PC shipments remain weak through 2012
By Henry Leineweber, Resource Recycling
Despite the growing hype surrounding Microsoft's redesigned Windows operating system, to be released this fall, PC growth projections are stalling, according to the latest market research data.
International Data Corp. expects worldwide PC growth for 2012 to be approximately five percent, with emerging markets accounting for most of the sales increase. Desktop sales are actually expected to grow in the emerging market, from nearly 99 million units in 2011 to 112 million units by 2016 — defying a trend of slow decline in mature markets. Laptops and portable PCs are expected to continue to grow in all markets, although again, emerging markets account for the lion's share of growth. Mature market portable PC growth is expected to increase from 99 million units annually to 149 million units by 2016, however the category in emerging markets is expected to nearly double to 214 million units by 2016. Ultrabooks and thin and light laptops are expected to be the primary drivers of growth over the next several years.
IDC attributes the low growth rate in the desktop PC sector to several factors. Tablet competition is not cannibalizing PC sales as much as previously thought, with consumers increasingly viewing iPads and Android tablets as either secondary devices and serving different price points and markets than PCs. Instead, persistent uncertainty over the economy and growing fears of a double-dip recession have caused consumers and enterprise customers to delay purchases of new PCs. Additionally, there is the specter of Windows 8, which promises a radically redesigned interface and encourages the use of touch-capable hardware to fully take advantage of new features. Microsoft's new operating system is not expected to hit store shelves until the holiday buying season.
Market research firm Gartner has gone as far as to dramatically lower its outlook for PC shipments through the end of 2012 according to leaked forecasts reported in GeekWire. The market research firm now expects PC shipments to only grow 0.9 percent this year, versus the earlier expectation of 4.4 percent growth. After the release of Windows 8 this holiday season, Gartner expects shipments of new units to pick back up, growing at approximately 11 percent annually.