Get real, IDC -- PC sales will plummet in 2014

IDC's current prediction of a 6 percent decline in PC shipments this year doesn't pass the smell test

The numbers are in, and IDC now says that PC shipments will fall by 6 percent in 2014, from 315 million in 2013 to 296 million in 2014. IDC further says that shipments will fall another 1.4 percent, to 292 million units, by 2018. As Loren Loverde at IDC puts it, five-year "growth is expected to stabilize near zero percent, rather than driving increasing volumes."

From where I sit, the prediction is all wet. Unless there's a major shift in the way IDC counts PCs, I expect shipments in 2014 to fall at least 10 percent and probably more. In 2015, one of two things will happen: if Microsoft can deliver a Windows 9 that traditional desktop users (all 1.4 billion of us) can tolerate, then maybe 2015 will level off. If there's no Win9 with a Win7-beating desktop, all bets are off for 2015. In either case, I expect PC shipments will go down again -- significantly -- in 2016 and later.

This prognostication isn't the result of deep crystal ball gazing, advanced navel contemplation, or sophisticated mathematical extrapolation. It's common sense.

One year ago today, IDC predicted "the second half of 2013 [will] regain some marginal momentum partly as a rubber band effect from 2012, and largely thanks to the outcome of industry restructuring, better channel involvement, and potentially greater acceptance of Windows 8. We also anticipate a new refresh cycle momentum in the commercial segment driven by the end of Window XP life support." At that time, the group changed its prediction for 2013 PC shipments, from an increase of 2.8 percent, to a decrease of 1.3 percent. The freshly restated figures from IDC show a 9.8 percent decrease in 2013. Somebody missed the boat. Hell, they missed a flotilla of boats.

We're supposed to believe that 2014 shipments will only fall 6 percent? Pshaw. Somebody needs a wakeup call.

Windows 8 represented a new low for Microsoft on many fronts. Windows 8.1 only saved PC shipments from sinking much faster. Windows 8.1 "Spring Update" offers minor relief -- very minor. Windows XP users are sticking with their "Kick Me" operating system, whether Microsoft likes it or not. Windows 7 -- yes, even running on old hardware -- remains the system of choice for a large percentage of PC buyers, corporate and consumer. OS X is holding its own, while iOS and Android simply take the wind out of everyone's sails.

I'll stick my neck out again this year and predict double-digit declines in desktop and portable PC shipments, 2014 vs 2013. That's the same prediction I made in March of last year, and I don't see the landscape changing one iota. If it weren't for the Mac, which is having its own problems, I'd expect the decline this year would be considerably sharper.

Let's check back near the end of the year and see where we stand with the 6 percent decline prediction. Bets?

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