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IDC: After Rough 2013, PC Growth To Flatten Through 2018

After having "the most severe contraction on record" in 2013, the worldwide PC market is expected to remain mostly stagnant over the next four years, according to IDC.

Data released Tuesday by the research firm indicates PC shipments fell by nearly 10 percent last year. The fourth quarter showed some improvement, but IDC attributed that to "short-term factors like a slight rise in XP replacements" and does not expect that momentum to last.

In 2014, PC shipments are expected to drop by another 6 percent to hit 296 million, and then remain at roughly the same level through 2018, when an estimated 292 million PCs are expected to ship.

Even in emerging markets, where technology shipments are typically unhindered by market saturation, PC growth is expected to be at "near zero percent," said Loren Loverde, vice president of Worldwide PC Trackers at IDC. The firm pointed to weak economic environments, political instability in some regions, and growing demand for smartphones and tablets as reasons for the lack of PC growth in emerging markets.

In stark contrast to the PC market's dismal 2013, tablet shipments ballooned last year, according to a separate report released this week by research firm Gartner.

Worldwide shipments of tablet devices experienced a 68 percent year-over-year growth in 2013, Gartner said on Monday, totaling 195 million units. Shipments to emerging markets jumped by 145 percent, and in mature markets by 31 percent. One caveat: Gartner does not consider tablets to be a single category of device. Rather, they fall under Gartner's "ultramobile" category, which also includes hybrids and clamshells. However, tablets accounted for the vast majority of ultramobile shipments in 2013 (90 percent), according to Gartner.

Android-based tablets led the market in 2013 with 62 percent market share, benefiting from growing demand for smaller, lower-end devices. Apple iOS tablets fell to No. 2 with 36 percent of the market. Windows-based tablets were a distant third, with a market share of just 2 percent.

About the Author

Gladys Rama (@GladysRama3) is the editor of Redmondmag.com, RCPmag.com and AWSInsider.net, and the editorial director of Converge360.

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