Pathetic PC shipments set rotten record; blame lain on Windows 8

Building imploding
Time to start smashing some PCs

Two reports amount to a whole lot of crummy news for PC makers.

In separate findings, market research firms International Data Corporation (IDC) and Gartner painted a bleak picture for the personal computer space, continuing the dump of dour outlooks for a market hit hard by smartphones and tablets.

How bad is it?

We'll let the numbers speak for themselves.

I Don't C much good

The IDC's very serious sounding Worldwide Quarterly PC Tracker found that PC shipments slipped 13.9 percent in the first quarter of 2013 compared to the same quarter last year.

This surpasses the firm's prediction of a 7.7 percent decrease. While an IDC analyst said in a press release that shipment drop wasn't unexpected, "the magnitude of the contraction is both surprising and worrisome."

As if a worse-than-expected lapse wasn't bad enough, this marks the worst year-on-year drop since IDC starting tracking quarterly PC shipments in 1994.

It's also the fourth straight quarter of year-on-year shipment decline.

Tablets and smartphones - those two mobile deviants - continued to chip away at PCs' place, despite some "mild improvement" in the economy and new PCs featuring Windows 8.

Not that Windows 8 has helped: According to the IDC, there's been "weak reception" of the platform, though it got much blunter.

"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," Bob O'Donnell, IDC program vice president, clients and displays, said in a press release.


General hurt

Windows 8, despite the name checking, isn't the only contributing factor to the decline. Mini-notebook shipments (of which Acer leads globally) are fading, and though PC makers have tried to woo customers with touch capabilities and ultraslim designs, constraints in price and components aren't helping.

From the IDC's perspective, the entire PC industry is struggling to innovate, differentiate and inspire customers to buy.

You can scope how various vendors did below, but as the chart demonstrates and IDC pointed out, Lenovo all and all outpaced the market while also outperforming in the U.S.. Lessened shipments in the Asia/Pacific region did keep its growth flat:

IDC figures

Lenovo sent out a statement as the IDC's figures came out, essentially outlining why it continues to outperform its "traditional PC competition." According to the statement, it plans to continue growing in the PC space as well as the "PC+ world" with products like tablets and smartphones, in case you were wondering.

HP maintained its top global and U.S. spot, but saw a global decline of 23 percent year-on-year and 22.9 stateside.

Apple, bunched in the "Others" category, fared better overall in the U.S., however it too saw a PC decline of 7.5 percent thanks to what IDC categorized as cannibalism from the iPad.

Regional ratings

The U.S.'s "dismal quarter" for PCs was colored by a 12.7 percent year-on-year decline and a drop of 18.3 percent compared to the fourth quarter in 2012.

Shipments in the States hit their lowest level since the first quarter of 2006 as they landed at 14.2 million. In a dubious achievement, this is the tenth straight quarter of year-on-year contraction, save for one period in 2011.

Europe, the Middle East and Africa "remained constrained," according to the IDC, but Gartner's research showed the regional grouping saw the steepest decline globally.

A 16 percent drop marks the biggest dip for the region since Gartner started tracking PCs there.

Gartner PC sales

Gartner noted this is the first time since 2009 quarterly PC shipments have fallen below 80 million units a quarter (it said the worldwide total was 79.2 million). That's not the only negative proclamation made in its press release, but you get the idea.

According to Gartner, only Apple and Lenovo saw shipment growth in the first part of the year, however only in the U.S.

You'll notice the discrepancy between the IDC's figures and Gartner's when it comes to how Apple's PCs performed. Apple is due to give its earnings report on April 23, so we'll hear from Cupertino itself how its Macs did this quarter. Maybe we'll also hear a little bragging from the research firm that got it right.

Michelle Fitzsimmons

Michelle was previously a news editor at TechRadar, leading consumer tech news and reviews. Michelle is now a Content Strategist at Facebook.  A versatile, highly effective content writer and skilled editor with a keen eye for detail, Michelle is a collaborative problem solver and covered everything from smartwatches and microprocessors to VR and self-driving cars.