Worldwide shipments of personal computers (PCs) dropped 2.1% year over year in 2014 and another 10.6% in 2015. This year shipments will fall another 7.3% before the decline slows to a drop of 1.6% in 2017.
The data were released Thursday by International Data Corp. (IDC).
Desktop PC shipments are forecast to fall about 8.7% year over year to 103.3 million units in 2016, and portable PC shipments are expected to drop by around 6.3% to 152.3 million units this year. In 2014 the industry shipped 133.9 million desktop units and 174.4 million portable units.
An IDC executive said:
The latest update reflects continuing pressure on PC shipments, but does not significantly change the factors driving the market. 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 researchers also noted that although growth rates for smartphones and tablets are also declining, that has not translated into stronger shipments of PCs. Detachable tablets, like the Microsoft Surface, are not counted in either the desktop or portable categories, and while sales of these devices has improved, even adding detachable sales to overall PC sales shows the total market still declining by more than 2% in 2016.
IDC research manager Jay Chou noted:
The economic and competitive pressures [on the PC market] are particularly affecting the consumer segment, which is projected to see another year of double-digit declines in 2016, and decline throughout the forecast. In contrast, commercial shipments are projected to decline just 4.4% in 2016 and see slightly positive growth for the next few years.
IDC also said that PC sales could pick up later this year as large organizations complete testing of the Windows 10 operating system, but that is factored into the forecast.
One last note: desktop sales in mature markets like the United States and Western Europe are forecast to post a compound annual growth rate of negative 4.8% over the next five years, the most of any market segment.