For PC manufacturers, 2013 was a tough year — but 2014 might be slightly better.

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Source: Gartner

Shipments of PCs fell 6.9 percent worldwide in Q4 2013 compared to the same period in the previous year, according to a new report by Gartner, marking the end to a year that saw what the research firm is calling the worst sales decline in the history of PCs.

Still, there’s a silver lining in that cloud: Gartner thinks that the decline in the PC market is closing in on hitting bottom in developed markets.

“Although PC shipments continued to decline in the worldwide market in the fourth quarter, we increasingly believe markets, such as the U.S., have bottomed out as the adjustment to the installed base slows,” Mikako Kitagawa, a Principal Analyst at Gartner said in the company’s report. “Strong growth in tablets continued to negatively impact PC growth in emerging markets. In emerging markets, the first connected device for consumers is most likely a smartphone, and their first computing device is a tablet. As a result, the adoption of PCs in emerging markets will be slower as consumers skip PCs for tablets.”

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But while things are looking up in the future, the present is pretty bleak. The decline of PC sales was even more marked in the U.S., which saw a 7.5 percent decline in PC shipments from 2012.

The skies aren’t universally falling, though. Apple, Dell, and Lenovo all saw gains in the U.S. Q4 2013, with Apple’s sales growing by more than 28 percent year over year. Companies are trying out new form factors, including “convertible” laptops that act as both PCs and tablets, as well as units that run Google’s Chrome OS, much to Microsoft’s frustration, in the hopes that new products will help carry them out of the tablet-induced sales doldrums.

What do you think: has the PC market hit bottom, or is there still a ways to go? Let us know in the comments.

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  • Guest

    When one includes ‘blets with PCs, the PC market is more vibrant than ever. Full-functioned ‘blets, a subgenre pioneered with the modern Microsoft Surface and which will be renamed “Problets” following iPad Pro’s announcement this month, are incredibly fertile and will continue to grow throughout the decade.

    In conclusion, Problets are the answer. We are optimistic that 2014 is the year of the Problet and PC convergence into the Problet sector will bear much fruit.

  • Sad to say it

    Microsoft and Windows 8 is probably 90% responsible for this reduction. And MS’s continued insistence that the world change to it rather than building product the world wants and the new technology allows just means this reduction will not stop, rather exacerbate while former customers find alternatives. It is really sad the havoc MS is wreaking on its ecosystem.

    Now get ready for more MS and Ballmer trolls …..

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