IDC predicts continued shrinkage of the PC market through 2018

A chart showing declining PC sales

Source: IDC

The PC market continues to decline, and new projections from IDC say that tech watchers shouldn’t expect it to stop any time soon.

The research firm announced today that it’s predicting that worldwide PC sales will shrink by 6 percent in 2014 to almost 296 million units and will continue to drop for at least the next four years. While PC sales last year did see a slight spike in the fourth quarter, IDC said in its report that those sales were primarily tied to people replacing Windows XP, which Microsoft will be dropping support for in April.

It’s more bad news for a market that has been decimated by the ascension of tablets like the iPad. PC sales have been particularly impacted in emerging markets, falling more than 11 percent year-over-year, as tablet makers have been able to produce low-cost machines that give users many of the features they want without a PC price tag.

Still, the market may hit rock bottom in the near future. IDC is projecting that the sales decline will taper off by 2018, though their analysts aren’t optimistic about a rebound in growth. While emerging markets have been responsible for much of the PC market’s past sales growth, Loren Loverde, IDC’s Vice President for Worldwide PC Trackers, said that he doesn’t see PC growth reaching much above flat in those markets.

Shrinking PC sales are going to hurt Microsoft as the company is still working to make a transition away from its traditional power base with Windows PCs and move into the devices and services market. In a recent interview, former CEO Steve Ballmer admitted that the company missed entering the smartphone market.

Here’s a breakdown of the firm’s projections:

Source: IDC

Source: IDC