PC shipments drop 14%; IDC says Windows 8 is hurting traditional computer market

windows8It has been clear for a while Windows 8 hasn’t lifted the PC market, but a new report goes further to say that the radical changes introduced by Microsoft are making things worse.

The report from IDC shows a 13.9 percent decline in PC shipments for the first quarter, despite the release of Microsoft’s new operating system in October. That’s well beyond the 7.7 percent drop that IDC had been expecting, qualifying as the worst year-over-year quarterly decline in shipments since the research firm began tracking the PC market on a quarterly basis nearly two decades ago.

“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,” says Bob O’Donnell, IDC program vice president, in a news release.

O’Donnell adds, “While some consumers appreciate the new form factors and touch capabilities of Windows 8, the radical changes to the UI, removal of the familiar Start button, and the costs associated with touch have made PCs a less attractive alternative to dedicated tablets and other competitive devices. Microsoft will have to make some very tough decisions moving forward if it wants to help reinvigorate the PC market.”

His colleague David Daoud, IDC research director, says this: “Although the reduction in shipments was not a surprise, the magnitude of the contraction is both surprising and worrisome. The industry is going through a critical crossroads, and strategic choices will have to be made as to how to compete with the proliferation of alternative devices and remain relevant to the consumer. Vendors will have to revisit their organizational structures and go to market strategies, as well as their supply chain, distribution, and product portfolios in the face of shrinking demand and looming consolidation.

The rise of the iPad continues to hurt traditional computer sales, and Apple is actually seeing the impact as well — with Macs faring better than the overall market, but still experiencing a decline in shipments, according to IDC.

Update, Thursday morning: Microsoft says in a statement that the PC market is “evolving and highly dynamic.”

The statement continues, “Today’s PCs come in multiple forms – from highly mobile Windows 8 tablets that function like full PCs, to convertible laptops with long battery life, to multi-touch all-in-ones that revolutionize the desktop PC. Windows 8 sold more than 60 million licenses in its first few months — a strong start by any measure. Along with our partners, we continue to bring even more innovation to market across tablets and PCs.”

One important note is that IDC’s definition of “PC” only includes devices with attached keyboards, so Windows 8 and Windows RT tablets, and computers with detachable keyboards, aren’t included in these numbers.

Here are the IDC charts for the U.S. and worldwide markets.

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  • guest

    So much for the “most epic year in MS’s history” that Ballmer promised.

    • Guest

      I disagree, those numbers are pretty epic.

      • guest

        Yeah, epic as in fail. Not exactly what Ballmer was promising.

    • Bob

      Ballmer has been consistently good at one thing: being wrong. The fact that he hasn’t been fired yet is simply astounding. People have been calling for his head since mid last decade. The stock has been dead money for an almost impossible to believe 15 years. He’s one of the only CEOs in history who can claim credit for not just one, but half a dozen losers that have each cost shareholders $5 billion or more. With Ballmer left in place, it was always a question of when, not if, MS would face an existential threat to its future. That day has now arrived. The incredibly lucrative computing monoculture it reigned over for 25 years has been blown to smithereens by Apple and Google. These are the same two companies that when they were kicking MS’s butt all last decade, Ballmer claimed were maximizing for the present while MS was investing for the future. Well, now the future is here and they own that too Ballmer is out of excuses and is long overdue to out as CEO.

  • robotlogic

    It seems Microsoft is being lazy by trying to push the same touch screen UI across every platform. Sorry guys, Debbie’s boss in accounts doesn’t seem to think she needs her Facebook updates and Xbox ranking updating on her work computer home screen. Oh look Debbie, your Mom just Tweeted that her Colonoscopy came back AOK. Maybe if they would of at least faked up a “Work & Productivity” looking screen for the “Pro” version they may had a chance selling to business/corporate computer users.

    • guest

      “Maybe if they would of at least faked up a “Work & Productivity” looking screen for the “Pro” version”
      They did. It’s called the desktop.

      • http://www.facebook.com/jasondouglasfarris Jason Farris

        Windows 8 features a very nice desktop. I really don’t understand how folks went from moving their mouse to the bottom left corner and clicking the mouse to bring up the start screen in Windows 7, and being happy, to moving their mouse to the bottom left corner and clicking the mouse to bring up the start screen in Windows 8 and being mad. A much more functional start screen too. Win+Q is also extremely robust now. I think folks are piling on without really giving it a try.

        • guest

          Piling on or not, MS has lost control of the PR battle and the product is in danger of becoming Vista II, only at a time when MS can’t afford another Windows failure. I’m a W8 user and see it as a upgrade overall from W7. But it’s definitely not as good as it should have been or MS needed it to be. The included Metro apps should never have been allowed to ship in the condition they were in. That was inexcusable, as is how long it has taken MS to even start fixing them. W8 was meant to be a new era of fast and frequent functionality upgrades from MS – continuous improvement. I haven’t seen evidence of that so far. Blue needs to happen asap and offer a lot more than what I’ve seen so far, which is mostly obvious customization capabilities that should have been there on day one.

          • http://www.facebook.com/jasondouglasfarris Jason Farris

            agree. The W8 apps were behind on launch, not up to promise but by no means unusable.What I’m protesting, is that on the majority of these kinds of articles, and even from tech journalists themselves, are a run of complaints that don’t actually exist. The notion than anyone is “forced” to have a metro experience for one, and other telling comments that make it clear the complainer hasn’t actually used the OS.

    • http://www.facebook.com/jasondouglasfarris Jason Farris

      You do realize that the tiles are 100% configurable. No one has things on their screen they didn’t put there themselves.

      • http://www.facebook.com/jasondouglasfarris Jason Farris

        I would agree that they should have a less candy colored theme available. I like the apps on the Win8 home, it’s super functional, but I don’t need some of the color choices. That said, very happy with the new OS.

  • Allen

    Makes you ask why has Lenovo been successful?

    Perhaps because they are the only one that really developed for Win8 and touch in multiple offerings? X1, Yoga, two tablets, etc.

    Dell and HP…. same old stuff.

    • Thomas R.

      Actually that’s not the reason, if you read the report instead of the summarized article: “The industry’s No. 2, China’s Lenovo Group, is benefitting from sales to first-time buyers in China and other developing countries. As a result, it held sales steady, alone among the world’s top 5 PC makers, according to IDC’s figures.”

      • Olivierf14

        Yeah but even on the US market it grew 13% while the local incumbents stumbled massively. If the entire PC market is going downhill, they’re obviously doing something right and bucking the trend.

  • http://twitter.com/DaQuantumFro DaMarico Fowler

    So Windows 8 ,which is aiming at tablets and hybrid devices, is not saving traditional PCs; which sales having been going down for a few years as people move to tablets. I’m shocked really shocked

    • Guest

      And those hybrids have not sold. Clearly this was “Mission Accomplished”

    • guest

      Was it really unrealistic to think that after THREE YEARS of development and starting from a very solid W7 base, a company that spends more than $9b a year on R&D and has one of the largest and most experienced OS development teams in the industry just might deliver a product that put it back in contention on tablets AND also reenergize lagging PC sales, especially with the company’s future on the line due to competition from iPad and Android-based tablets?

      So far it hasn’t done either. In fact it’s been close to a total bust on tablets and desktop adoption isn’t encouraging either. You can certainly place some blame on the OEMs. Many have been busy flushing their non-touch W7 inventory rather than getting aggressive on touch-based W8 devices. But in the end the majority of the blame falls on MS. W8 was billed by MS as its “reinvention”. It was meant to demonstrate the company could compete against Apple and Google in the “post PC” era, thereby silencing the growing number of critics which said it couldn’t. That hasn’t happened, which is a fail.

      • http://www.facebook.com/jasondouglasfarris Jason Farris

        But it should have. The NUI experience W8 / WP8 / Xbox offers as an ecosystem is by far the most the most advanced. MS went from being to far behind to being to far ahead.

        Point in case… pick up your average Android phone, doesnt matter which one, and it literally looks like Vista… ancient icon system, tacky gadgets all over the screen, mismatched UI abound. I wonder what would have happened if MS had launched Android as the “Vista Phone” four years ago.

        • guest

          Far ahead by what measure? Ability to spout BS? Sales is the only metric that matters, and they’re sucking hard.

          • http://www.facebook.com/jasondouglasfarris Jason Farris

            Innovation. I replied to a comment about R&D and innovation. What is the “BS” your talking about being “spouted”?

          • Guest

            Innovation doesn’t mean much, if nobody wants it. Windows 8 is Ballmer’s version of Homer Simpson’s car design.

          • http://www.facebook.com/jasondouglasfarris Jason Farris

            I have no doubt that if this conversation were taking place at my house, and I walked you around the devices, how well the MS ecosystem works, integrates, customizes to each users, you would leave saying, “alright, that’s actually pretty cool”.

            There’s a lot you haven’t explored. If Win8 fails, as you seem to hope it will, it will not be for lack of innovation, functionality, or sophistication. It will be sheer prejudice and an unwillingness to try new things en masse; which will be ironic since for most of the last 20 years the complaint has been MS didn’t innovate enough.

          • Guest

            I am willing to be agreeable on your first paragraph. However, I do not hope MS or Windows fails, I just hope MS comes to their senses and rectifies the abomination that is Windows 8. That doesn’t mean they should revert to Windows 7 either, but deliver something truly innovative, a must have OS. No matter how much you like Windows 8, it’s by no means a must have anything. Faster boot, touch? Really? I can go for years without both. There’s simply no killer app that makes me run to the store to get a touch enabled desktop.

            Also, the masses aren’t at all unwilling to try new things, just look at the iPad or iPhone. Very new formats and use cases at their respective times, people loved it. You may however have a point on prejudice, MS used to be the bully for decades. People began to resent the company, the company certainly has it tougher to come back than it should be. So in that respect I admit I feel a little joy that they are reaping what they sowed. I wish they would learn from this, but then they start crap like “Scroogled” and I know they really haven’t changed.

            So in conclusion, I sincerely root for Microsoft, hope they change their ways of negative campaigning, FUD, and bullying, innovate true killer apps to justify an upgrade in both hardware and OS, and maybe even embrace the Linux community as an opportunity instead of a threat. IMO openness is the future, not mimicking Apple’s walled garden. Right now they are playing to Apple’s/Google’s strengths and their own weakness, which is why they can’t possibly win.

            MS needs to truly reinvent itself. Windows 8 attempted this, I admit. But was misguided. What they need is a huge thing that will make their next OS a must have. And I hope that will happen soon, otherwise they’re toast – in the long run.

          • http://www.facebook.com/jasondouglasfarris Jason Farris

            I thought the Scroogled thing was kinda tacky too, until our company got Scroogled for real. We had migrated our back end to GoogleApps last fall at our CRMs recomendation. Then in January, Google cut off sync support for everyone’s devices except Google phones, completely desynchonized everyone’s contacts and calendars, which we all depend on heavily. Refused new connections leaving everyone out in the cold. Dug deeper, and it was sheerly a move to leverage my personal identity, my EMAIL, to get me away from competitors products. That wasn’t the SLA when I got a gmail account back in the day, and it certainly wasn’t the idea when we paid for GoogleApps as a company.

            Another case in point, GoogleApps requires a little add on tool called the GoogleApps Sync Mail to Outlook, (GASMO) to connect GApps to Office. Despite having the SDK for 14 months before launch, they still hadn’t released a Office2013 compatible version. It’s a tiny piece of software that millions depend on to connect Gapps to their office environment, and they dragged their feet (still not out) purely to cause Office users headaches. Paid, business users mind you. Not cool.

            Since we got Scroogled, our only choice was to migrate to an Exchange server, which supports ALL devices. But guess what… upon importing our mail, we discover that the GASMO tool corrupted the PST files, intentionally mind you, so they would not be compatible with other back end services. Google clandestinely corrupted a standard file format so it would be very difficult to go elsewhere once you use GoogleApps. Without warning or notice. What? Seriously?

            Do a search and you’ll find tons of articles about how to migrate to Gapps, but zero, literally NOTHING about how to migrate away.

            Not to mention the common complaints about privacy, scanning private mail, or just killing off services without regard, or morphing their offerings without warning or support.

            It’s sad to say, as I used to be a big Google supporter (believe it or not ran Androids for a long time), but the Scroogled thing is pretty real.

          • http://www.facebook.com/jasondouglasfarris Jason Farris

            With regards to changing as a company, we’re a 100 days into a paradigm shift. Calling this an abomination is hyperbolic and wrong, as user with a W8 phone, tablet and workstation, I can tell you it’s by far the most connected, cross integrated, and personalized ecosystem I’ve ever used. I do cringe when I go to Bestbuy and see customers trying to touch control W8 laptops screens and wondering whats going on. Seeing the “default” apps and thinking they are stuck with using them (as you did)… it’s completely the opposite. The OEMs did no favors by loading W8 on their W7 inventory or being unprepared for the launch.

          • http://www.facebook.com/jasondouglasfarris Jason Farris

            All the back and forth on details and gripes is only so useful. I appreciate the conversation, but I’m going to try to boil it down.

            W8 has a problem. The problem is when you goof around with it, it feels confrontational and confusing, especially so when stuck with just the mouse/keyboard.

            But, when you LIVE in it, it is amazing. Miles ahead, absolutely personalized computing, integrated and converged across all touch-points, massively functional and productive.

            The problem Microsoft has isn’t the product. It’s how to get people to try it. It’s too much.

        • Guest

          How convenient, you define “Aero”-style look and icon system as obsolete, when there’s absolutely no hard evidence for that. I for one prefer vibrant colors with transparency and other visual effects supporting moderate skeuomorphism over the “clean” but fugly style of Modern or Metro or whatever they call this abomination these days. And the live tiles sound good in theory, but in reality they are just too busy. Who wants constant stock ticker updates in their new “start” menu? And lastly, W8 fans who bypass Metro and go directly to the desktop essentially admit that Metro has failed.

          • Stupid Apple Fanbois

            You obviously haven’t used the product. If you had a constant stock ticker in your “start” menu, which some people might like, it would be because you chose to put it there and left it to be “live” updated. Otherwise you could either not have it, or turn off the updating. So what sounds good in theory, also works well in practice. As a start replacement, Metro is just a bigger canvas. The WinRT runtime otoh is a whole different conversation. And like any immature platform, time is required for apps to develop. And it’s the apps that eventually encourage more use.

          • Guest

            I’ve used it numerous times on Surface tablets (haven’t bought one though), I have it installed on a desktop (albeit in a VM). I can’t even begin to tell you how much I dislike this abomination. And no, I don’t own any Apple products, so I can’t possibly be a fanboi. Windows 7 is fine, Windows 8 and Metro in particular are a total usability disaster. No, booting faster into a catastrophic user experience is really no plus at all, so spare us those MS provided talking points. But you guys can go on and praise as much as you want, clearly nobody cares. The majority of people are unmistakably voting with their wallets. Windows 8 is terrible, maybe not for you, but for most others … and in the end for MS.

          • http://www.facebook.com/jasondouglasfarris Jason Farris

            So far, 60+million people care, and it’s only been a few months. (compared to 17m iPads sold in the same period, 4m Macbooks). There’s no doubt about it, Win8 was designed for the future, people who shoehorn in onto their old machine will not see the full benefit. OEMS clearing their Win7 hardware by dropping Win8 on it aren’t doing consumers any favors either. But that channel will clear, and all devices moving forward will have some combination of touch, voice, 3d gesture space in conjunction with the classic key+mouse.

            Now, will PC sales continue to decline, absolutely. (Macbook sales were also down in the same period). A lot of folks who bough PCs in the last 20 years didn’t really need one, it was overkill for what then need from computing, and smartphones and computer-lite experiences like tablets and netbooks and notephones and whatnot will fill in that space, as it should. My mom didn’t need a quad-core desktop to look at facebook and make picture albums of her vacation trips; that segment of the market will melt. Win8 does a great job of bringing phone, desktop and tablet into one touchpoint, and that’s the future. If you haven’t used it as an ecosystem, your selling yourself short to post judgement.

          • Guest

            Did you not read the article? Windows 8 is failing in the market. There’s no ifs or buts. And 60 million licenses doesn’t equate to 60 million people. Moreover, that figure is rather old, where’s the updated amount of how many Windows 8 machines were sold to date? Exactly.

          • http://www.facebook.com/jasondouglasfarris Jason Farris

            The person who wants a stock ticker is the person who has a stock ticker. That’s the point. you pick what’s important to you and the livetiles reflect your interests. You arrange them to your liking. You decide which ones update and which ones don’t. Make them all live. Make none of them live. Remove the ones you don’t need. Add ones you do. It’s actually very powerful. I can pin not just apps programs, but information feeds, social connections, groups of social connections, albums, songs, artists.

            It’s miles ahead of an “Aero” icon system, which is just a prettied up version of a 90′s UI. Aero/Android = Windows95 with new hardware.

          • Guest

            So they resort to a Windows 3.1 design instead?

          • http://www.facebook.com/jasondouglasfarris Jason Farris

            Come on now. There’s nothing remotely Win3.1 about a metro app or the start screen that houses them. Not even close.

          • Guest

            My point was that ANY frequently updating tiles become an annoyance eventually. Turning them all off turns Metro essentially into the same static “ancient system”, just with uglier icons. And what’s really the point of that?

          • http://www.facebook.com/jasondouglasfarris Jason Farris

            Some people may be annoyed more easily than others. Having my computer present me with the information that I ask it to track and present to me is not an annoyance. It’s just a machine.

          • http://www.facebook.com/jasondouglasfarris Jason Farris
        • Guest

          “if MS had launched Android as the “Vista Phone””

          You mean MS promoting Linux?

          • guest

            They contribute code to it. They support it on Azure. They’ve directly sold UNIX in the past. What’s your point?

        • guest

          Why? Apple and Google had already run away with the smartphone market and were two years into dominating the tablet one. What did MS show up with? A half-finished OS, few apps, limited hardware, price points that were too high, and a clumsy marketing campaign. Why would you expect them to even get heard at that point? The worst thing about it all was they’d just finished doing that with WP. So when iPad hit, they should have right away realized that if they waited three years before responding again, it wasn’t going to matter if the product was better in some areas. Mini-Microsoft posted exactly that on his blog at the time. He said they had to be in market that year (2010).

  • Spin This Frank Shaw

    The good news in all this is that Gates, who for reasons unknown has protected Ballmer for a decade during which MS’s relevance, growth and market cap have all declined precipitously, is finally going to have to cut him loose this year. And MS, which has resisted reinventing itself for two decades, is finally going to have no choice if it expects to survive. The bad news is that it’s all coming too late. If MS couldn’t beat Apple and Google when it has everything going its way, it’s unlikely to do so now that its behind in so many important areas and its legacy businesses are in decline.

    • Guest

      Moreover, Apple and Google have been working on this in partnership all along. Forget the Jobs quotes, these two companies took down the beast (MS) with strategy and patience. Apple went into MS neglected consumer products and is now coming full circle with PC killing tablets, whereas Google established dominance in internet services, which culminated in cloud computing and Android OS. Google Docs put Office under pressure and Android challenged Windows. On mobile they have each others back anyway (by sharing the market among them), so MS can’t even get a foothold and take over as they used to so many times before. That was probably the only way to do it.

  • tyrekicker-88

    This is yet another worrying report that will make uncomfortable reading for all OEMs. If anyone was in any doubt about the advancing decline of the traditional PC market, then this should be your wake-up call as it confirms the ever weakening
    market position of Microsoft and how they have failed to stem the tide of disapproval that has been welling up for some time and could yet develop into a full blown tsunami against the stock.

    Microsoft today is sadly out of touch with reality and its once loyal customer base, and how they can switch from a position of near complete market dominance on the Desktop to one of playing catch-up when you consider the resources available to them defies explanation. Maybe it’s complacency, maybe it’s arrogance or maybe it’s something else, but they just seem to be like the fat kid at school now that nobody wants to play with and the desperate attempt to woo customers back with Windows 8 and its dreadful ‘Fisher Price’ interface seems to have backfired spectacularly if this proves to be the rationale behind the IDC figures.

    • guest

      True, but they’re nothing in this report they were not already intimately aware of.

      • Guest

        Then I guess it’s all good, right?

        • guest

          Where did he say it was good? He said they already know about it. Duh, it’s their business.

          • Guest

            “True, but…” implies that it’s somehow not that bad for MS because there’s “nothing in this report they are not already intimately aware of”. As if that makes it any better. So it’s paralysis instead of denial then.