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IDC Downbeat on Windows 8's Effect on PC Market

IDC this week downgraded its forecast for worldwide PC shipments over the next four years.

The analyst firm expects PC shipments worldwide to grow at a compound annual rate of 7.1 percent between 2013 and 2016, down from the 8.4 percent annual growth it had previously projected for the period between 2012 and 2016. In 2012, the worldwide PC market is expected "to grow just 0.9%," IDC said in its announcement on Thursday.

According to IDC's measurements, the PC market includes "desktop PCs" and "portable PCs." Excluded from their calculations were tablets and handheld devices, such as Android devices and Apple iPads.

IDC expects to see nearly flat global desktop PC growth over the forecast period. Desktop PCs had a -1.4 percent growth rate in 2011, but that figure will bump up to 0.7 percent in 2016, analysts predict.

Better growth is expected for the worldwide portable PC market. In 2011, worldwide portable PC growth was 4.1 percent. It's expected to hit 11.0 percent in 2016.

In terms of the number of units shipped over this same period, there will be more portable PCs going out compared with desktop PCs. IDC expects to see worldwide portable PC shipments grow from 209.1 million units in 2011 to 321.1 million units in 2016. In contrast, worldwide desktop PC shipments are expected to grow from 154.8 million units to 162.0 million units.

IDC's figures were derived from its August "Worldwide Quarterly PC Tracker" research. Despite some indications of growth, IDC analysts see a dampening trend due to slowing economies. Not even Microsoft's product launch of Windows 8, expected on October 26, will stave off the forecasted decline in the U.S. market, with overall PC shipments expected to decrease 3.7 percent by year's end, according to IDC.

"The U.S. market will remain depressed until Windows 8 products hit the shelves in the fourth quarter of 2012," stated David Daoud, research director of personal computing at IDC, in a released statement. "The industry is responding by reducing shipments of PCs and clearing Windows 7-based inventories to pave the way for a new generation of systems. But, as we move into the tail end of the third quarter, PC activity will continue to slow as demand drops."

Growth prospects for PC sales are to be found in the so-called "emerging markets," especially for portable PCs. IDC defines emerging markets as Asia and the Pacific (minus Japan), plus Africa, the Middle East, Central and Eastern Europe, and Latin America. But Windows 8 could still trip up growth prospects, even there, according to Jay Chou, senior research analyst with IDC's Worldwide Quarterly PC Tracker.

"Factors such as Windows 8 coupled with Ultrabooks could present a positive turn of events next year, but it also faces some initial hurdles; chief of which is that buyers must acclimate themselves to an operating system that is a dramatic departure from existing PC paradigms," Chou stated, according to a press release.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.

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