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PC market expected to post steepest decline ever in 2013

Shipments will drop 10.1 percent this year, with another decline expected for 2014, according to IDC projections.

While demand for traditional PCs declines, things are looking up for Windows-based tablet/laptop hybrids.
Sarah Tew/CNET

The global market for personal computers will post its greatest yearly contraction on record this year, with little hope for a significant near-term recovery, according to new projections by market researcher IDC.

PC shipments will drop 10.1 percent in 2013, steeper than the researcher's previous projected decrease of 9.7 percent, IDC reported Monday. Shipments are expected to decline another 3.8 percent next year before a slight uptick in the longer term.

Interest in PCs is limited, with little growth expected beyond replacement of existing systems as consumer interest continues to shift toward tablets and smartphones. Commercial PC sales are expected to fare better than the consumer market, due largely to better PC investment planning and companies replacing Windows XP systems as the aging OS nears its end of support next April.

"Perhaps the chief concern for future PC demand is a lack of reasons to replace an older system," Jay Chou, a senior research analyst for Worldwide Quarterly PC Trackers at IDC, said in a statement. "While IDC research finds that the PC still remains the primary computing device --for example, PCs are used more hours per day than tablets or phones -- PC usage is nonetheless declining each year as more devices become available. "

While the projections raise long-term concerns for PC makers like Hewlett-Packard, there was a bit of good news for Microsoft's Windows platform, which is expected to get a boost from growth in the market for laptop/tablet hybrids. The Windows-based tablet market is expected to ship 39.3 million units in 2017, up from less than 7.5 million in 2013, IDC said.

"Relative to a PC market size of roughly 300 million units, these Windows tablets would add just a couple percent a year relative to PC growth," Loren Loverde, vice president, Worldwide Quarterly PC Trackers, said in a statement. "Even so, these Windows devices are projected to account for 10 percent of a combined PC and Windows tablet market by 2016 -- making them an important growth segment for the PC ecosystem."