Figures from IDC show that PC shipments in the first quarter of 2013 suffered the worst year-on-year contraction in nearly two decades.
According to figures collected by International Data Corporation (IDC) in its Worldwide Quarterly PC Tracker. worldwide PC shipments totaled 76.3 million units in the first quarter of 2013 (1Q13), down -13.9% compared to the same quarter in 2012 and worse than IDC's forecast decline of -7.7%,
The press release stated:
The extent of the year-on-year contraction marked the worst quarter since IDC began tracking the PC market quarterly in 1994. The results also marked the fourth consecutive quarter of year-on-year shipment declines.
In the US where 14.2 million units were shipped, quarterly shipments reached their lowest level since the first quarter of 2006.
The explanation for the this quarter's decline appears not to be the economic climate but resistance to Windows 8 on the part of consumers. IDC's Vice President Bob O'Donnnell, commented:
"At this point, unfortunately, it seems clear that the Windows 8 launch not only failed to provide a positive boost to the PC market, but appears to have slowed the market.
While some consumers appreciate the new form factors and touch capabilities of Windows 8, the radical changes to the UI, removal of the familiar Start button, and the costs associated with touch have made PCs a less attractive alternative to dedicated tablets and other competitive devices.
Microsoft will have to make some very tough decisions moving forward if it wants to help reinvigorate the PC market."
We were already looking forward to a computing ecosystem dominated by tablets and Android, see yesterday's The Future is Android. Even so, as IDC's Research Director, Personal Computing, expressed it:
the magnitude of the contraction is both surprising and worrisome
pointing out the impact on vendors who will need to react to shrinking demand and looming consolidation.
Microsoft's big gamble on Windows 8 now appears to have been taken on behalf of the wider PC community and it doesn't seem to be paying off.
To save the PC situation it needs to decouple its tablet and desktop UIs and let the tablet side swim, or more likely sink, on its own.