PCs will decline in ’23 by the most in 40 years, IDC says

The ups and downs of the PC market for the period starting before Covid up until today continue to be a sign of the larger economy.

For all of 2023, shipments are now forecast by IDC to be down by nearly 14% over last year, with growth of nearly 4% in 2024. Expected decline overall is 13.7% while the consumer segment demand is down 16%, marking the largest annual decline in consumer PC shipments in the history of PCs, going back four decades to the early 1980s.

PC sales climbed during the early years of the pandemic as work was done from home, but shrunk in mid-2022 until today.

IDC had projected a 13.4% decline in July, slightly less than the August forecast. In that earlier projection, IDC tallied a sixth straight quarter of PC contraction.

RELATED: Apple survives decline as overall PC segment sees sixth quarter of contraction

Tepid consumer demand is to blame for much of the decline. For the commercial PC sector, the introduction of generative AI has led IT managers to question how to prioritize their budgets, with many putting dollars into servers and perhaps not new PCs.

Also, AI-ready PCs are not available today, but are coming, which has some commercial buyers holding off purchases, IDC said.

“These days, it’s hard to have a conversation that doesn’t involve AI and where and how to invest,” noted Ryan Reith, group vice president at IDC, in a statement. “Commercial PCs will remain interesting for years to come with technology advances adding an extra element to decision making.”

Even so, Reith reminded the commercial sector that Windows 10 support comes to an end in 2025, which will drive some commercial PC refresh, regardless of whether companies are waiting for more advanced PCs.

Consumer demand is “tepid at best,” said IDC research manager Jitesh Ubrani who also noted that PCs face competition from smartphones and other devices.

The latest data from IDC shows a forecast for 2023 of 252 million PCs to ship.  Of that tally, consumer will total 112 million, education will total 31 million and commercial will tally nearly 109 million.

IDC is expecting a big spike in Macs in 2024, up by 20% over 2023, while Windows PCs will climb less than 5%.  Apple Mac sales improved in the second quarter of 2023, while all others declined.