PC Sales Expected to Decline Further: IDC

In mature regions, the fourth quarter was also slightly ahead of expectations, although the improvement seems driven by short-term factors.

Worldwide PC shipments fell by 9.8 percent in 2013, slightly better than a projected decline of 10.1 percent, but still the most severe contraction on record, according to IT research firm IDC’s latest Worldwide Quarterly PC Tracker.

Emerging regions were on forecast for the fourth quarter, finishing a dismal year with volume declining by 11.3 percent, but concerns about the impact of slower economic growth and the culmination of some large projects tempered future projections.

In addition, conservative expectations for factors like touch capability, migration off of Windows XP, as well as continued pressure from tablets and smartphones, has further depressed expectations going forward, the report noted.

The company defines PCs to include desktops, mini notebooks and other portable PCs that possess non-detachable keyboards, and IDC does not include handhelds or tablets such as the iPad, Microsoft Surface Pro or Android tablets.

"Emerging markets used to be a core driver of the PC market, as rising penetration among large populations boosted overall growth," Loren Loverde, vice president of IDC’s Worldwide PC Trackers, said in a statement. "At the moment, however, we're seeing emerging regions more affected by a weak economic environment as well as significant shifts in technology buying priorities. We do expect these regions to recover in the medium term and perform better than mature regions, but growth is expected to stabilize near zero percent, rather than driving increasing volumes as we saw in the past."

In mature regions, the fourth quarter was also slightly ahead of expectations, although the improvement seems driven by short-term factors like a slight rise in XP replacements and is not expected to last long, the report warned.

Overall growth projections for 2014 were lowered by just over 2 percent, and subsequent years were lowered by less than 1 percent. However, the changes were enough to keep long-term growth just below zero, and push volumes below 300 million throughout the forecast rather than staying slightly above this level.

"2014 will remain a challenging year for PC vendors in Asia as a cautious economic outlook means consumers will prioritize device purchases. At the same time, tectonic changes in politics will affect commercial spending in some of the major countries, like India, Indonesia and Thailand, which are due to hold elections this year," Andi Handoko, research manager for client devices for IDC Asia/Pacific, said in a statement. "The region is also seeing a void in public sector spending this year after huge education deals seen in India and Malaysia last year failed to materialize."