PC shipments in Q1: steepest decline ever


April 10, 2013

Global PC shipments dropped by 13.9 percent, over Q1 of last year

Global PC shipments dropped by 13.9 percent, over Q1 of last year

When PC sales continued to slump last year, a common line of thinking was “wait for Windows 8.” Well, we waited ... it came ... and now things are even worse. International Data Corporation (IDC) just released global shipment data for the first quarter of 2013, and PCs celebrated Windows 8’s arrival by having their worst quarter ever.

IDC’s data speaks volumes. Compared to Q1 of 2012, worldwide PC shipments were down 13.9 percent. The year-to-year drop is the biggest since IDC started tracking PC shipments (it took up the hobby in 1994).

HP's worldwide shipments fell more than 23 percent. Dell's dropped by 10 percent. Lenovo is the only major PC manufacturer that didn’t see a decline from last Q1 – and it just broke even.

Who's responsible?

There are a few things going on here. The global economy still isn’t in the greatest shape. No money, no expensive PCs. Windows 8 also hasn’t exactly captured customers’ imaginations the way Microsoft hoped it would.

Bob O’Donnell, IDC’s VP of Clients and Displays, minced no words when discussing Windows 8:

    At this point, unfortunately, it seems clear that the Windows 8 launch not only failed to provide a positive boost to the PC market, but appears to have slowed the market. [...] Microsoft will have to make some very tough decisions moving forward if it wants to help reinvigorate the PC market.

But the biggest culprit is much more obvious. Mobile devices. They’re like a swarm of leeches, gnawing away at traditional PC sales. It’s no coincidence that Apple and Samsung are swimming in pools of money, while HP and Dell gasp for air.

The PC lives ... just not the way it used to

As always, this will spawn a bevy of “Death of the PC” headlines. The more level-headed view, though, is that people still use PCs. They just don’t upgrade them as often. And why would they, when they're spending less time behind the desk in front of a PC and more time on the couch or in bed holding an iPad, Galaxy, or Kindle?

Mobile hasn’t killed the PC. And it probably won’t anytime soon. But it sure has pushed it to the sidelines.

Source: IDC

About the Author
Will Shanklin Will Shanklin is Gizmag's Mobile Tech Editor, and has been part of the team since 2012. Before finding a home at Gizmag, he had stints at a number of other sites, including Android Central, Geek and the Huffington Post. Will has a Master's degree from U.C. Irvine and a Bachelor's from West Virginia University. He currently lives in New Mexico with his wife, Jessica. All articles by Will Shanklin

This is just another shift in technology like we have been seeing for decades. A few years ago our enterprise surpassed the 50% mark as laptops overtook desktops and it cont. to shift to mobility. No surprise that tablets are shifting into the laptop and desktop arena. But to say this is the end of the PC is ridicules in that tablets can be ARMs running iOS or PCs running Windows 8. PC is simply a architecture, not a form factor.

Rann Xeroxx

Things have gotten increasingly smaller and more portable though the history of computing.

PC > Laptops > netbooks > tablets/phones etc.

I hate to say it as a PC die hard (full keyboard, mouse, and 2 monitors is the way I roll) but I don't see things improving significantly in the near future.

The current generation of gaming consoles is from 2005 so PC's from 2013 offer once of the best gaming platforms available but it doesn't seem enough to boost sales.

A new generation of gaming consoles from Sony and MS at the end of the year would offset one of the largest reasons people have for needing upgraded PC hardware.

Even though I am sure the next version of windows will probably be an improvement over Windows 8 there is an uphill battle.


PC's remain essential tools for doing real work. Perhaps the PC software manufacturers lost the plot: 1. Upgrades that cannot run old programs. Is WinXP still the greatest competitor to Win8? If yes, I know why. 2. PC's becoming too intuitive. The user controls the computer, not the other way around. Intuitive software must not be intrusive. 3. Trying to make a computer look and work like a phone/tablet. They separate things with a partial overlap. 4. Linux software is a real alternative. It brings new life to all those old PC's. (Ubuntu fell for #3 above). 5. In the old days anyone who just needed a browser, email, and a few simple games, had to buy a full blown PC. Not any more!


PCs simply lack a 'killer app', and that's largely microsoft's fault. Win8 was basically designed o make your desktop look like a tablet, and what's the point of that when you can buy a tablet for a fraction of the price?

If PCs are going to make a come back they will need a new way for the user to relate to them, which means new and cheap interface technology that tablets and phones can't match. 'True 3D' via headtracking could easily do it. Or some kind of projected touch-screen on your desk that used finger tracking. Or anything that I'm not thinking of.

Something that turns sitting by yourself at a desk into an advantage, rather than a detriment.

John Routledge

I think part of it is because Windows 8 is really not a desktop PC operating system, but a tablet operating system. Yes, you can switch to an old style desktop, but it is a half hearted thing. The main feature of Windows 8 is the tile mode and that is clearly aimed at tablets (you simply dont want to operate a desktop PC with finger gestures, you just dont). So now we have an operating system aimed at the PC market that is totally unfit for the task. How was that supposed to boost PC sales? Whoever thought that should be fired!

Elmar Moelzer

I think Threesixty made some good points.

I like Windows 7 but Windows 8 is too much like a tablet OS than a desktop OS. I think Win XP is perfect for netbooks and other similar size computers. I think it would be neat if Microsoft improved Win XP (not with bloat but actual improvements) and rename it Win NB since it is good for smaller computers (doubt they will do it since it makes too much sense).

Win 8 tries too much to be a tablet OS than a desktop OS. I have Win 8 on a notebook computer. I think the 'start' screen does not really belong on a notebook computer (especially since mine does not have a touch screen). I might try eComStation on it. (an updated version of IBM's OS/2 Warp).

While ReactOS is still being developed, it shows a lot of promise; especially for smaller and/or older computers. It would be neat to try it on one of my older netbook computers.

IMO; I think it could be the bloated Windows OS that could be killing off the PC (personal computers are not limited to just using Windows yet one associates PC with Windows).


You are dead-on Threesixty.

My home computer is an eight year old HP desktop with XP. The processing power can now be bought in a smart phone, but I can't run AutoCAD on a smart phone. Even my work computer is a six year old Dell workstation running Vista.

RE your point (5.), desktop computers are now mostly business machines, but the companies making them are still trying to cater to the old customers that have moved on to tablets and smart phones.

As a computer programmer, I could use a new desktop computer, but based on what's available from the major manufacturers, I will probably have to go back to making my own.


If by PC you mean the big lug sitting on the desk, and does not even include the notebook, then by all means it is dying. My house has one 5 year old PC and will no longer be upgraded or replaced, as we have three notebooks and don't need it anymore. Even my older relatives are replacing their PC's for a notebook.

If not, and this article did include notebooks into the equation when talking about declining sales, then I wouldn't call it pushed to the sidelines, it is just crossing paths as more and more of those notebooks are becoming touch-based and foldable. I think soon notebooks will become small enough and lightweight enough that they will simply be PC-equivelent tablets with detached solid keyboards for the heavy business user, and the Smart TV's with their internet connection and media boxes will cover the family multi-media usage.

With more processing power in your dual-core mobile phone than NASA had to reach the moon in 1969, and with HDMI Full-HD video quality available on almost all devices, I think it is simply a matter of saturation, and the PC has nothing more to offer.

Samer Helmy

For years my PC's (laptops) lasted little more than a year, now the one I have is over 3 years old and still going strong. I still prefer it hands down to my Galaxy S3.


PC sales are down because tablet sales are up. If PCs want to gain market share they need to slim down, literally. Gone are the days when people will be happy with a huge or even moderate sized separate box. This is the 21st century, and peeps need to start thinking that way. Im not a fan of Macs, but their current all-in-one 27" platform is something to drool over (were I ever to use a Mac again) If I could get a high end all-in one PC with a large screen I would. I currently use Aurora ALX with a 27" screen. While the monitor is nice, the oversize alienware is just too much. Next one Ill be getting is going to have to be smaller, much smaller. So gimme a high performance all-in one of good size and great performance for affordable price and Im sold...


I think you guys are missing the point. A desktop computer does not have to be small, it has to be big and powerful. It should have so much power that it makes a tablet or smaller look like a slow toy with a small screen and poor sound. It also is not portable and it should not try to be one.

Why is it not portable? Because it has a HUGE screen. When all desktops have 8K UHDTV screens and sound systems then people will not be thinking about using their laptops to view films or use the programs that make sure of this much space.

"8K UHDTV (4320p), a resolution of 7680 × 4320 (33.2 megapixels), 16 times the pixels of current 1080p HDTV, which brings it closer to the detail level of 15/70mm IMAX. NHK advocates the 8K UHDTV format with 22.2 surround sound as Super Hi-Vision." Wikipedia

I use art programs and they could all use a monitor like this or even something 4 times better. So could most book viewing programs, spread sheets and many other applications. Also why should a screen be so small that only one app is seen at a time?

Also the big names in Hollywood need to take the breaks off high capacity DVDs. We need a DVD that holds one terabyte and costs what something like this should, a few cents and are easily recordable. Fear of pirates and change are holding the desktops down. Faster Internets would also be a great boon to all.

Great big screens, at least 7680 × 4320 at least on meter wide if not two, great surround sound and massive storage and speed is what could bring the desktops back. A bit of really good AI might be nice too. All this should be well integrated with the TV, stereo, phone, skype and household devices and security. Portable dumb terminals in house might also be a boon.

Douglas Knapp

95% of consumers would prefer a more mobile and lighter device (phone, table, notebook or laptop) to the bulk of a PC. 95% of business needs (running corporate software and systems) require servers and mobile devices won't do.

PC's are for work where mobile devices are more for play (and some work off course, but work by individuals, not running corporate software).

PC's will not dissapear. The consumer part of PC sales however will continue to take a nosedive. Eventually it will happen with laptops and possibly tablets once we solve the issue with limited screen sizes on smartphones. If you have a smartphone with a built in projector or a HUD, most consumers will abandon tablets too. And a wrist-worn device could replace a smartphone, and so on.



If you are going to build your own I recommend using to choose your parts. It makes building and selecting parts a lot simpler if you have not done it recently.

There are forums on that site if you have questions and there is always which is a pretty active community for PC building.

I recommend it over Dell or HP to techies because those companies charge a lot for upgrades once you stray from their base setups. Returns are easy enough if you buy through Amazon now that its probably easier to support your own junk than to call HP/Dell for problems. If you tell me your requirements/budget I would be happy to recomend a build as well and a lot of people on buildapc will do this too.


Thanks Diachi.

I haven't built a computer in ten years. I am sure these web sites will be useful. Searching through hardware compatibility lists was always a pain. As for requirements and budget, I am just looking for the most bang for the buck in the $1k-$3k range. Also relatively low power for the performance. The GeForce GTX 690 looks like a good place to start. Over 3,000 CUDA cores and only a few hundred watts. I will probably build a system around this.

My current video card has 16 CUDA cores; not enough for to test bandwidth limitations for neural net simulations or PCA.


Microsoft was under the assumption that everyone wants a tablet so Windows 8 is clearly a tablet OS. Most people are not buying it because it is made for a tablet. Microsoft should give users the option if they are using a destop or a laptop of turning off the Metro look. Secondly, Microsoft and even Apple assumes everyone wants to live in the cloud. We don't! Microsoft's 360 will if it has not already be a flop. I don't want to purchase an application that will not run on my PC. I don't want to put all my stuff on someone else's server. People want to have the right to choose, and if you try to channel them into your way of thinking they will not buy the products.


Microsoft only needs to make better copies of OSX and things will work out just fine :)

Yet, the way smartphones and tablets are getting more powerful by the year, it won't be long before we'll only need a smartphone and a docking station for all our needs (Ubuntu for Android, anyone?), plus some centralised storage (like a NAS) for our storage needs.

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