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International Data Corporation (IDC) predicts worldwide PC shipments will slip to 255.6 million this year, a 7.3 percent decline. In 2015, PC makers shipped 275.8 desktop and notebook PCs.
With shipments of 152.3 million units, notebooks will remain the form factor of choice this year. Desktop PC shipments are expected to reach 103.3 million units.
PC vendors face a challenging landscape. The slowing smartphone and tablet markets isn't translating into increased demand for PCs. Performance wise, detachable tablets are moving into notebook PC territory, further eroding demand.
By 2020, IDG expects PC shipments to fall to just shy of a quarter-billion units (249.5 million) and the chances for a rebound appear remote.
Loren Loverde, vice president of IDC Worldwide Tracker Forecasting and PC research, observed that "we have now had four consecutive quarters of double-digit volume declines. This type of prolonged slump is unprecedented, and lowers the bar for some improvement going forward."
There are some bright spots as the U.S. gets ready for the back-to-school shopping season, said IDC research director Linn Huang.
"Chromebooks should continue their rapid ascent in U.S. K-12 as we enter the peak education buying season," said Huang in a statement. And a recent move by Google may help stoke demand further.
Last month, with the Google I/O conference as a backdrop, Google announced it was adding Android App support to new Chromebooks due out later this year.
"Today we announced that we're adding Android apps to Chromebooks, which means users will be able to install the apps they know and love," wrote Chrome OS software engineers Dylan Reid and Elijah Taylor in a blog post. "Later this year you can expand your app's reach to a new hardware platform and wider audience while maximizing the Google Play ecosystem."
Microsoft, meanwhile, is expected to gain ground in enterprise.
"We also believe that some organizations will have been testing Windows 10 throughout the year and will start the transition in earnest towards the end of the year. Still, the backdrop to all of that remains an ever softening consumer PC market," continued Huang.
The free Windows 10 upgrade offer, which is set to expire this summer, has caused some consumers to hold off on buying a new PC. Consumers are also likely to pick up a smartphone or iPad to check email and perform other tasks, reducing their reliance on full-fledged PCs.
Pedro Hernandez is a contributing editor at Datamation. Follow him on Twitter @ecoINSITE.