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Personal computing market still falling with one exception

11 Mar 2019

Unit shipments for the worldwide personal computing devices (PCD) market, comprised of Traditional PCs and Tablets, are expected to decline 3.3% in 2019, according to a new forecast from IDC’s Worldwide Quarterly Personal Computing Device Tracker. 

The market contraction comes on the heels of 2018, which also saw an overall decline in shipments despite good growth for commercial PCs. 

The decline in shipment volume is expected to continue throughout the forecast period as the market shrinks to 372.6 million units in 2023 with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of -1.2%.

Detachables are expected to grow modestly over the five-year forecast with a CAGR of 4.6%. 

IDC believes this product category will have a stronger impact in the commercial segment as vendors increasingly focus their attention on enterprise and education markets for their sales. 

Chrome-based devices, which tend to be education-centric, are expected to find some traction as more detachable Chrome tablets enter the scene. 

Slate tablets will continue to decline with a CAGR of -4.4% with the market becoming increasingly concentrated towards the holiday quarters. Competition from key players has resulted in more brands reducing their presence or exiting the market altogether.

Traditional PCs will continue along a tough landscape with declining desktop demand offset by emerging notebook opportunities, stabilizing with a slight CAGR decline of -0.4% between 2019 and 2023. 

Some inhibitors that surfaced near the end of 2018 will still be in play in the early part of 2019. 

Though easing up, the CPU shortage may hamper some entry-level device volume. 

Gaming PCs, whose momentum had been building for much of 2018, will also face some short-term challenges as the market works through older GPU inventory and the gaming ecosystem warms up to Nvidia's latest offerings. 

On a brighter note, although the commercial PC market is expected to see a small dip in 2019 compared to the previous year, the commercial notebook forecast has been raised for 2019. 

IDC expects a sizable amount of last-minute Windows 10 migration projects to be completed this year, especially among SMBs with an ageing installed base. 

Finally, advances in the PC experience will drive most of the PCD device conversation, further cementing notebooks as the dominant form factor and taking up nearly 46% of the PCD market by 2023.

"Notebooks/Mobile Workstations and Detachable Tablets are expected to take 53% of all PCD shipments by 2023, a clear majority," says IDC PCD tracker research manager Jay Chou. 

"Even as personal computing takes place on a myriad of devices and emerging venues like the cloud, IDC believes there remains a place for portable devices that can evolve to fit changing tastes while still retaining important but under-appreciated features like a physical keyboard."

"While the long-run PCD market remains in persistent decline, the constitution of the market continues to churn for the better," adds IDC devices and displays research director Linn Huang. 

"And with ray-tracing ramping up and 5G-connected, dual-screen, and foldable devices on the not-too-distant horizon, consumers and professionals will likely find something compelling at the premium end."