IDC Lowers 2011 PC Sales Forecast After Sluggish Q2

Due to lower than expected shipments of PCs last quarter, IDC researchers have reined in their predictions for 2011 PC sales. 

Shipments of PCs for the second quarter grew only 2.7 percent, compared with the forecast 2.9 percent, IDC said Tuesday. Accordingly, IDC lowered its forecast for the rest of 2011 to just 2.8 percent growth, down from its previous projection of 4.2 percent.

While PC shipments are expected to pick up next year, IDC lowered its 2012 forecast from 10.2 percent to 9.3 percent growth. From 2013 to 2015, IDC is forecasting 11 percent growth. 

The economy, saturation in mature markets and competition from smartphones and tablet PCs are to blame for the slowdown in sales, the analyst firm said.

Mobile Internet usage will grow at a compounded annual rate of 16.6 percent between 2010 and 2015, IDC is forecasting. "Soon, more users will access the Web using mobile devices than using PCs, and it's going to make the Internet a very different place," said IDC research VP Karsten Weide in a statement.

Also throwing a curveball into the PC market was Hewlett-Packard Co.'s announcement last month that it is considering the sale or spinoff of its PC business. "The proposed spin-off of HP's PC business has also contributed to uncertainty in the market as the channel and corporate users re-evaluate their next steps," said IDC senior research analyst Jay Chou in a statement.

Last month, Gartner also drastically lowered its PC growth expectations for this year, from a 9.3 percent increase to a mere 3.8 percent jump, totaling 364 million units. Like IDC, Gartner says PC unit growth will be better next year, though it is forecasting a 10.9 percent increase (or 404 million units), which is lower than the 12.8 percent growth previously forecast for 2012.

"Media tablets have dramatically changed the dynamic of the PC market and HP's decision to rethink its PC strategy simply highlights the pressure that PC vendors are under to adapt to the new dynamic or abandon the market," said Gartner research director George Shiffler in a statement.

Indeed, customers are thinking twice about buying PCs from HP, given the uncertainty around the business, and that's slowing down PC sales cycles. Terry Hedden, CEO of Infinity Technology Solutions in Tampa, Fla., said his customers are definitely skittish about buying HP PCs.

"They're asking questions like, 'What do you guys think is going to happen?' And we're just expressing confidence in the products and the likelihood that the product will continue to exist much like the ThinkPad did when Lenovo purchased it from IBM," Hedden said.

About the Author

Jeffrey Schwartz is editor of Redmond magazine and also covers cloud computing for Virtualization Review's Cloud Report. In addition, he writes the Channeling the Cloud column for Redmond Channel Partner. Follow him on Twitter @JeffreySchwartz.