2012 was not exactly a banner year for desktop PC shipments, with the total dropping for the first time in better than 10 years. But 2013 doesn't look to be a recovery year for the PC, according to recent research from IDC (News - Alert). The number is once again expected to drop, though in the PC's favor, it's not expected to drop as much as it did in 2012.
IDC's research, released partially in a statement, expected worldwide PC shipments to drop 1.3 percent in 2013, which is something of an improvement over 2012, in which said shipments declined fully 3.7 percent, but is still not a good sign for PC makers. A number of factors are said to be behind the expected drop, including an increased migration to tablets, as well as people holding off on PC upgrades owing to the recent release of Windows 8. Windows 8 is optimized for touch-based users, but given the comparatively low numbers of touch-based PCs--and the accompanying high prices of same--that's keeping users in a wait-and-see pattern until the devices become more widely available at better prices.
However, IDC is expecting shipments to grow in the second half of 2013, as Windows 8 becomes wider accepted overall and Windows stops supporting Windows XP, still a favorite among many Windows users. This is likely to prompt enterprise users to get into some upgrades and drive shipments. It's the first half of 2013 that's going to be the real drag on shipments, as both consumers and companies hold off on upgrades, waiting for conditions to improve. Intel (News - Alert) looks to continue backing the ultrabook line that it's been pushing for some time now, and that's expected to help PC shipments as prices drop and quality improves. Additionally, shipments to emerging markets are expected to grow--IDC puts that figure at about 0.6 percent over the previous year--and that's expected to help as well. In more mature markets, however, shipments are expected to decline about four percent.
Granted, consumers are making moves toward the go-anywhere styling brought in by mobile hardware like tablets and smartphones. PCs, meanwhile, are becoming a bit more of a specialist tool, favored by those who do large amounts of word processing or similar office tasks, or for those who play games. There's still quite a bit of room for the PC to come back, of course--the idea of the PC as less a tool of the office and more a tool of the living room is coming into its own thanks to developments like the home theater PC system and video game bonanzas like those commonly found on Steam--but the PC will still have quite a bit of work to do to recover anywhere near the levels seen in its pre-tablet glory days.
The future of the PC may be looking a little on the bleak side, but it's seldom a good idea to underestimate the idea of innovation, and new uses being found for an older platform.
Edited by Rachel Ramsey