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Computers

PC market expected to face more pain in 2015

Researcher IDC cuts its forecast for PC shipments, saying more needs to be done to help the market stabilize.

Desktops and laptops have seen some gains in 2014, though IDC doesn't expect that to last. Sarah Tew/CNET

Here comes more bad news for the personal-computer market.

On the same day Intel cut its quarterly outlook by nearly $1 billion, researcher IDC trimmed its forecast for worldwide PC shipments this year. It now expects a drop of 4.9 percent to 293.1 million PCs, compared with its prior view of a 3.3 percent decline. That drop would mark the fourth consecutive decline for the market, according to IDC.

The PC market appeared to be stabilizing in 2014 on improved demand in mature markets, following two tough years for the industry. But, desktops and laptops still face plenty of challenges, as mobile devices -- particularly smartphones -- take up more of consumers' attention and budgets.

In dollars, the PC market is expected to keep declining, falling 6.9 percent this year from $201 billion last year. By 2019, the market is expected to fall to $175 billion, IDC said.

A benefit for PCs is that tablet growth has slowed to a crawl, so the tablet isn't cutting into PC spending the same way it was in past years. IDC analyst Jay Chou said PC makers have done more to make their computers desirable when compared with mobile devices.

"Nevertheless, much more needs to be done," Chou added. Emerging markets are more likely to shift to mobile devices and not PCs, according to IDC.

Microsoft is coming out with the Windows 10 operating system later this year, so that is expected to bring more interest to the PC. Also, Intel plans to come out with a new processor that could increase interest. Still, both those catalysts aren't coming until the second half of the year, so the first half of 2015 may be difficult for those in the PC world.

IDC and fellow researcher Gartner have varied in their recent forecasts and estimates on the PC market. For instance, while IDC said PC shipments in 2014 fell 2.1 percent, Gartner said the drop was just 0.2 percent, claiming a "slow, but consistent improvement" for PCs.