PC shipments shrink at record rate

CONCERNING::IDC’s research director said the reduction in PC shipments was not a surprise, but the magnitude of the contraction is both unexpected and worrying

By Helen Ku  /  Staff reporter

Fri, Apr 12, 2013 - Page 13

Global PC shipments suffered their biggest-ever contraction last quarter, despite the launch of several products based on Microsoft’s Windows 8 operating system, US-based research house International Data Corp (IDC) said yesterday.

In its latest report, IDC said global PC shipments declined 13.9 percent to 76.3 million units in the first three months of the year, from 88.6 million the previous year, the fourth consecutive quarter of year-on-year shipment declines and the steepest quarterly decline since 1994.

The report showed declines across all regions on an annual basis.

“At this point, unfortunately, it seems clear that the Windows 8 launch not only failed to provide a positive boost to the PC market, but it appears to have slowed the market,” IDC vice president Bob O’Donnell said in the report.

O’Donnell said PCs had become a less attractive alternative to tablets and other mobile devices because of the new operating system’s radical changes to the user interface and the removal of the familiar “Start” button, as well as the rising costs associated with touch facilities.

“Microsoft will have to make some very tough decisions moving forward if it wants to help reinvigorate the PC market,” he said.

IDC research director David Daoud said the reduction in PC shipments last quarter was not a surprise due to the declining attraction of PCs for consumers, but the magnitude of the contraction is both unexpected and worrying.

In a separate report issued yesterday, another US-based research firm, Gartner Inc, said that global PC shipments in the last quarter had dropped to their lowest level since the second quarter of 2009, contracting 11.2 percent to 79.2 million units last quarter from 89.2 million the previous year.

“Consumers are migrating content consumption from PCs to other connected devices, such as tablets and smartphones. Even emerging markets, where PC penetration is low, are not expected to be a strong growth area for PC vendors,” Gartner analyst Mikako Kitagawa said in a statement.

Combined shipments in Europe, the Middle East and Africa fell for the third consecutive quarter to 23.3 million last quarter, a 16 percent decline year-on-year and the biggest-ever decline since Gartner began tracking the region, the report said.

Taipei Computer Association (TCA, 台北市電腦公會) secretary-general Enoch Du (杜全昌) yesterday said the world is witnessing a dramatic change in technologies that enable everyone to access the Internet through a variety of devices other than PCs.

In addition, cloud computing technologies and mobile devices are fundamentally changing people’s lives, which will lead to more applications and integration of hardware and software in the future, Du said at a pre-show press conference for the Spring Computer Fair.

Up to 200 firms are to exhibit products at 1,100 booths at the Taipei World Trade Center from Wednesday next week to April 21.

The association forecast that the fair would attract more than 400,000 visitors, adding that smartphone vendor HTC Corp (宏達電) would be at the fair to promote its flagship products.