The IDC gives up on long term PC growth, but declares Windows 10 the king of detachables

Analyst company IDC has posted their latest 5-year forecast of the Personal Computing Device market, which includes traditional PCs (a combination of desktop, notebook, and workstations) and tablets (slates and detachables), and the company no longer forecasts any growth in this category anymore.

Noting they expect the market to decline through 2021, with no actual periods of growth over the 5 years, they expected combined shipments to fall from 435.1 million units in 2016 to 398.3 million in 2021, which represents a five-year compound annual growth rate of -1.7%. This is an acceleration from their forecast earlier this year, which predicted only a 0.8% shrinkage in the market.

The picture itself is, however, a bit more nuanced, with much dynamic change being hidden by the overall decline in the market.

The Notebook and Mobile Workstation segment of the market is expected to grow to 40.7% of the market by 2021, as the traditional desktop market slowly declines. Apart from 2018, notebook PCs show small but steady year-over-year growth throughout the forecast.

Detachable tablets (such as the Surface Pro and iPad Pro) and convertible notebooks (such as Lenovo’s Yoga series), which represent newer more versatile designs, will be the fastest growing segments in PCD with a 5-year CAGR of over 14%. Ultraslim notebooks (such as the Surface Laptop) are also expected to continue to grow quickly, with a CAGR of 11.8% through 2021.

The other relative bright spot in the forecast is the commercial segment, which stabilizes in 2017 and shows growth in 2019 and beyond.

“Looking at the PCD market collectively can be challenging because of all the different product category trends that are unfolding,” said Ryan Reith, program vice president with IDC’s Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Device Trackers. “When looking at tablets we continue to expect that category to decline as the appeal of slate devices diminishes and life cycles for these devices look more like those of PCs 4-5 years ago. Detachable tablets will continue to grow, but we’ve reduced the short-term forecast on the assumption that OEMs are making a slower transition from notebook PCs to detachables than previously expected. The good news for this space is that both consumers and commercial buyers are opening up to Windows 10, and we are already at a point where Windows detachables represents more than 50% of shipments in the category. This should continue throughout the forecast.”

The numbers still show slate tablets will outnumber detachables, but detachables (such as the Surface Pro) will grow from 12% of the tablet market in 2016 to 28% of the tablet market by 2021.

“The traditional PC market continues a steady transition to newer slim and convertible designs,” said Loren Loverde, vice president with IDC’s Worldwide Personal Computing Device Tracker and Tracker Forecasting. “Nevertheless, commercial and particularly consumer users continue to stretch the life of older PCs – constraining their spending and spreading usage across a portfolio of devices. Shipments could pick up if accelerators like economic conditions, adoption of gaming, VR, and Windows 10 speed up, but even in the best case, overall growth would likely remain limited.”

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