New market research has many technology experts thinking the era of the personal computer (PC) is coming to an end as consumers worldwide begin to embrace tablet computers and smartphones.
According to the market research firm, International Data Corporation
(IDC), global shipments of PCs during the first quarter of 2012 was off nearly 14 percent from a year ago, nearly double the forecast decline. It marked the worst quarter for personal computers since IDC began tracking the PC market in 1994.
IDC put much of the blame on the sluggish PC sales on the Windows 8 operating system software, which Microsoft had hoped would merge some functionality of tablets with PCs.
"At this point, unfortunately, it seems clear that the Windows 8 launch not only failed to provide a positive boost to the PC market, but appears to have slowed the market," said Bob O'Donnell, an IDC vice president. O’Donnell said radical changes to the user interface, the removal of many traditional Windows features and higher costs have “made PCs a less attractive alternative to dedicated tablets and other competitive devices”
The drop in shipments reflects earlier research by Gartner, Inc.
, which noted sizeable drops in PC shipments this past January.
“Tablets have dramatically changed the device landscape for PCs, not so much by ‘cannibalizing’ PC sales, but by causing PC users to shift consumption to tablets rather than replacing older PCs,” said Mikako Kitagawa, principal analyst at Gartner.
IDC said some of the sluggishness can also be blamed on restructuring efforts at HP and Dell, two major PC producers.
"Although the reduction in shipments was not a surprise, the magnitude of the contraction is both surprising and worrisome," said David Daoud, IDC Research Director, Personal Computing. "The industry is going through a critical crossroads, and strategic choices will have to be made as to how to compete with the proliferation of alternative devices and remain relevant to the consumer.”