updated 07:20 pm EDT, Tue March 20, 2012
IDC hopeful Windows 8, ultrabooks will save PCs
IDC painted an optimistic picture of traditional PCs in a Tuesday long-term estimate of their shipments. Researchers expected PC shipments to grow just five percent year-on-year in 2012, but pinned most of this sluggishness on the first half, as the iPad and other tablets were a "powerful distraction," IDC VP Bob O'Donnell said. However, a mix of the Windows 8 launch and ultrabooks was assumed to be creating "excitement" that would see a bounce back.
"End user surveys tell us that few people consider media tablets as replacements for their PCs, so later this year when there is a new Microsoft operating system, available in sleek new PC form factors, we believe consumer interest in PCs will begin to rebound," O'Donnell said.
It was nonetheless conservative enough to see PC growth capped at under 10 percent total and gradually declining in a far-ranging prediction to 7.2 percent by 2016. Almost all of that would come from notebooks.
While it's expected that at least Windows 8 will spark a resurgence in PC sales, since some users wait for a new OS as a reason to upgrade, the sustained effect and the impact of ultrabooks are still in doubt. Windows 8's change to use Metro as its default view, even on non-touch devices, could spark worriesWindows ultrabooks so far in the market haven't sold in large numbers, and attempts to significantly undercut Apple's MacBook Air on price have involved selling at break-even.
As with most such estimates, long-term predictions are likely to vary widely and can overlook major wildcards. IDC's smartphone predictions have also leaned in Microsoft's favor and have imagined Windows Phone overtaking the iPhone, which is predicated on assumptions that adding Nokia would be a net positive and that Apple and Google couldn't do enough to stay ahead.