PC Sales Declined During Last Year's Holiday Season


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A new report issued this week by International Data Corporation (IDC) shows that worldwide PC shipments during the fourth quarter of 2012 actually declined, down 6.4% from 2011. The 89.8 million units were less than even the predicted decline of 4.4%. This is is spite of the launch of Windows 8 and the accompanying products from companies such as HP, Asus, and Microsoft itself.

"Although the third quarter was focused on the clearing of Windows 7 inventory, preliminary research indicates the clearance did not significantly boost the uptake of Windows 8 systems in Q4," said Jay Chou, senior research analyst with IDC's Worldwide Quarterly PC Tracker. "Lost in the shuffle to promote a touch-centric PC, vendors have not forcefully stressed other features that promote a more secure, reliable and efficient user experience. As Windows 8 matures, and other corresponding variables such as Ultrabook pricing continue to drop, hopefully the PC market can see a reset in both messaging and demand in 2013."

The U.S. market in particular took a big hit, dropping 7% compared to holiday 2011. IDC blames the drop on the failure of imagination manufacturers had towards what a good Windows 8 experience would be. However, this could simply be the beginning of the post-PC world that Apple and Microsoft are predicting.

"Consumers expected all sorts of cool PCs with tablet and touch capabilities," said David Daoud, research director at IDC U.S. Quarterly PC Tracker. "Instead, they mostly saw traditional PCs that feature a new OS (Windows 8 ) optimized for touch and tablet with applications and hardware that are not yet able to fully utilize these capabilities. Despite a generally weak performance, some leading brands managed do to well relative to the market. HP, Lenovo, Asus, and Samsung were among the top performers, taking advantage of some consumer interest in Windows 8, and a push to build up their presence ahead of 2013."

Despite its recent write-downs and accusations of accounting fraud at Autonomy before its acquisition, HP continues to rank highest on IDC worldwide PC shipment rankings. HP seized on this bit of good news, highlighting the fact that the IDC rankings include the workstation segment rather than just the consumer market. From HP:

IDC announced today that HP maintained the No. 1 position in PC shipments worldwide and in the United States. The IDC analysis also includes the very important workstation segment and therefore represents the most comprehensive analysis of the entire PC market.

We believe HP’s position as the market share leader demonstrates our ongoing commitment to deliver superior PC products and experiences across customer segments.

Meanwhile, Bloomberg is reporting that even HP CEO Meg Whitman knows it will take half a decade to pull the company up from its current downward trajectory.