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Report: PC shipments to dip 5% in 2015, prices expected to rise, tablet growth has slowed

The state of PC shipments is more downbeat than originally expected, but there are positive long-term signs, according to a new report from International Data Corporation (IDC). Two notable tidbits in the report are that tablet purchases have slowed and that average prices of PCs in the near term will rise.

Worldwide PC (desktop and portable) shipments will decline by 4.9 percent in 2015, according to the market intelligence firm. This reflects a more pessimistic outlook than IDC’s original forecast of a 3.3 percent decline.

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A total of 293.1 million PCs are expected to ship in 2015 – 125.5 million desktop PCs and 167.5 million portable PCs. In 2019, total worldwide PC shipments are expected to drop to 291.4 million. While worldwide desktop PC shipments are expected to decline from now until 2019, portable PC shipments are expected to rise 1.7 percent to 170.4 million. This is driven by emerging markets, where portable PC shipments are expected to grow 5.8 percent from now until 2019.

IDC PC shipments 2015-2019

In terms of sales, the worldwide PC market hit $201 billion in 2014. This figure is expected to drop 6.9 percent this year, and by 2019 the PC market will shrink to $175 billion, according to IDC.

The report notes that PC demand was inflated in Q4 2014, thanks to inventory buildup of “Windows 8.1 + Bing” systems ahead of the pullback of Microsoft subsidies in early 2015. This elimination of Bing subsidies along with the strong U.S. dollar and the shift toward slim, convertible and touch-based systems will push up average prices in the near term, according to IDC.

“Fortunately for PC makers, tablet growth has slowed,” said Jay Chou, senior research analyst for worldwide PC trackers at IDC. “The PC ecosystem has also begun to see some fruits from efforts to narrow the divide between the PC and mobile devices in terms of both user experience and price points. Nevertheless, much more needs to be done as advances in both hardware and software are expected to benefit an ever wider spectrum of form factors, such as 2-in-1 devices that will further siphon volume from notebooks.”

IDC also expects Windows 10 to have a positive reception, which will improve the experience for users of traditional mouse-and-keyboard PC systems. This will help slow the shift toward touch-based devices, according to the firm.

This outlook is more melancholy than Gartner’s forecast last summer, which declared that 2015 would be a bounce-back year for PC shipments. Strategy Analytics had a rosy outlook for global PC sales in 2015, forecasting a 5 percent increase last fall.