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PC shipments see biggest drop in almost 20 years

According to IDC, PC shipments have posted a record decline in Q1 2013. The year-on-year contraction was the worst the research company has seen in its near twenty-year history of quarterly tracking the PC market.

Though worldwide PC shipments have been declining for four quarters in a row, in the first quarter of 2013 (1Q13) the market exhibited its steepest decline in nearly 20 years. According to the International Data Corporation (IDC), PC shipments were down -13.9% compared to 1Q12. The numbers come as a shock as the research firm had forecast a decline of -7.7%, falling short by nearly 50% of the real numbers.

"Although the reduction in shipments was not a surprise, the magnitude of the contraction is both surprising and worrisome," said David Daoud, IDC Research Director, Personal Computing.

The research firm is placing at least part of the blame on Microsoft’s Windows 8 and the operating system’s tepid reception by customers. As far as IDC is concerned, not only did Windows 8 fail to provide a boost in PC shipments, it seems to have had a negative effect on the market. Most notably to blame apparently are the fundamental changes to the user interface, lack of the iconic Windows Start button, as well as extra costs incurred by the addition of touch capabilities. Coupled with the fact that consumer attention is focusing on smartphones and tablets, the PC is seemingly becoming a less attractive purchase.

IDC is also assigning Intel’s ultrabooks a portion of the blame in regards to declining PC shipments. High prices and component supply issues are allegedly the most noteworthy reasons for poor consumer adoption. Meanwhile former netbook users are assumed to have migrated to tablets, thus taking another bite out of potential PC sales.

Worth noting is that of the top five vendors in both the U.S. and worldwide, Lenovo was the only company to avoid dipping in the red when it came to PC shipments. Although the world’s second largest PC vendor posted 0% growth globally year-on-year, Lenovo managed to ship 13% more PCs in the U.S.


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Alex Storey, 2013-04-11 (Update: 2013-04-12)