The PC industry is predicted to bounce back from its post-pandemic decline with a projected growth of 3.7 percent in 2024, according to a report from IDC. Consumer demand for PCs has been affected by various factors, including competition from smartphones, tablets, and gaming consoles. In fact, 2023 experienced the largest annual decline in consumer PC shipments since the inception of the category.
PC sales hit their peak in 2011 with 365.5 million units sold, but then experienced a 7-year decline, reaching a low of 259 million units in 2018. However, there was a slight growth in sales in 2019 and a significant increase to 344.3 million units in 2021 due to the start of the pandemic. Unfortunately, the PC market has faced challenges such as component shortages and decreased demand after a period of heightened sales, resulting in a 16 percent decline in sales in 2022 to 289 million units.
This downward trend has persisted in 2023, with PC sales declining for six consecutive quarters, including a 29 percent drop in Q1 and a 13.4 percent decrease in Q2. IDC predicts that this trend will continue throughout the year, resulting in a 13.7 percent shortfall compared to the previous year, with an estimated 252 million units sold. If this prediction holds true, 2023 will be the worst year for the PC industry on record.
However, there is hope for the industry in 2024, with IDC forecasting a 3.7 percent increase in unit sales to 261.4 million units. While this represents an improvement, it is still below pre-pandemic levels in 2019. Looking further ahead, IDC projects a 1.7 percent growth in 2027, with 285 million PCs shipped, comparable to the amount sold in 2016. It’s worth noting that IDC’s long-term predictions should be viewed with caution due to their inconsistent accuracy.
In terms of future growth drivers, AI capabilities are being highlighted by Microsoft and PC manufacturers. IDC acknowledges that this shift in focus has influenced discussions around device purchasing in the business sector. Other factors, such as the rise of AMD in the market (accounting for over 11 percent of all PCs), the increasing adoption of remote and hybrid work models, and Apple’s presence (holding around 5 percent of the market), will also impact PC sales in the near future. While these factors may have a relatively small impact individually, the growth of commercial PC sales is expected to outpace that of consumer PCs in the coming years.
IDC’s group vice president, Ryan Reith, emphasizes the significance of AI in decision-making processes and highlights the upcoming end of support for Windows 10 in 2025 as a driving force for commercial PC refresh cycles. Whether companies are waiting for more technologically advanced PCs or simply need to update aging systems, this migration to Windows 10 will likely drive commercial sales. Furthermore, Reith suggests that Apple sees an opportunity to further expand its presence in the commercial segment, making it a key aspect to monitor moving forward.