IDC lowers its market outlook for PCs and tablets

Global PC shipments will fall by 8.7% this year; tablet shipments will decline 8%

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Lenovo's ThinkPad P70 workstation is one of the first laptops to offer Intel's Skylake processors. 

Credit: Rob Schultz

IDC has revised its 2015 forecasts for the PC and tablet markets, saying shipments in both will fall more than it had anticipated due in part to economic challenges, a hardware surplus and waning interest among businesses and consumers to upgrade.

PC shipments will slide by 8.7 percent this year and will continue to fall through 2016, marking five consecutive years of declines, IDC said Wednesday. In an earlier forecast, IDC said PC shipments would decline by 6.2 percent in 2015.

A large inventory of notebooks, a strong U.S. dollar, which raises PC prices in other countries, and free upgrades to Windows 10 are hurting PC shipments this year.

A hardware refresh in the commercial market will help shipments stabilize in 2017, but consumer shipments will continue to have slight decreases into 2019.

While mobile devices have been named as culprits for the fall of PC shipments, IDC said that other factors may be in play. Combined volume shipments of PCs, tablets and smartphones are expected to increase only in the single digits through 2019. This could indicate market saturation or the effect of a "good enough computing" mentality among potential buyers, IDC said.

Separately, IDC revised its tablet shipment forecast, calling for shipments to fall 8 percent year over year versus an earlier prediction of a 3.8 percent decline.

One bright spot in the tablet market is two-in-one devices, which can be converted into a laptop. Shipments of those devices will increase 86.5 percent year over year in 2015 with 14.7 million units shipped.

Still, a majority of the 212 million tablets shipped this year will be standard tablets that can't be converted.

A limited selection, high prices and a lack on interest in Windows 8 made businesses hesitant to adopt two-in-one tablets. However, more hardware vendors are manufacturing two-in-one tablets, increasing choices while lowering costs. In the second quarter of 2015, more than 40 vendors are shipping two-in-one tablets, up from 14 two years ago, according to IDC.

Another positive factor was the debut of Windows 10, which is better designed for tablets.

In the coming years, a majority of tablets will run Android, but IDC is forecasting that the OS will lose market share to Windows. In 2019, Android tablets will have a 56.6 percent market share, down from 66 percent in 2015.

Windows tablets, meanwhile, will capture a 17.5 percent market share in 2019, compared with 8.4 percent in 2015. Tablets running Apple's iOS will record a slight uptick in market share, rising to 25.9 percent in 2019 from 25.5 percent this year.

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