For around two years now, the PC market has been in decline. Quarter after quarter PC manufacturers have, as a whole, reported lower shipments and decreasing sales.
During the final holiday quarter of 2013 PC shipments once again declined as consumers moved toward inexpensive tablets and other mobile devices. Only Chromebooks seem to have caught on with consumers, leaving a bit of hope that manufacturers can find sales through inexpensive, ultramobile notebooks.
Market research firm Gartner has also weighed in with some mixed news for the PC industry. While the firm confirms yet another quarter of decline for the industry (shipments down nearly 7% to just 82.6 million units), it is also predicting that the worst may be over for PC and notebook manufacturers.
Gartner believes the tablet and smartphone segments in established markets such as the U.S. could soon become saturated, allowing PC manufacturers to challenge mobile devices with a combination of new features and lower prices. The downside to this is that consumers in emerging markets, where much of the consumer device market's growth will come over the next few years, may pass over PCs entirely in favor of mobile devices such as tablets and smartphones.
"Although PC shipments continued to decline in the worldwide market in the fourth quarter, we increasingly believe markets, such as the U.S., have bottomed out as the adjustment to the installed base slows," said Mikako Kitagawa, principal analyst at Gartner. "Strong growth in tablets continued to negatively impact PC growth in emerging markets. In emerging markets, the first connected device for consumers is most likely a smartphone, and their first computing device is a tablet. As a result, the adoption of PCs in emerging markets will be slower as consumers skip PCs for tablets."