IDC: personal computer shipments will decline 7.3% this year

Worldwide PC (as in personal computers, not just Windows systems) shipments are forecast to decline by 7.3% year -over-year in 2016 according to an updated forecast from the International Data Corporation (IDC) Worldwide Quarterly PC Tracker. The outlook continues to call for progressively smaller declines through 2017 followed by stable volume in 2018. 

However, growth in 2016 is now expected to be roughly 2% below earlier projections as conditions have been weaker than expected, according to IDC. Growth in the first quarter of 2016 (1Q16) came in at -12.5%, just below the research group’s forecast of -11.3%, and inhibitors such as weak currencies, depressed commodity prices, political uncertainty, and delayed projects continue to constrain shipments.

Although growth rates for devices such as phones and tablets continue to fall, potentially reducing the competitive pressure on PCs, IDC hasn’t seen this translate into stronger PC shipments. The financial pressure on consumers across regions, and the availability of alternatives such as delaying a PC replacement by using a free Windows 10 upgrade or relying more on other devices continues to pressure consumer PC shipments. Similarly, while a large share of enterprises are evaluating Windows 10, the pace of new PC purchases has not yet stabilized commercial PC shipments.

Detachable tablets (which IDC considers the iPad Pro) also present a growing challenge as specs and price increasingly compare favorably against notebook PCs. Combining detachable tablets with PCs, the market is projected to decline by just over 2% in 2016 with small positive growth in later years, though still falling well short of peak shipments.

"The latest update reflects continuing pressure on PC shipments, but does not significantly change the factors driving the market," says Loren Loverde, vice president, Worldwide Tracker Forecasting and PC research. "In addition, we have now had four consecutive quarters of double-digit volume declines. This type of prolonged slump is unprecedented, and lowers the bar for some improvement going forward. Unfortunately, the PC market still faces some persistent challenges, and for now, improvement continues to mean slower declines.”

Jay Chou, research manager, Worldwide PC Tracker, adds: ”Although inventory has improved in some markets, channels remain extremely conservative. The economic and competitive pressures are particularly affecting the consumer segment, which is projected to see another year of double-digit declines in 2016, and decline throughout the forecast. In contrast, commercial shipments are projected to decline just 4.4% in 2016 and see slightly positive growth for the next few years.”