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

Sam Sabri