Windows 8, Ultrabooks Could Give PC Market a Modest Push: IDC

 
 
By Michelle Maisto  |  Posted 2012-06-19 Email Print this article Print
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

IDC expects modest PC growth this year, with shipments nearing 383 million. Strong offerings running Windows 8 could help, and some luster from Microsoft's Surface certainly couldn't hurt.

The PC market should expect no miracles this year, research firm IDC shared in a June 19 report. Pointing to global economic uncertainty and increasing competition from alternate devices such as tablets, the research firm is expecting only modest growth. Shipments by year€™s end are forecast to near 383 million units.

While PC shipments during the first quarter were better than expected, IDC Senior Research Analyst Jay Chou explains that this was due to a quicker-than-expected recovery of the hard-disk drive (HDD) supply following devastating flooding last fall in Thailand, where the HDD market is concentrated. While those figures shouldn€™t be taken as an indicator of a bright year ahead, there are likely to be rosy spots, according to Chou.

€œConsumer sentiment could be revived with UltraBook or Ultrathin systems, provided the right price is reached,€ Chou wrote in the report. €œMore 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.€

Intel executives have said that more than 100 Ultrabooks have been designed around the company€™s new Ivy Bridge processors, and this spring the notebooks were introduced in waves. Many of the business notebooks, taking cues from consumer PCs, are likely to pique the interest of executives (though wider rollouts are another story). On June 11, Apple also refreshed its notebook lineup with the Intel chips.

In the United States, the upcoming presidential election is said to be stressing both consumers and businesses, which respectively are refraining from spending and hiring. IDC says it€™s expecting this €œperfect storm€ to continue over the next two quarters before meaningful growth is resumed.

This fall, Microsoft is expected to introduce Windows 8, its long-anticipated and much-hyped platform reimagining, more than just refresh, though it has to specify a date. If the ensuing devices running Windows 8 catch users€™ fancy, the platform could lead to a "stronger refresh cycle as the year ends," said IDC Research Director David Daoud.

Underscoring Microsoft€™s need for users to be drawn to products running its software, the company decided to leave little to chance. In Los Angeles June 18, despite strong ties to a number of hardware makers that will release Windows 8 tablets later this year, Microsoft introduced the Microsoft Surface, a tablet designed to compete against the Apple iPad€”and not just by trying to be an iPad. Refreshingly, in a PC industry full of iPad clones, Microsoft managed to push the design a step further and paired the tablet with a cover that can act as a keyboard.

While the Surface€™s success will be partly determined by its price point€”which, like its release date, has yet to be announced€”it€™s possible that the tablet will do something to improve Microsoft€™s brand image, which could help to nudge PC sales higher.

IDC expects worldwide PC growth to reach 413.6 million units in 2013, before climbing to nearly 491 million units in 2015 and 528.5 in 2016.

The firm notes that emerging markets, €œprevious stalwarts of growth,€ are feeling headwinds from the Euro crisis. Still, IDC expects these markets to lead, shipping 224.5 million units this year to the 158.2 million units of mature markets, though the former€™s outcome will be more mixed.

Follow Michelle Maisto on Twitter.

 
 
 
 
Michelle Maisto has been covering the enterprise mobility space for a decade, beginning with Knowledge Management, Field Force Automation and eCRM, and most recently as the editor-in-chief of Mobile Enterprise magazine. She earned an MFA in nonfiction writing from Columbia University, and in her spare time obsesses about food. Her first book, The Gastronomy of Marriage, if forthcoming from Random House in September 2009.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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