PC Market Will Contract 10.1% In 2013, 3.8% In 2014, And Bottom Out North Of 300M Yearly Units

Today IDC released its forecasts for the global PC market, estimating that 2013 sales will fall 10.1 percent, which is a slightly higher than the 9.7 percent the firm had previously anticipated.

The PC market has had a year of historically bad proportions. That in mind, IDC does expect PCs to fare better in 2014, with a contraction of 3.8 estimated. That’s the bottom of the curve, however, as IDC expects sales rates to become “slightly positive in the longer term.” Following its predictions, PC sales should not fall below the 300-million mark on a yearly basis.

That’s good news for Microsoft, as it works to drive its Windows 8.x operating system into the homes of consumers and corporate clients – the more PCs it sells running its new operating system, the more downloads that the Windows Store will see, helping the software company pitch its platform to yet reticent developers.

PC usage remains strong, with IDC noting that, in terms of hours spent, phones can’t match the workplace utility of a personal computer. However, there is low market appetite to replace aging systems, something that has likely annoyed Microsoft as it seeks to reform the Windows operating system.

With sales predicted to hover around 300 million, PCs will continue to sell around 25 million units per month, or 75 million per quarter around the world. In 2012, for reference, almost 350 million PCs were sold. Still, the 300 million minimum threshold – which IDC predicts at least into 2017 – will provide a floor for the larger players in the PC market: Microsoft, Intel, Dell, and so forth.

So in many ways, we are post-PC, but as emerging markets continue to purchase PCs at quick paces, the market appears almost stable.

It is sometimes assumed, incorrectly (I was guilty of this, I must admit), that the PC market is on a decline without end, that it will continue to contract until it all but dries up and blows away. Apparently not. 300 million is a lower floor than many wanted, but it is more than enough units to support the larger PC ecosystem.

The corporate PC market is making up for, at least partially, larger losses in consumer PC demand. For 2013, IDC expects the commercial market for PCs to fall 5 percent. Consumer sales are to slip 15 percent. So we’re seeing upgrade cycles to Windows 7, likely from companies moving from Windows XP, provide ecosystem stability.

Microsoft’s Windows 8.x operating system is aimed at changing consumer and, yes, enterprise demands. If it can find market resonance, perhaps the PC market will recover more quickly than expected. This year will remain a black mark on the world of PCs, however, no matter how well December fares.

PCs: Not dead, but just not as popular as before.

Top Image Credit: Flickr