Why it matters: Market intelligence company IDC is once again forecasting the future of the technology industry. The PC market is poised to experience a record decline this year, but it will get much better in 2024.
Consumer demand for PC devices is "tepid" at best, and shipments are set to experience a 13.7% decline in 2023. The latest forecast from IDC confirms that the industry is facing some of the hardest challenges since the category's inception, with the greatest annual decline in consumer PC shipments expected by the end of this year.
In 2023, IDC says, shipments will go down to 252 million units. The industry is stuck in a noxious mix of concerns around the consumer refresh cycle, education budgets not rebounding in many markets and other economic troubles. Demand for different devices such as smartphones, tablets, gaming consoles and more is also contributing to the PC market's steep decline.
While 2023 will be a record negative year for the industry, IDC is forecasting a rebound by the next year. PC shipments will grow by 3.7% year-over-year in 2024, with 261.4 million units arriving on the shelves. This kind of shipment volume will be higher than the one experienced in 2018 (259.6 million), IDC says, but still below 2019 levels.
Despite the setbacks, IDC analysts are describing the PC market to be in a very interesting position for several reasons. The processor business is seeing some of the biggest shifts in history, with AMD reaching an 11% market share and Apple going up to 5% in 2022. Generative AI is of course becoming the main focus for PC hardware manufacturers too, pushing IT "decision makers" to question when and where they are spending the money.
AI-capable PCs are not ready today, IDC remarks, but they are coming. Purchase decisions have likely been influenced (and postponed) by this very reason alone. The debate around hybrid or remote working has not gone away, and many companies are still listening to their employees' requests. Which means that the aforementioned decision-makers will soon need to choose which brands, PCs and form factors are needed for those working in a hybrid or remote environment.
Commercial PCs will remain interesting "for years to come," IDC analysts say, with many technology advancements providing extra hurdles and uncertainties. Furthermore, 2025 could provide a new boost to the aging PC market as Microsoft will end official support for the Windows 10 operating systems.