IDC: PC Sales Slowing, Tablets Getting Stronger

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PC sales have been slower than expected during the first quarter, partially due to the timing of the Chinese New Year but also because of government IT budget cuts and anti-corruption measures, according to research firm IDC.

Slow PC sales in February are expected to impact global PC shipments in March as well, leading IDC to lower its initial first-quarter PC shipment forecast by 2 percent, according to the firm's Monthly PC Tracker.

"Based on our latest quarterly figures, global PC shipments were expected to decline by 7.7 percent in the first quarter as vendors and the supply chain work through the Windows 8 transition," said Loren Loverde, program vice president of Worldwide PC Trackers at IDC, in a statement. "However, our February monthly data suggest that we could see a drop touching double digits in the first quarter and a mid-single-digit decline in the second quarter before we see any recovery in the second half of the year. Even getting to positive growth in the second half of 2013 will take some attractive new PC designs and more competitive pricing relative to tablets and other products."

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Meanwhile, the outlook for tablets is better, according to IDC. Last week, the firm increased its forecast for worldwide tablet purchases in 2013 to 190.9 million, up from its previous forecast of 172.4 million units, according to IDC.

Android continues to expand its tablet market share, with an expected 48.8 percent of total share for 2013, compared with Apple's iPad running iOS with 46.0 percent share. But IDC expects Windows to gain share over the next four years, predicting a 48.8 percent compounded annual growth rate from 2013 through 2017.

Microsoft's Windows should garner 7.4 percent of share by 2017, up from 2.8 percent this year. The Windows RT version tablets should see share increase to 2.7 percent in 2017 from 1.9 percent in 2013, according to IDC.

Still, not all is rosy in Windows Land, according to IDC. "Microsoft's decision to push two different tablet operating systems, Windows 8 and Windows RT, has yielded poor results in the market so far," said Tom Mainelli, IDC's research director for tablets. "Consumers aren't buying Windows RT's value proposition, and long term we think Microsoft and its partners would be better served by focusing their attention on improving Windows 8. Such a focus could drive better share growth in the tablet category down the road."

Overall, IDC expects tablet shipments to increase 16.6 percent over the next four years.


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