Leading market research firms, including IDC, Gartner and IHS iSuppli, are reporting that PC sales have fallen this year. Unless the release of Windows 8 gives the industry a dramatic boost, PC sales may post an annual decline for the first time in more than a decade.
"Shipments of personal computers are on pace to fall this year for the first time since the dot-com bust of 2001, according to a new forecast from IHS iSuppli," wrote David Goldman in CNNMoney. "That would be a stunning turn of events for a industry that at the beginning of the year seemed poised for a surge."
Preliminary research from Gartner showed, "Worldwide PC shipments totaled 87.5 million units in the third quarter of 2012, a decline of 8.3 percent compared with the third quarter of 2011." Gartner principal analyst Mikako Kitagawa noted, "The third quarter has historically been driven by back-to-school sales, but U.S. PC shipments did not increase, not even sequentially, from the second quarter of 2012. Channels were conservative in placing orders." She added. "Professional PC shipments in the U.S. began slowing in the second quarter of this year, and they continued the trend in the third quarter. The results indicate that the replacement peak may have passed in the professional sector."
"PCs are going through a severe slump," agreed Jay Chou, IDC senior research analyst. "The industry had already weathered a rough second quarter, and now the third quarter was even worse. A weak global economy as well as questions about PC market saturation and delayed replacement cycles are certainly a factor, but the hard question of what is the 'it' product for PCs remain unanswered. While ultrabook prices have come down a little, there are still some significant challenges that will greet Windows 8 in the coming quarter."
The Guardian's Charles Arthur reported, "Now analysts say PC vendors face tough challenges persuading consumers in particular to spend on PCs rather than smartphones and tablets as straitened economic times worsen in many regions. 'We previously had all-singing, all-dancing PCs for some time - they were the only choice for years,' Ranjit Atwal, Gartner's personal computing analyst, told the Guardian. 'But now the lack of any type of innovation in the PC space has meant that there's very little reason for somebody to go and buy one. That has put the PC at the back of the queue.'"