Market Trends

Worldwide PC Market Expected to Slump in 2016 and 2017

Worldwide PC shipments are expected to decline by 73 percent year over year in 2016, according to a recent forecast by the International Data Corporation’s (IDC) “Worldwide Quarterly PC Tracker.”

The outlook continues to predict progressively smaller declines through 2017, followed by stable volume in 2018. However, growth in 2016 is now expected to be about 2 percent below earlier projections, as conditions have been weaker than expected. Growth in the first quarter of 2016 came in at -12.5 percent, below IDC’s forecast of -11.3 percent.

Impediments such as weak currencies, depressed commodity prices, political uncertainty and delayed projects continue to constrain shipments.

Although growth rates for devices such as phones and tablets continue to fall, conceivably reducing the competitive pressures on PCs, IDC did not see this translate into stronger PC shipments. IDC said the availability of free Windows 10 upgrades has delayed the necessity of purchasing new PCs.

Detachable tablets are also presenting a growing challenge to the PC market, as specs and prices compare increasingly favorable against notebook PCs. If the detachable tablet market is combined with PCs, that market is projected to decline by just over 2 percent in 2016, with small positive growth in later years, yet still falling well short of peak shipments.

“The latest update reflects continuing pressure on PC shipments, but does not significantly change the factors driving the market,” said Loren Loverde, vice president of Worldwide Tracker Forecasting and PC research, in a prepared statement. “In addition, 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. Unfortunately, the PC market still faces some persistent challenges, and for now, improvement continues to mean slower declines.”

The American PC market suffered a rough opening salvo this year. “There are some strong market drivers imminent,” said Linn Huang, IDC’s research director for devices and displays, in a prepared statement. “Chromebooks should continue their rapid ascent in U.S. K-12 as we enter the peak education buying season. 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.”

IDC's Worldwide Quarterly PC Tracker gathers PC market data from more than 80 countries by vendor, size, brand, processor brand and speed, sales channel and user segment. The research includes historical and forecast trend analysis as well as price range and installed base data.

About the Author

Richard Chang is associate editor of THE Journal. He can be reached at

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