Ups And Downs: Tablets To Eclipse PCs By 2015, IDC Predicts

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The bad news for the PC industry just keeps on coming.

IDC Tuesday released its updated forecast for worldwide PC shipments, and the numbers are even worse than before. The research firm now predicts that PC shipments will drop 7.8 percent, nearly double the decrease of its previous prediction of 4.3 percent.

Meanwhile, IDC upped its tablet forecast and now predicts that tablet shipments will surpass portable PC shipments this year as well. Previously, IDC predicted that tablets would surpass desktop shipments this year and portable PC shipments in 2014. That time table now has been moved up.

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Tablet shipments worldwide are now expected to grow 58.7 percent year over year to reach 229 million units (IDC had previously forecast a 48 percent increase with 190 million units shipped). The new forecast, IDC said, is based on a shift in PC buying trends as more users delay new PC purchases or are using tablets and smartphones to handle their computing needs.

"What started as a sign of tough economic times has quickly shifted to a change in the global computing paradigm with mobile being the primary benefactor," said Ryan Reith, program manager for IDC's Mobility Trackers, in a statement. "Tablets surpassing portables in 2013, and total PCs in 2015, marks a significant change in consumer attitudes about compute devices and the applications and ecosystems that power them."

In addition, IDC reported that tablet shipments will outpace all PC shipments -- portables and desktops -- by 2015. The growth is being driven by lower average selling prices for tablets ($381 to $635 for PCs, according to IDC) and smaller, low-cost Android devices.

As for PCs, IDC said it expects to see some replacement purchases in 2014, specifically in the commercial market as businesses finally upgrade from Windows XP (support for the OS officially ends next April). But the research firm also said it expects those upgrade purchases to have less of an overall impact on market growth than previous upgrade cycles.

Solution providers are taking note of the changing headwinds. Velocity Micro, a high-end PC system builder based in Richmond, Va., started making its own tablets in 2010 and has recently seen sales increase around its low-cost Android tablets priced between $150 and $200.

"We're seeing good entry-level demand for those devices," said Josh Covington, marketing director at Velocity Micro. "We feel like it's a really strong market right now."


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