Despite Windows 8.1, PC market prospects aren't pretty

The PC market continued to slump in May. More signs of worse-than-expected negative growth for PCs this year.

HP Spectre XT TouchSmart. More touch PCs with Windows 8.1 are coming but that may not change the outlook for the moribund PC market
HP Spectre XT TouchSmart. More touch PCs with Windows 8.1 are coming but that may not change the outlook for the moribund PC market. Hewlett-Packard

Windows 8.1 may fix Microsoft's dot-zero release but it may not fix the PC market.

After Citi Research revised its PC market growth forecast down to negative 10 percent growth earlier in the month, market researcher IDC chimed in on Friday with a less-than-upbeat snapshot for May.

"May results reflect deteriorating conditions rather than improvement and the market will probably fall short of projections," said Loren Loverde, an IDC analyst in a statement, referring to May regional PC shipments.

"The results for May are behind pace for achieving the projected [second quarter 2013] growth rate," Loverde added.

Currently IDC expects total annual growth of negative 7.8 percent for 2013.

And IDC appears to be preparing itself for possible future growth revisions. While saying on the one hand that it expects an "improvement" in the second half, in the same sentence IDC states that the "market will likely remain cautious about the second half of 2013."

Earlier this month, Citi Research cut its 2013 PC year-to-year growth to negative 10 percent from negative 4 percent growth, according to a note to investors.

"The Citi global technology team is revising down its 2013 PC growth estimate to -10% y/y (from -4%) based on further sub-seasonal demand" in the first quarter and slowing notebook production, the note said.

Citi also included a zinger about Windows 8.1 and Intel's new Haswell chip.

Despite investor optimism on a resumption of year-to-year growth in the second half of 2013, "we do not expect [PC] units to grow" due to a "softening in PC end-demand" and "muted benefit from Haswell and Windows Blue [Windows 8.1]."

About the author

Brooke Crothers writes about mobile computer systems, including laptops, tablets, smartphones: how they define the computing experience and the hardware that makes them tick. He has served as an editor at large at CNET News and a contributing reporter to The New York Times' Bits and Technology sections. His interest in things small began when living in Tokyo in a very small apartment for a very long time.


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