The road to recovery for personal computers (PCs) has been challenging coming off explosive years in 2020 and 2021, but signs of growth are finally returning, according to the International Data Corporation (IDC).
The IDC Worldwide Quarterly Personal Computing Device Tracker finds that PC shipments are forecast to grow 3.7% year over year in 2024 reaching 261.4 million shipments. This shipment volume will be higher than the 259.6 million in 2018, but still below 2019 levels.
According to the analysts, the industry 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. As a result, 2023 shipments are forecast to decline 13.7% year over year to 252 million units.
Jitesh Ubrani, Research Manager for IDC Mobility and Consumer Device Trackers, says, "Consumer demand remains tepid at best as the segment continues to face economic headwinds."
"Consumer demand for PCs also faces challenges from other devices including smartphones, consoles, tablets, and more, marking 2023 as the year with the greatest annual decline in consumer PC shipments since the category's inception."
The commercial PC market is getting very interesting for several reasons, the report highlights. From a processor standpoint the analysts state the market is arguably seeing some of the biggest shifts in commercial PC history with AMD reaching 11% share in 2022 and Apple just over 5% in 2022.
Additionally, the introduction of generative AI has all IT decision makers questioning where to prioritise budgets. And while AI-capable PCs are not ready today, they are coming and have shifted some of the discussion around device purchasing within businesses, the analysts find.
Lastly, the move to remote/hybrid work environments has not gone away and as a result we're still hearing that many companies are listening to the requests of their employees. This includes which brands, types of PCs, and whether multiple PCs are needed for those that are in a hybrid work environment.
Ryan Reith, Group Vice President with IDC's Worldwide Mobile and Consumer Device Trackers, says, "These days it's hard to have a conversation that doesn't involve AI and where and how to invest."
"Commercial PCs will remain interesting for years to come with technology advances adding an extra element to decision making, but it's important to remember that Windows 10 end of support comes in 2025 and this will drive commercial refresh regardless of whether companies are waiting on more advanced PCs or just needing to update an aging installed base. It seems clear that Apple sees an opportunity to continue its growth in the commercial segment and this will be an angle to watch closely going forward."
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