IDC: personal computing device market predicted to continue its decline

According to a new IDC forecast, Worldwide Quarterly Personal Computing Device Tracker, global shipments of personal computing devices (PCDs), comprised of traditional PCs (a combination of desktop, notebook, and workstations) and tablets (slates and detachables), are expected to continue a slight decline through 2021. 

The results show PCD shipments declining from 435.1 million units in 2016 to 398.3 million in 2021, which represents a five-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of -1.7%, according to the research group. While growth for the overall PCD market is not expected at any point in the forecast, there are a few interesting trends that continue to develop, according to IDC. Apart from 2018, notebooks show small but steady year-over-year growth throughout the forecast, which is good news for the MacBook Pro and MacBook. 

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Detachable tablets and convertible notebooks, which represent newer more versatile designs, will be the fastest growing segments in PCD with a 5-year CAGR of over 14%, which is good news for the iPad line. Ultraslim notebooks are also expected to continue to grow quickly, with a CAGR of 11.8% through 2021. The other relative bright spot in the forecast is the commercial segment, which stabilizes in 2017 and shows growth in 2019 and beyond.

"Looking at the PCD market collectively can be challenging because of all the different product category trends that are unfolding," said Ryan Reith, program vice president with IDC's “Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Device Trackers.” "When looking at tablets we continue to expect that category to decline as the appeal of slate devices diminishes and life cycles for these devices look more like those of PCs 4-5 years ago. Detachable tablets will continue to grow, but we've reduced the short-term forecast on the assumption that original equipment manufacturers are making a slower transition from notebook PCs to detachables than previously expected.”

The traditional PC market continues a steady transition to newer slim and convertible designs," adds Loren Loverde, vice president with IDC's Worldwide Personal Computing Device Tracker and Tracker Forecasting. "Nevertheless, commercial and particularly consumer users continue to stretch the life of older PCs – constraining their spending and spreading usage across a portfolio of devices,” he adds. “Shipments could pick up if accelerators like economic conditions, adoption of gaming, VR, and Windows 10 speed up, but even in the best case, overall growth would likely remain limited."