw conclusions based on the amalgamated outcomes of those meetings. It's a tough job getting it right, but we try. :) Hope you guys can pick your way through these ramblings!

I also don't think it helped that Microsoft let us get upgrades for so little, not much incentive to get new machines no matter how much they tried to incentivize getting one, but I agree...with everyone focusing on getting the new form factors because they are now becoming more available, they put off getting a tower. In my case, I'd already HAD a system that worked just as well and upgraded the OS all I need to do is upgrade whatever components if necessary, but like primetime TV, I'm not letting some machine dictate my habits! They work for ME not the other way around...but I'm all Windows! ;)

The numbers aren't all that amazing, when you see what they are measuring. I have a new Surface for myself and am getting an HP Revolve 810 for work. Neither is considered a "PC" by their standards! Sure, sales of older-style computers is down. Lenovo has a lot of innovative, new designs, so did better. But that headline doesn't get clicks, does it?

Let us know how that Revolve is...trying to convince my job to trade my crappy ProBook for something newer and longer lasting! ;)

Wow. I had no idea about the HP Revolve. Share with us your experience in the Forums when you get it! :)

See that's fun... I haven't bought a PC in 6 years and the one of the reasons is windows 8. And now I am just waiting for a form factor at power level I can use for DJing. My eyes are on a XPS 18 with i7. My only wish is that it had the wacom digitizer.

Saying Wndows 8 is to blame for the PC decline needs to be backed up by comparing sales of handhelds/tablets and hybrids. If those devices run Windows 8 or RT, then the decline can't be blamed on Windows 8 being shunned by consumers becuase of a new UI paradigm, but rather because of a shift to those kind of devices in general.

But hey - the tech press loves stuff like "Windows 8 to blame for cancer, internet trolls and gang related crime", so IDC - like some financial analysts - are more than happy to supply a wording to fit that bill.

Assholes!

I think its kind of whats the word BULLSHIT, I've been to Frys, people especially gamers are making their own PCs considering you can get 128 in RAM, thats awsome. Can't do that in a laptop or a tablet. Also saw a laptop with 16 Gigs of ram. Theres one thing people don't get  and its about to hit them smack in the face. I'm a system admin, and I admit, desktops are going away and laptops will probably take over, BUT, as far as OS's XP is about to die, thats about 50% of the users. the time of life is about expire and all those people that have XP machines and I do have one on it, no more updates PERIOD. Were getting ready for it at my work, because the same thing is happening to 2003 server, Micosoft gives you about 10 years and then your done, if you like it or not, and the people can try Apple, or Chrome, My sister bought Apple air laptop, the thing is a doorstop now, she got into video games and got a laptop that can stomp that little machine. Great idea, the CPU and Ram blow. Give it 2 years and let them do their survey again, I read one of the biggest hedge fun people and his opinion on Microsoft, HOLD, their coming back.
 
Also I'm writing this on Windows 8 pro laptop on a I7 with 8 gigs of ram and a solid state hard drive, boots up faster then apples. :)

I think people are more educated now. they arent rushing out to buy that new copy of windows 8 or a new computer when they know windows 7 or even XP are suiting their needs. Especially when Microsoft says they will support older OS's for a long time. Instead of spending a few hundred bucks on some hadware and OS upgrades you can just get the latest must have gadget like an iPad or Surface. I looked around today and noticed we have no desktop computers in our house. I've never had a desktop, my 1st computer was a hand down Mac book from my uncle a couple of years ago.gaming on my tablet and xbox is enough for me and I'm guessing alot of people its the same.

I think that's the one thing the new windows just reinforces is that for all the one PC in every home...people don't really need all that much machine. So, my only gripe is that these machines are still much too expensive...I get that there's a price for tech but this stuff has been around. When did it start going back up? These companies just learned never to rest on their laurels... #NoBrainer

This is a no brainer, people complained about Windows 8 for PC way before it came out. People told Microsoft this wouldn't work on PC's but Microsft never listens. I wonder if they are listening now?

so you sir, seem to be a troll. since i have been reading the comments you have posted nothing but windows 8 hate. Now i dont begin to give a crap about who you are and what your personal reason for hating it is, as we are all entitled, but when you come and spam it, it calls into question the credibility of your posts.

Nothing else can offer the the versatility and features of a laptop so that's what I'll be getting next.

Personally, I have been able to live with out the Start button, but I'm not the average user. I'm well advanced and I consider my self to be open minded about change, but you have to pay attantion to your average consumer. Most use the computer for work, school, emails, social network, and so on. I have heard the complaint about the Start Menu as well as the tile situation. I for one think that Microsoft should have kept the Touch and the Windows OS separate. Having both just adds alot of confusion to the average consumer. Just the whole idea of two different types of operating system really made people just keep what they have and what they know. There should have been a Windows touch for touch tablets and an upgrade from Windows 7 called Windows 8 without the tiles. Believe me, I think the way Windows 8 operate is great, for a person like me, but again, I'm not the average consumer. I think that Microsoft was trying to do things outside the box hoping that it will catch on. Again, Microsoft should have put more thought about the types of consumers who use Windows and what they use Windows for. Windows Pro takes some getting used to. It's a learning curve to use with a mouse and most people just want to click and go. My roomate had downloaded the "Shell Start Menu", he loves Windows 8, but cares less about the tiles, so he never uses them. Maybe Microsoft will figure it out. I think that Microsoft should reconsider putting the Start Menu back and find a way to make using Windows pro with a mouse a bit more user friendly. I hope they figure it out.

I'm a laptop man. I will own a desktop. But mobile is making entertainment possible in places you didn't find it a few years ago. PC sales is supposed to decline as a result. Microsoft is responding to that demand with mobile. As expected.

Count me in also. Got avDell Latitude 10 Tablet in January. Runs W8 Pro. I don't use my laptop nearly as much any more.

Doubt this is Windows 8's fault. If anything people who see me using Windows 8 want to get it because it's pretty slick and being able to search from any app and jump into another app to do another search so effortessly is pretty nifty too. Not to mention being able to share things almost like you do on mobile devices is really cool too. Yeah, I still get but how do I use it, but not so much anymore...
I think the biggest issue are OEMs. There is a lackluster availablility of unique hardware out there. Lenovo with their Yoga is really expensive. I've heard several people want it, but it is just too much for them. Then you have Microsoft with the Surface series, which seems like the only other alternative tablet to get. Everything else is just, "why do I need another laptop?" We need to see price points come down for unique hardware, and it seems Lenovo is the only one taking charge. Not gonna see much growth if all you have is like 1.5 OEM backing you (Asus has some nice stuff too, especially a cheap decent touch screen laptop).

I only buy high end PCs (I have an Alienware Aurora) because I use mine for gaming (and work). I only buy a new PC after a number of years. Could it be that people who buy PCs are buying high end PCs more, and thus the turnover rate is lower? Tablets can pretty much replace low end PCs.

This is easily explainable by a single thing and yes, it has to do with how GOOD Windows 8 is and how GOOD Windows 7 was. As alluded to above in several comments, many users chose to UPGRADE their OS rather than getting a new PC. Why did they do that? Familiarity with their current hardware, the fact that hardware last a bit longer and hard drives are more robust, and finally... Those who upgraded from Vista to 7 or from 7 to 8 saw speed BOOSTS on the same older hardware. Now, remember how Microsoft made it dirt cheap to upgrade to Windows 8? Perhaps anticipating that if they were going to exercise "tough love" and move people's "comfort zone" to a touch-enabled OS, they were going to have to made it easier on their wallets and thus a compelling value. That alone made users abandon the traditional model of getting a new PC every two years or so.

Now, though that type of thinking would make a hardware company like Apple wake up in a cold sweat... It suits Microsoft's plans quite well as a software and cloud company. Quite well indeed. ;-)

Interestingly, this sounds like why MS wants to be a "services" company, to make up for the losses from people upgrading old hardware instead of buying new stuff. Of course, this doesn't help OEMs at all.

You can't fight progress. Game's over. Writing is on the wall. Choose your lame cliche. There will continue to be a medium-term market for PCs in business, and for certain users (25%?) who want the full computing experience, like myself. Nobody else cares. Make peace with it.
 
 

The PC is a mature market, for normal use even a 5 year old pc does the job. However people are upgrading to tablets for normal use, here lies the problem. IDC will have to include tablets running windows in their stats.

Completely agree with this and other comments here. What IDC is calling a "PC" is actually just a form factor that won't and shouldn't be "rescued" by Windows8. Rather, Windows 8 will be transformative and usher in a new way to use computers/software and tablets are at the center of that. Its not hard to imagine, in the near future, a "Surface 3" with an 8gb cpu, 256gb ssd AND all day battery life. I'd guess sales of such a device would be brisk.

A tech exec somewhere said Windows 8 wasn't finished. He was right to some extent. After using Win8 for over a year now, I can say there are some annoyances that could have been handled better. I always believed having a touch (metro) and desktop (start button) mode switcher would have worked best; or selling two versions one with touch and one without would have saw greater acceptance. I never use metro on my desktop despite my concerted efforts to do so. This world of MS unfinished products is not a good one. Thy should lock all their designers and programmers in a room for a year and get this stuff done on Win8, Surface and WP8.

Corporates usually wait for Service Pack 1 to come out before upgrading to a new Windows OS. The 4th quarter of 2013 will be a really measure of how well or bad Windows 8 is being adopted!!!!. 

Well opf course PC sales are declining- if only desktops are considered.  Talk about an obvious statement.  Did anyone seriously think the rise of the tablet market would be totally incremental to sale volumes????
 
Also this says nothing about Windows 8.  I upgraded my PC to Windows 8 - I didnt buy a new one.
 
A useful measure would be the total consumer spend on personal computing hardware and operating software.
 
This just strikes me as a ridiculous attack on Microsoft - made clear by the wholly pathetic reference to the old and completely useless start button.
 
 

Yeah, this start button thing is just crazy; move on people. Its a new OS, not Windows 7.x. I will say that the start screen needs to add the same functionality by being able to customize the options on the charms bar or the swipe up/right click action. That may please some people but just like XP, Windows 7 and its start button will reach immortality.

Windows 8/9 are going to delude the term "PC" to the point where it should have been a long time ago.. tablets are PCs, smartphones are PCs.. they are all personal computing devices.
What they are calling for is the "death" of the traditional laptom form factor..

Windows 8 is horrible and Steve is burning customers and partners left and right, BUT, I think Intel, AMD, and nVidia are more to blame for the decline in PC sales ... and let's not forget the guys actually selling PC's.
AMD and Intel has grown stagnant in their speed increases and completely muddled chip market with their horrible product names. A8 and i7, these don't mean anything to your average customer and even the die-hards will struggle to determine if a new PC actually offers any increased performance. There's really no connection between the naming of the chips and their relative number of cores or clock speeds. It was much simpler with the Pentium 1, 2, 3... and 166mhz, 400mhz, 1.0ghz, .... People still think this way, just look at the android phone wars; this year we're going to see phones jumping up to 8 cores, no to mention the race in # of cores for their graphics accelerators.
That brings us to nVidia and AMD on the graphics front, both have decided that their current cards are selling well enough, so they're holding back on releasing their next generation. Both seem to have their pet projects that have become a bigger focus, AMD's currently looking at gaming consoles while nVidia is focused on phones and tablets, keeping their PC graphics cards as cash cows.
The last step in the chain are the PC makers, Dell, Sony, HP, Acer, etc... I don't even know where to start with these guys, they all deserve to go bankrupt. While Intel has gotten fat and slow with the decline of it's PC chip competitors, the PC makers have actually regressed. The form factor hasn't changed in 20+ years, screen resolutions have dropped, not increased, the touchpads have gotten worse for productivity, ... 
So while Microsoft has forgotten that PC's are about getting things done, the sales end seems to have dried up because the hardware guys have forgotten about how to keep the upgrades going. Windows 8 is truly aweful and I wouldn't recommend it to anyone I don't utterly hate, but if you're pointing fingers, it would be best to start looking at the guys who waited around for Windows 8 to save them.

Ya, there's the gold standard for a well thought out comment. Thanks for contributing to the discussion.

Your post got what it deserved.  In your opinion W8 is horrible, but that does not mean it is. 
I personally find W8 to be superb in most regards and much better than W7 or IOS or Linux OS's.  So far I have not heard of a single rational explanation anywhere as to why W8 is 'horrible'.

Who's the troll ? I've been working in IT for almost 20 years. The hardware industry in the 90's was a non-stop race.

imo, its lack of compelling touch products. that and the products that are out there arent in local electronics store. In order for me to get a surface or a samsung ative pro o had to drive to a MS store 2 hre away. Thata not what pc buyers are used to. In addition, try to find a 1080 p touchscreen hybrid,laptop or tablet in a store. Acer has a ultrabook ,actually 3 different versions of them, that are lightwr and thinner and faster than a macair.....but unlike the mac cant be found in a store. Either supply for screens is low or the oems werent ready for a touch based pc. Maybe a bit of both.

PCs last longer.  That's a huge factor.  I know tablets do cut into sales but a PC is the true workhorse if you want to get actual work done.

I am writing this from a windows 8. Very simple stuff Microsoff if you are reading this:
1. Stop making the scroll bar dissappear or making difficult to Spot in Metro on Desktop mode. I find it ridiculous, that microsoft decided to hide the scroll bar from all windows in Metro! I am using windows. Microsoft taught UI design to everyone, go back to basis, don't make our life difficult becuase you think doing this way makes the PC funky!
2. Give the option to users to use the desktop only (especially since you decided that life for mouse users should be made difficult) maybe need bring back the Start menu. I use windows cause I like choices not because I don't like choices, so make choices possible. What was wrong with having start screen button which may take you back to the main touch screen. Also, how do you expect users to know that if they start typing they will automatically search in start screen? how about a simple search field at the top.
3. Stop changing things only for change, why should something change if it doesn't make PC life easier. The dificult to spot scrollbar is a very good example. 
Saying this Metro is perfectly fine for anyone with a touch screen and my 70 year old neighbour is happy using her touch screen laptop, which I recommended cause I knew touch screen is the way to go with windows 8 and she would struggle without it.

Moore's Law isn't being challenged anymore, I've had my desktop for five years now. I may drop in some memory other than that...it runs perfectly fine. Windows 8 is efficent and fast as heck on it. Since I didn't have a touch screen I added a Logitech touchpad, it makes all the difference in the world and the experience is far better than using a mouse and actually IMHO a much better option than a desktop touchscreen. I just bought a Ultrabook with a touchscreen for work and it is pretty amazing, that all being said I realize I am in the minority of loving Windows 8. I am a big fan.
I also understand why it's adoption has been stagnant or met with disdain, it's different and people don't like change. Under the hood (and the Start Screen people love to hate) is a much more streamlined OS that is far better than Windows 7. It's getting people to change and adopt new ways of using a PC that poses the biggest problem...I'll admit (I've been a PC guy since Dos 3.0) I had some issues with Windows 8 at first. It was a learning curve, however now that I know what I'm doing, I have a hard time using anything but Windows 8.
That all being said, It's no doubt tablets are killing PC's I completely get it. However, I only use my 7" tablet for reading books, news, and some quick games before I goto bed. I'm a PC user and I always will be.

Does the IDC's definition include Apple's desktops, airbooks, macbooks as well as Google's chrome book?  IF it does, then why does it seem like Microsoft is the only one blamed for the downslide. 
Also, is it really the case that tablets are killing PCs or is it the case that tablets are beginning to supplement to it. Since tablets are fairly new everyone who has a PC now also wants to get a tablet but they're not abandoning their PCs.   After a few cycles, wouldn't people stop purchasing new tablets if they already have an existing tablet.   If people are constantly buying new PCs or even new tablets with each new iteration because the old one broke down or because it couldn't be upgraded/updated shouldn't that be a sign of a truely bad original/prior product?  And YES, I feel each generation of the iPad/iPhone release is rediculous for existing customers, but as long as there are sheeps to be had then good for Apple.
 

Why buy an iPad with each iteration? That doesn't make any sense as well as an iPhone. On the contrary, I do have a Windows Phone and I was a bit displeased it wouldn't be able to upgrade to 8. Since T-Mo doesn't carry any "heavyweight" Windows 8 phones I'm waiting...there is no need to replace a quasi-decent phone at the moment...although I understand they are getting a very killer Nokia handset this summer...then I will upgrade.
I think the industry as a whole is becoming over saturated and that's where were seeing the decline. Nothing new for 6 years has really come out aside from the heavily panned Windows which IMHO is a great mobile OS. iOS has not changed since day one and Android is so fragmented on tablets it's scary. PC's as I explained above aren't affected by Moore's Law anymore so it's changing the PC landscape as far as upgrading goes. I can upgrade mine much cheaper than buying new.
 

I just wish Microsoft would release a more competitvely priced tablet, something to compete against the £200 android offerings
 
They are missing a trick here, the surface is great but too expensive for Joe Bloggs.
 
Come on Microsoft this is one of the biggest growing markets and you guys are missing out!!

I am waiting for the Surface Pro to be released in Australia... although I should probably just buy one from the Unied States considering the Australian Dollar is worth $1.05 USD, meaning I would get it cheaper by importing :-)