PC hardware sales drop worldwide as tablets continue to rise, report finds

Thursday, 10th October 2013 11:18 GMT By Dave Cook

PC hardware sales have declined worldwide as consumers make the jump to tablets, a new research report has suggested.

A study by research firm Gartner finds that Q3 PC hardware sales have declined 8.6% year-on-year, with some 80.3 million PC rigs shipped globally. It’s the lowest the figure has been since 2008. The figure takes into account units sold to schools, offices and for other business-related uses.

The paper also shows that iOS and Android tablet devices are rapidly gaining ground as the new hardware of choice for those studying and for general use.

In a statement, Gartner’s Mikako Kitagawa said, “Consumers’ shift from PCs to tablets for daily content consumption continued to decrease the installed base of PCs both in mature as well as in emerging markets. A greater availability of inexpensive Android tablets attracted first-time consumers in emerging markets, and as supplementary devices in mature markets.”

Despite the continuing drop, Lenovo, HP and Dell all saw their sales increase in the quarter, with Lenovo still the number one seller worldwide.

Kitagawa continued, “The positive U.S. results could mean that seasonal strength and channel fill for new product launches in 3Q13 finally overcame the structural decline. Even though 3Q13 shipments were compared with artificially weak 2Q13 because of inventory control for the Windows 8 launch at the time, the 3Q13 results imply the U.S. market may have passed the worst declining stage, which started in 2010.

“The shrinking installed base of PCs has also passed the steepest decline phase because the structural change has progressed fairly quickly. Tablets will continue to impact the PC market, but the U.S. PC market will see a more moderate decrease rather than a steep decline in the next two years.”

European, Middle Eastern and African markets saw a combined decrease in PC sales of 13.7%. it is believed that new processors and the impending launch of Windows 8.1 have contributed to this reluctance to buy new hardware.

Gartner’s Isabelle Durand concluded, “During the third quarter many vendors went through product transitions to Intel’s new Haswell and Bay Trail processors, while preparing for the October launch of Windows 8.. These product transitions and the clearing of old inventory that is taking place through the third and fourth quarters of 2013, have played a part in the slowdown of the PC market in EMEA. Many PC vendors also introduced Android tablets as a main part of their portfolios and this initiative drove PC sales downward.”

What do you make of the figures above?




  1. Erthazus

    Microsoft need to do it right with Windows 9 otherwise it’s going to be the same POS.

    #1 1 year ago
  2. Dave Cook

    @1 I’ve never had an OS crash so much as I have with Win8. Works well on my touch-screen though.

    Running an HP Envy laptop and it’s a lovely machine otherwise.

    #2 1 year ago
  3. Erthazus

    @2, I think it is too early to judge Win8 at this point.

    Wait for Service packs.

    #3 1 year ago
  4. Dave Cook

    I can judge it as it stands now, but yeah OSs are growing services. I’m optimistic it’ll improve, but it has caused me a great deal of problems so far. I lost an entire interview yesterday for example. Not good.

    #4 1 year ago
  5. Ireland Michael

    I said this very same thing a month ago, and was told the PC wasn’t under any sort of threat.

    The PC is an outdated design concept, useful only for specific people and niche purposes. This fact will only become even more pronounced over time, as tablets get increasingly more powerful at significant cheaper prices.

    People say its consoles that are under threat of becoming obsolete. No, that would be the PC.

    #5 1 year ago
  6. Dave Cook

    @5 I think saying PCs will become obsolete is also a stretch.

    #6 1 year ago
  7. Erthazus

    PC is not under any threat. Tablets and mobile devices are something new but they will never do the job like the PC or MAC in terms of multimedia and stuff.

    Everyone has a PC and not everyone has a tablet. It’s a natural thing.

    #7 1 year ago
  8. povu

    Many gamers are using custom built machines that they upgrade over the years, because it’s much easier to do that these days. None of that is counted in these hardware sale statistics.

    The main issue for gaming I suppose is that there is less opportunity to attract non-gamers to PC gaming because many no longer have a straight up PC to run PC games on. Still, PC gaming on laptops is possible too, and I doubt tablets will fully replace laptops.

    #8 1 year ago
  9. Kalain

    At the bottom of every table there is this piece of text:

    Note: Data includes desk-based PCs and mobile PCs, including mini-notebooks but not media tablets such as the iPad.

    I don’t see any sales for tablets in this report. So without those numbers to compare, this data is just useless.

    As for PC’s being under threat, no, consoles are more under threat than PC’s. At this moment in time, you need a PC to be able to develop the applications/games/OS on which is more than you can say for consoles.

    When tablets start hitting the power of the consoles, which isn’t that far off to be honest, then which direction are people going to go. Buy a £400 box that sits under your TV or a £400 tablet/phone which you can take with you and carry on playing/doing what you need to do. I know which I would prefer..

    #9 1 year ago
  10. Ireland Michael

    @6 The PC will always have its place for certain purposes, such as high end PC gaming and processor intensive stuff, like multimedia editing and coding.

    But as a household mainstay that everyone has? Those days are over.

    @9 This is not the first study to reach this conclusion. PC sales are currently at the lowest they’ve been in years, by a *very* steep margin.

    #10 1 year ago
  11. nimrod123

    no mention of the other side of this?

    the number of PC units selling is dropping, BUT the unit price is sky rocketing.

    the average PC build to day is in the region of 2000USD according to sales numbers (weighting of parts sold)

    tablets have culled the low end of the PC market, but they certainly haven’t killed the concept of a PC

    #11 1 year ago
  12. FabioPal

    @10 yeah, this might not be the first study to reach this conclusion, but as long as they count “rigs” and not “hardware” these studies are not going to make any sense.

    They’re trying to consider the PC as a product, which it isn’t.

    #12 1 year ago
  13. TheWulf

    Windows 8 — it stands to reason and was to be expected. Microsoft themselves wanted to move people to tablets, so that they could sell more Surface devices, thus the OS was rendered to be familiar to tablet users as opposed to existing OS users.

    This lead to people not buying new computers, because they’d come with the disease known as Windows 8. We saw the same lull with Vista until the service packs came along, but things didn’t truly pick up again until 7. This is just the way of things. When the pre-builts are carrying rot as an OS, the consumer will look elsewhere. They’ll look to smaller stores who’re still offering Windows 7 (likely not covered by this report), they’ll try their hand at building a computer, or they’ll stick with their own machine seeing no reason to upgrade.

    And honestly, considering that DirectX 11 and OpenGL are still leagues ahead of other systems in regards to what they can do (including proper realtime tessellation). There’s no killer app in regards to new DirectX features in Windows 8, so what’s the point of upgrading your OS anyway?

    What happens then is that reports like these look at brand name computers carrying the rot that is Windows 8, and they don’t take into account people buying elsewhere.

    The PC is dying!

    The sky was falling back around the time of Vista, because we saw these exact same lulls. Every time a stinker of a PC OS is released, we’ll see them. In fact, even Microsoft realise it’s a stinker because they’re having Ballmer step down, someone else needs to take that madman’s place.

    So hopefully Windows 9 or Valve’s SteamOS will shake things up. If they do things right then people will start buying brand name computers again.

    It’s the way of things.

    #13 1 year ago
  14. pcbros

    Isn’t the tablet just another form of the PC? Desktops, laptops and tablets are all personal computers.

    #14 1 year ago
  15. TheWulf

    They’re trying to consider the PC as a product, which it isn’t.

    Bingo. I’ve talked about this before. It’s a collection of modular products which work together. This is why I never got into the brandslave mindset of one brand to rule them all, one brand to find them, one brand to bring them all, and in the fine print bind them. :P

    Now if only other PC users would realise this. That’d be nice.

    #15 1 year ago
  16. TheWulf


    Yeah, pretty much. The problem is is that tablets are limited by their OS at the moment. All except for one of Microsoft’s, that is. And there we see the reason behind Windows 8. Their high-end surface tablet was meant to be their take on a cross between a computer and a console.

    So, yeah, pretty much. But the games still all aren’t that great, sadly. A lot of that has to do with the lack of good input mechanisms.

    #16 1 year ago
  17. TheWulf


    But as a household mainstay that everyone has? Those days are over.

    Don’t go into a sociopathic rage over this, but I’m going to disagree with you, okay? Okay? Don’t freak out.

    Okay. I think that they still are, and laptops definitely are. The reason for this is the comfort of using the Internet is heightened by having a keyboard and mouse at your disposal. Pretty much every household is going to have some kind of computer, and if that computer is capable of anything modern, it’ll at least be capable of indies.

    That’s the thing, there’s a computer in every house because of the collaboration of inputs and outputs. Monitors, speakers, keyboard, and mouse. Until something else matches that, the comfort of having a PC is still going to be desirable.

    #17 1 year ago
  18. Ireland Michael

    @17 *goes into a sociopathic rage*

    #18 1 year ago
  19. Templar_Dante

    Wow. The fight against consoles are the least of the pc master race problems! Quick, go tell Ellen, Oprah and others with wife-influence worldwide that pc’s are still awesome!
    Just kidding, guys.
    As a university student… I DETEST Ipads, android tablets and the like. I fail to see the practicality of them. I hope there is a re-surgence of the pc in the future!
    ……wont be holding my breath!

    #19 1 year ago
  20. _LarZen_

    Why would people buy a traditional PC when a tablet can do everything they need?

    I do not think any OS can change this, even if Win9 becomes a wonderful OS I cant believe it will make people suddenly go buy a laptop or a stationary PC.

    They don’t need it…

    The only reason I have a stationary PC is because of games. And when most people play on a console it’s no wonder the manufacturers sell less. And most people that play on a PC build it them self.

    #20 1 year ago
  21. deathm00n

    @20 I hope you are talking about PCs for personal uses. Good luck giving corporatives tablets to make their work, or a programmer.

    #21 1 year ago
  22. runbmp

    I’m not sure why they’re comparing both. I have many friends and family members who simply buy a new laptop or tablet when something breaks.

    On the other hand, if the keyboard breaks on their pc. IE keyboard, they just replace the physical part.

    On mobiles, not so much, as their life cycle is much quicker…they normally get more wear and tear.

    I think Gartner et all, are all getting stiffy’s because they know that revenue wise, its much more lucrative if users are outright replacing their PC.

    I have a surface pro and alienware laptop, and they surely don’t come even close of my desktop experience.

    #22 1 year ago
  23. pcbros

    Tablets are not replacing desktops, they are becoming desktops. They are just laptops in smaller packages and laptops are just desktops in smaller packages.

    #23 1 year ago
  24. _LarZen_

    @21 Yes of course :)

    #24 1 year ago
  25. GrimRita

    I cant remember the last time I actually purchased a PC. But I have custom built almost everything with an update for my graphics card due in December.

    If anyone says that the PC gaming market is dead because of this, they need their heads tested.

    PC sales in the UK will be lower, because we dont have a Labour government giving out free money for stupid IT software and hardware.

    #25 1 year ago
  26. DSB

    Once again TheWulf goes into fullscale denial.

    We haven’t seen a slump like this since 1994. You want to blame that on Vista too?

    Ireland Michael is way too pessimistic, on the other hand. Typing and surfing on a tablet still isn’t as efficient as a desktop, so I don’t see how tablets would compete 1:1 in the workspace, but the fact that people are apparently willing to suffer it to avoid being benched at a desk still makes it a very real threat.

    The PC isn’t going to die off unless tablets are able to compete on functionality, but even if the tablets are “just” assuming a few tasks like checking e-mail, communicating and surfing, that will obviously still leave a gaping hole in the PC market, and with less money to go around, it’s gonna be felt for sure.

    The good news for gamers is that the sale of gaming hardware is up something like 10-13% at the moment, which is the best it’s been for something like a decade – And given that it’s happening even while people are abandoning PCs as typewriters and e-mail consoles, I think it shows that PC gaming is still pretty attractive to gamers.

    #26 1 year ago
  27. fearmonkey

    Erth is right in that we won’t roll out a new OS till at least the first service pack. That is a typical IT stance. Only 10% of my company runs Windows 8 right now, most have it modded to have the startbar included, and only a few have touch screen devices.

    That being said….I dislike it…and I still run Windows 7 at home.

    #27 1 year ago
  28. DSB

    Yeah but Windows 8 with the start bar just feels exactly like Windows 7. I literally don’t see a difference there.

    So paying 100 dollars for something you already have is kinda braindead. Microsoft screwed the pooch, hard.

    #28 1 year ago
  29. pcbros

    Windows 8 is Microsoft’s attempt to make an OS that can scale across different hardware. It’s not a bad idea but it’s not perfect.

    #29 1 year ago
  30. archaven

    The new Microsoft OS is Xbone as previous generations of XBox sold like a hundred millions?

    They have clearly abandon windows.

    #30 1 year ago
  31. Pytox

    I dont need Win8 i rather stay with win7 thank you

    #31 1 year ago
  32. Ireland Michael

    A PC gamer is not the average PC user. The hobby is under no threat, and I never said it was.

    @23 Disagree. The similarities are basic at most. They’re machines that run programs. That’s where the similarities end.

    The whole convenience of a tablet is… the convenience. They removed every inconvenience the PC possesses. I don’t want to wait for my machine to boot up, or sit stuck to a desk chair, or deal with driver issues and crashes and memory issues and serious viruses. I want to chill out on my couch, click a button, and watch Netflix..

    @24 I did try to stress the fact that PCs will continue to serve a professional purpose and hobbyist interests (gaming, multimedia), because that’s their main strength. But for the average consumer (the majority of people), who just wants to read their emails or check their Facebook or surf YouTube, the PC no longer serves any real practical purpose. The figures back this up.

    Speaking completely anecdotally, almost every kid I know over the age of 10 owns some sort of media device, be it an iPhone, iPad, iTouch, or Android Tablet. Its the Amstrad / Spectrum / C64 / Amiga / PC of this generation. Except for the Minecraft players, none of them care about PCs in the slightest.

    #32 1 year ago
  33. pcbros

    So is the debate that desktops will be extinct soon?

    We keep using the term PC but I’m assuming people are referring to the desktop tower. If so, then my point of view is that they will not be extinct anytime soon but will be less popular. Laptops already made them less popular. Tablets are making laptops less popular, which in turn is making desktops even less popular.

    Also, laptops (generally) and tablets do not allow for upgrading and replacements of all parts, which is a big no-no for some people.

    What I can assure you is that the days of tablets being grampa’s iPod Touch are slipping away. Tablets will function more like laptops/desktops (some already do). To date, Windows 8 and Ubuntu (Linux) are offering full desktop experiences on a tablet.

    Either way, PC gaming lives on, whether through desktops, laptops or tablets.

    #33 1 year ago
  34. fearmonkey

    Tablets are great for quick surfing but certainly not a replacement for a real laptop/desktop, unless you have a surface Pro.

    The problem is that for most people, a Dual Core CPU from 2006 handles their needs, they don’t need new PC’s every few years as it used to be. I was constantly upgrading until I got a system based on a Intel E6600 Core Duo, then I didn’t upgrade for 5 or 6 years. I replaced a few parts but didnt buy an entirely new system.

    Computers hit a spot where it was just good enough except for power users, business users, and gamers. For everyone else a old computer will do and a cheaper tablet to surf on.

    In the old days ID or Epic would release a new engine that would require a new video card or CPU, faster memory, etc. This would cause gamers to be building a new system ever 2 to 3 years. As I mentioned above, I built a system with a E6600 that had a Asus 8800GTX and that died, bought a 280GTX and later bought a 480GTX for the same machine.

    Last year I bought a new system and will be using that for awhile, probably upgrade the video card next year or so depending on the jump in power from the current Ati7870.

    Unless something comes along that requires a ton of new power, a new Crysis, ID Engine, etc etc, gamers will be just fine with the quad cores for quite awhile.

    #34 1 year ago
  35. DSB

    @33 I’m pretty sure laptops are included in the PC figures.

    The real concern here isn’t the survival of the PC, because it still serves a purpose. I think the drop means the market is in the process of finding a new normal where PCs just aren’t as relevant as they used to be. The stuff Michael mentions is going to be owned by tablets. Facebooking/YouTubing/news/e-mail, which is not the be-all and end-all, but is pretty huge in its own right. People used to buy PCs to do that stuff.

    The concern is really that it’ll send some companies over the edge. AMD and Nvidia have razor thin margins on what they sell because the research and manufacture of something like GPUs or CPUs is so incredibly expensive.

    So with less money to go around, you really need a product that everybody wants. Failing to sell huge amounts of units is gonna be very rough on those companies.

    Intel are sitting pretty, because they’re bigger than God. They’re like the most boring company in the world, and that is extremely clever. They’re the Toyota of hardware. Whatever you need, they have the car for you.

    #35 1 year ago

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