PC shipments fall for first time since 2001

By on October 10, 2012, 4:00 PM

We've been hearing about a supposed post-PC era for some time now while tech pundits have continued to bandy about once unfathomable ideas like the death of PCs. And although PC manufacturers have struggled, the real-world results of hundreds of millions of PCs being shipped year after year have met these ideas with opposition. However, for the first time in nearly 11 years (according to Cnet), annual PC sales appear to be on the decline. At least, that's according to the latest figures from industry analyst IHS iSuppli. Is this finally the descent of the PC?

iSuppli's numbers aren't particularly scary -- shipments are only down by 1.2 percent from this time last year, but it's the first decline since the turn of the century. And although the number is relatively small, when you consider last year's 2.2 percent growth, 1.2 feels just about three times worse than it should. 

Further complicating things though were expectations of increased growth. This expectation hinged upon the economy (supposedly) being on a slow upswing, Intel's fierce push of Ultrabooks amongst other things. In hindsight, we can say that forecasts weren't exactly correct. Manufacturers have shipped about 348.695 million PCs thus far, down from last year's 352.831 million.

It takes more than one data point to reliably discern a trend though, so iSuppli asks some basic questions:

  • What impact will Windows 8 have on PC sales Q4 this year?
  • Will tablets continue their rise in popularity during the holidays, further displacing PC sales?
  • Will the interest in Ultrabooks be quelled by ongoing financial hardship?

We'll have to wait for the answers on those things, but iSuppli believes a "strong rebound" is certainly possible in 2013.

In the meantime, "PC alternatives" seem to be doing just fine. Earlier this year, Forrester predicted that tablets would overtake PC laptops by 2016. Microsoft believes tablets will outsell Desktop PCs by as early as next year.




User Comments: 26

Got something to say? Post a comment
amstech amstech, TechSpot Enthusiast, said:

The post PC era will begin in about 75 years when we don't need them anymore.

Win7Dev said:

The PC era will never be over for enthusiasts like us until you can play Crysis on a <1lb laptop at 240fps on max settings and have battery life of at least 24 hours.

Guest said:

One day consumers will not be allowed to buy hard drives.

They won't be able to modify their systems at all, except by paying for software, or rather paying a monthly fee for access to software.

Wanna play the new Halo? That'll be $5 a month, very small you see, no sweat.

What about Camtasia? Sorry, monthly fee and has a video size restriction.

Indie developers? What are those?

Oh no hard drive I see, well good thing we have a cloud for you, by the way we own the rights to your files.

Hold on to your hardware boys!

PC nerd PC nerd said:

I'll always build my own. I've never bought a prebuilt and I don't intend to.

3 people like this | TomSEA TomSEA, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

Tablets and smartphones aren't PC's. It's ridiculous to compare those two against PC sales. It's even more ridiculous to claim that they'll replace the PC.

Guess it never crossed the survey takers minds that maybe PC sales are flat because everyone already has a damn PC. Just like XBox and PS3 console sales are flat. Whoever wants one already has one. And for regular users, you're only going to replace it once every 4-5 years if that.

I hate these kinds of articles (not TechSpot's fault - you see these types of articles in every news media outlet), because they're just plain dumb and are comparing oranges to tractors.

Guest said:

No more desktop PCs after Dec 21, 2012 !!!

;)

H3llion H3llion, TechSpot Paladin, said:

The PC era will never be over for enthusiasts like us until you can play Crysis on a <1lb laptop at 240fps on max settings and have battery life of at least 24 hours.

Or until they stop catering to desktop machines as we know. I guess in future we will have machines inbuilt in our bodies, so overclocking over onboard chips hoping not to burn up some blood cells if it gets too hot ^^

Cota Cota said:

PC era wont end any time soon, imagine the google servers in tablets or iPads, those packages wont find their destination, ZING!

hahahanoobs hahahanoobs said:

In all fairness, a tablet does 100% of what most people do with a computer at home.

1 person liked this | TomSEA TomSEA, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

"In all fairness, a tablet does 100% of what most people do with a computer at home."

Make that 50% and I'd say you're correct. As example, I type 112 WPM. You think I can get that kind of document creation speed using finger pointing on a tablet virtual keyboard? That's just a start of the things a tablet can't do.

Guest said:

One day we'll just plug a keyboard and a monitor to a tablet for all our cpu needs.

PCs and Laptops might die because of that. the processing plant will shift to the tablet (they're already breaking 1GHz...) and we'll just add peripherals. no need for a tower unless for the uber enthusiasts. even in offices people do this kind of setup with laptops instead of desktops and just plug in external stuff.

TomSEA TomSEA, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

"One day we'll just plug a keyboard and a monitor to a tablet for all our cpu needs."

LOL...so you've just turned a tablet into a PC.

NTAPRO NTAPRO said:

One day we'll just plug a keyboard and a monitor to a tablet for all our cpu needs.

PCs and Laptops might die because of that. the processing plant will shift to the tablet (they're already breaking 1GHz...) and we'll just add peripherals. no need for a tower unless for the uber enthusiasts. even in offices people do this kind of setup with laptops instead of desktops and just plug in external stuff.

LMAO that would suck if you broke your computer because you dropped it

cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

One day we'll just plug a keyboard and a monitor to a tablet for all our cpu needs.

PCs and Laptops might die because of that. the processing plant will shift to the tablet and we'll just add peripherals.

I think I would rather have an All-In-One PC instead, even though I currently despise them. My hatred for All-In-One are mainly due to proprietary hardware but since tablets are just as proprietary, it leaves little for me to complain about. To me having a designated computer is still better than continuously connecting and disconnecting peripherals to a portable device. Portability is nice but if you need a permanent work station, something designated might be desirable.

MrBungle said:

Im going to laugh when we go into the "post mobile era" after everybody that wants a tablet/smart phone has one and there are no tangible benefits to upgrading anymore because the device everyone already has is "good enough"... then they will decide they need a new computer.

avoidz avoidz said:

There's one of these doom and gloom stories every year for PC owners. Tablets and phones don't replace fully functional desktop or laptop systems. Most intelligent users know that. PC ownership has just reached saturation point (and maybe those high hard drive prices don't help either...). PCs are more powerful and versatile and have the best input devices, mouse and keyboard (touch has its uses on the right devices). I can't imagine replacing my desktop with a tablet for serious work or play.

Guest said:

0,001% fall, oooh what a tragedy omg

cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

0,001% fall, oooh what a tragedy omg

I think you need to multiply that value by 1000. The article plainly states 1.2% fall, not 0.001% fall.

But you are right, it's not anything to fuss about unless the trend continues.

Guest said:

We call post PC era if your smartphone can perform tasks equivalent with laptop's or PC's

Guest said:

Yes, fall because must waiting for FM2+APU, watch after again the numbers

,hard disks sell growing big, I think not for tablets

Divvet said:

No more desktop PCs after Dec 21, 2012 !!!

No more anything after Dec 21st 2012 ;-)

Guest said:

As anything else so many variables are influenced by individual consumers and corporate spending habits. The economy for one. Individual home users and small bussiness might be waiting for an upturn, A small or even large bussiness is not going to invest aspecially if he cant see the return in the near future. Many Individuals are waiting until their finances to improve especially if you are out of a job or underemployed (less paying job than before).

Now lets turn to the companies and home users who can afford the cost. The transition from destops to laptop took a while and one big reason is the pace of change both technology and cost. People who have the ability to purchase are usually savy. They look and read up, monitor the trends and may be waiting for more inputs from the industry or cost drops. Hopefully they will have this luxury whithout being forced to purchase, which could be for many reasons. Now comes to the percentages of each group and how they influence sales.

So; all these variables change on a given period of time, a snapshop period of when they normally make these analysis available to the public may be a combation of perfect storm at any given time. Now throw in the 2012 election and many normal stats go out the window. I personally am waiting to see how powerful both the tablets and the ultrabooks will get in reference to cost. I still think they are too expensive standing side by side with a desktop in reference for biggest bang for your buck. I am lucky of not being forced to purchase at this time and I have a very powerful desktop and a netbook that suit my purpose just fine for the time being. I know what many are going to say, they serve different purposes and that is correct to an extent. But there is a significant buying group that are not in dire need all they want is a better and smarter piece of techniology are waiting to jump in and will influece sales that are part of the previously stated reason that are just in wait and see mode. I know I am and many others have expressed similar thoughts. Well so much for that

Guest said:

The notebook is not PC?

The tablet is not PC?

Same thing, peoples, open your minds the lovers of God please.

The mouse died only, not the PC.

Wake up friends please.

cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Same thing, peoples, open your minds

The mouse died only, not the PC.

My mind is open, Microsoft's mind is not.

My mouse is not dead, we are a long way from the mouse dying. I prefer a mouse over touchpad and touchscreen anyday.

RH00D RH00D said:

Yes, tablets will kill off PCs just like television killed the radio. Oh wait.

treetops treetops said:

Tablets and smartphones aren't PC's. It's ridiculous to compare those two against PC sales. It's even more ridiculous to claim that they'll replace the PC.

Guess it never crossed the survey takers minds that maybe PC sales are flat because everyone already has a damn PC. Just like XBox and PS3 console sales are flat. Whoever wants one already has one. And for regular users, you're only going to replace it once every 4-5 years if that.

I hate these kinds of articles (not TechSpot's fault - you see these types of articles in every news media outlet), because they're just plain dumb and are comparing oranges to tractors.

I partly agree but a lot of people who I know have a smart phone and no computer. If it was not for smart phones they couldn't check facebook, email and browse the web. Which seems to be their only interest. So I am inclined to agree that smart phones are the main reason pc sales are down. Maybe more so then the plateau effect (everyone has a pc) because people replace their computers every 4-5 years and in 2007 we likely peaked now the numbers were getting from people buying replacements are down.

Well it made more sense in my head hope it came out right lol

Load all comments...

Add New Comment

TechSpot Members
Login or sign up for free,
it takes about 30 seconds.
You may also...
Get complete access to the TechSpot community. Join thousands of technology enthusiasts that contribute and share knowledge in our forum. Get a private inbox, upload your own photo gallery and more.