Windows 8 PC-tablet 'mesh' to go slowly, says IDC

Windows 8 and ultrabooks should spur global PC shipment growth in the latter half of the year, but don't expect the market to catch fire.

Lenovo Yoga hybrid ultrabook.

Global PC shipments are expected to pick up in the second half of the year, but Windows 8-based ultrabooks will go through a period of trail and error, market researcher IDC said.

The launch of Windows 8 on ultrabooks should drive stronger second-half PC shipment growth after a weaker first half, IDC said today.

For the whole year, worldwide PC growth will be a modest five percent with most of the growth occurring in the latter half of the year.

"Many consumers are holding off making PC purchases at the moment because tablet devices like Apple's iPad are proving to be a powerful distraction," according to Bob O'Donnell, vice president of Clients and Displays at IDC.

But IDC doesn't see tablets as replacing PCs outright. "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."

Nevertheless, the PC market risks falling further and further behind the Apple tablet phenomenon if analogous designs don't emerge in force.

"2012 and 2013 will bring significant challenges for Microsoft and the PC community," said Jay Chou, senior research analyst at IDC. "Windows 8 and ultrabooks are a definitive step in the right direction to recapturing the relevance of the PC, but its promise of meshing a tablet experience in a PC body will likely entail a period of trial and error, thus the market will likely see modest growth in the near term," Chou said.

IDC's growth forecast for China has been lowered to 9 percent, the first time single-digit growth has been forecast for a year. "Part of the adjustment amongst emerging markets comes from the shortage of disk drives, which greatly impacts white box PC manufacturers who play a prevalent role in these markets," IDC said.

Worldwide PC shipment growth for 2011 ended on a slightly positive note, growing to 1.8 percent on the year.