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PCs getting smashed by tablets

Allan Swann
January 11, 2013

The PC market is continuing to flatline as tablet and smartphone sales climb.

PC shipment worldwide totaled 89.8m units in the fourth quarter of 2012, down 6.4% compared to the same time last year and worse than the 4.4% forecasted by research firm IDC.

Microsoft’s attempt to arrest the decline in sales of its Windows offerings have not been tempered by the release of Windows 8 – which is a tablet centric operating system. The Microsoft Surface, the company’s first attempt to enter the hardware space in more than 20 years – has not been received well (see What Mobile’s review here) and as a result has not sold as well as expected – despite a huge marketing push.

This is the first time in five years that PC sales have seen a year on year decline during the holiday season.

“Although the third quarter was focused on the clearing of Windows 7 inventory, preliminary research indicates the clearance did not significantly boost the uptake of Windows 8 systems in Q4,” said Jay Chou, senior research analyst with IDC’s Worldwide Quarterly PC Tracker.

“Lost in the shuffle to promote a touch-centric PC, vendors have not forcefully stressed other features that promote a more secure, reliable and efficient user experience. As Windows 8 matures, and other corresponding variables such as Ultrabook pricing continue to drop, hopefully the PC market can see a reset in both messaging and demand in 2013.”

Europe, the Middle East and Asia performed in line with expectations – that is, badly – with shipments declining at single-digit rates when compared to a year ago.

IDC believes that the sell-in of Windows 8 systems was accelerating by early December, but as a whole “consumers continued to shun PC purchases in favor of attractively priced tablets and smartphones, particularly during the end-of-year Christmas season.”

Only Lenovo and ASUS managed to increase PC market share.

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