In the latest report from the International Data Corporation (IDC), the firm said that 2012 will be a "challenging" year for the worldwide PC market as it struggles against intensifying competition from "alternative devices, global political uncertainty and a still-bumpy economic roadmap." The PC sector is expected to grow a mere 5-percent in 2012 compared to 2011's numbers, with nearly 383 million PCs expected to ship into the market across the globe.
According to the report, shipments during the first quarter were actually better than expected. This was likely due to a quicker-than-expected recovery of the HDD supply chain following the Thailand floods. There's also hope that Windows 8 will help reinvigorate the consumer market, but questions about the release date, functions, and pricing for Windows 8 limit the contribution the new OS may make.
"Consumer sentiment could be revived with UltraBook or Ultrathin systems provided the right price is reached," said said Jay Chou, senior research analyst with IDC's Worldwide Quarterly PC Tracker. "More price-cutting in the Android tablet landscape could free up some budget for PC purchases, but could also focus consumers on tablets rather than PCs. Ultimately, we expect modest PC growth this year as the industry works through the transition to Win8 and related devices."
Here in the States, the PC sector will continue to endure the "perfect storm" over the next few quarters before seeing any meaningful growth. This is due to consumers and business that have already bought a PC, and have no need to upgrade or expand. The upcoming presidential election is also putting a strain on the American people, forcing them to refrain from spending or hiring until early next year.
"The good news, however, is that the forthcoming release of Windows 8 promises to bring new classes of products that could lead to a stronger refresh cycle as the year ends," said David Daoud, research director, Personal Computing at IDC.
ARM-based desktops and hybrid laptops are just two examples of the new classes, the latter including Microsoft's just-revealed Surface slate. Powered either with an ARM or x86-based SoC (depending on the model), it goes beyond the tablet form factor by offering a cover that performs as a super-thin keyboard. The ARM-based Windows RT version is slated to launch this fall with the Windows 8 Pro x-86 version set to launch 90 days thereafter.
IDC expects the revamp of a sleeker Wintel platform to fuel additional growth in 2013 through 2016. Worldwide PC growth should reach 413.6 million units in 2013, then climb to nearly 491 million units in 2015 and 528.5 million units in 2016.
"Meanwhile, headwinds from the Euro crisis are increasingly being felt in the emerging markets, the previous stalwarts of growth. The outlook for emerging markets has become more mixed with Central Europe, Middle East and Africa (CEMA) increasing its outlook while Asia/Pacific (excluding Japan) and Latin America will experience slower growth in the short term," the firm said.
To read the full report, head here.