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PC shipments set to decline in 2012 for first time in 11 years

October 10, 2012|By Andrea Chang
  • An HP Spectre XT laptop computer featuring an Intel Ultrabook processor at the IFA 2012 consumer electronics trade fair in August. Worldwide PC shipments are expected to decline this year for the first time in 11 years.
An HP Spectre XT laptop computer featuring an Intel Ultrabook processor… (Adam Berry / Getty Images )

The global PC market is having a rough year, with shipments set to decline for the first time in 11 years.

Worldwide shipments are expected to fall 1.2% to 348.7 million units, down from 352.8 million last year, according to information and analytics provider IHS. Not since 2001 has the global PC industry suffered such a decline, the group said.

“There was great hope through the first half that 2012 would prove to be a rebound year for the PC market,” said Craig Stice, senior principal analyst for computer systems at IHS. “Now three-quarters through the year, the usual boost from the back-to-school season appears to be a bust, and both AMD and Intel’s third-quarter outlooks appear to be flat to down.

"Optimism has vanished and turned to doubt, and the industry is now training its sights on 2013 to deliver the hoped-for rebound. All this is setting the PC market up for its first annual decline since the dot-com bust year of 2001," he said.

One problem appears to be the slow adoption of super thin and light laptops known as ultrabooks. Although there was considerable enthusiasm that ultrabooks would revitalize the PC market, they continue to be priced too high for many consumers.

The appeal of smartphones and tablets also appears to be hampering interest in PCs.

Still, IHS says there are signs that a "strong rebound" could still occur in 2013. The group has reduced its forecast for ultrabooks and other ultrathin notebook computers, but said they remain viable products "with the potential to redraw the PC landscape." The release of Windows 8 could also boost the PC market.

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Follow Andrea Chang on Twitter.

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