Reports of the PC's death are greatly exaggerated, says IDC
Demand may be 'tepid at best' but analyst sees return to pre-2019 levels next year
The PC market is expected to return to growth in 2024, according to estimates from IDC analysts.
Still, industry players might want to taper their enthusiasm. PC shipments are forecast to grow 3.7 percent year-on-year to hit 261.4 million units in 2024, putting them above 2018 levels, but not quite on par with 2019 demand. Meanwhile, 2023 is predicted to sink by 13.7 percent to 252 million units.
Research manager Jitesh Ubrani called demand "tepid at best" and said 2023 will be the year with the "greatest annual decline in consumer PC shipments since the category's inception."
IDC recognizes the market still faces challenges including "concerns around the consumer market refresh cycle, businesses pushing device purchases forward, and education budgets that are not rebounding in many markets."
Market hesitancy, as always, boils down to uncertainty. For one, processors are seeing what IDC called "some of the biggest shifts in commercial PC history" as AMD market share hit 11 percent in 2022 and Apple pulled in just over 5 percent that year.
Apple device sales have been on a decline for multiple quarters now. Q1 2023 saw new Macs plummet more than 40 percent year-on-year, compared to an overall 25-30 percent among PC vendors. The quarter before that saw Apple shipments outperform the PC market as a whole, declining a mere 2.1 percent while other manufacturers experienced 37 percent reductions.
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Other unknowns affecting the PC market are generative AI, which has IT managers confused about how to spend their budget, and lingering indecision on remote work and hybrid work arrangements.
"While AI-capable PCs are not ready today, they are coming and have shifted some of the discussion around device purchasing within businesses," said IDC.
Bracing for design changes to accommodate AI might seem dramatic, but the shift is already occurring when it comes to datacenters, with Meta and Tesla among those reevaluating their designs and cooling mechanisms.
Another factor driving commercial PC refreshes in 2024 and into 2025 is the end of Windows 10 support. Microsoft is slated to retire the operating system in October 2025. ®