Personal Computing | News

PCs See 'Most Severe Contraction on Record'

The PC market tanked last year, but not quite as badly as expected. Overall PC shipments fell 9.8 percent in 2103, slightly better than the 10.1 percent decline previously forecast by market research firm IDC.

The drop was the "most severe contraction on record," IDC reported in its Quarterly PC Tracker, and it's won't be the last. IDC said long-term growth will be slightly below negative for the PC market, with a 6.1 percent decline expected this year and a 0.8 percent decline forecast for 2015.

Worldwide PC shipments hit 315.1 million units in 2013. That's expected to drop again to 295.9 million in 2014. By 2018, that figure will have slid further to 291.7 million, according to IDC's latest forecast.

The decline was caused by a number of factors, including pressure from other devices (including tablets and smart phones) and poor economic conditions, particularly in emerging markets, which had previously been the drivers of PC technology growth.

"2014 will remain a challenging year for PC vendors in Asia as a cautious economic outlook means consumers will prioritize device purchases. At the same time, tectonic changes in politics will affect commercial spending in some of the major countries, like India, Indonesia, and Thailand, which are due to hold elections this year," said Andi Handoko, research manager for client devices at IDC Asia/Pacific, in a prepared statement. "The region is also seeing a void in public sector spending this year after huge education deals seen in India and Malaysia last year failed to materialize."

According to IDC, mature markets (the United States, Canada, Japan and Western Europe) will see better performance in the short term but experience the most significant slump in the long term. In mature markets, PCs fell 7.6 percent in 2013 (on 133.3 million units) and will fall 3.8 percent this year (128.2 million units), outperforming the worldwide average. But the drop in 2018 will be a full 2 percent (120 million units), underperforming the worldwide average.

About the Author

David Nagel is editorial director of 1105 Media's Education Technology Group and editor-in-chief of THE Journal and STEAM Universe. A 29-year publishing veteran, Nagel has led or contributed to dozens of technology, art and business publications.

He can be reached at [email protected]. You can also connect with him on LinkedIn at or follow him on Twitter at @THEDavidNagel (K-12) or @CampusTechDave (higher education).