A Windows 8 surge later this year? What are analysts smoking?

IDC predicts PC shipments will go up in second half of 2013 as Windows 8 gains acceptance. Where do these guys get their crystal balls?

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A few months ago, IDC was predicting a 2.8 percent increase in worldwide PC sales for 2013. Three months later, the prediction now stands at a 1.3 percent loss.

In March 2012, IDC predicted "2012 PC growth [will] be modest at just 5.0 percent for the year." In January 2013, IDC reported that PC sales had fallen 6.4 percent in 2012. IDC missed the mark by 11.4 percent in just nine months -- and already had three months of data in the can before making that really bad prediction. Reflecting an amazing case of 20-20 hindsight, in January 2013 IDC said, "IDC had expected the second half of 2012 to be difficult." Nine months earlier, IDC was projecting a 5 percent sales increase. Go figger.

Understand that I'm not dumping on IDC specifically. Gartner, another clairvoyant company in the tech crystal ball industry, has an equally dubious track record, as Ed Bott reported last year.

The simple fact is that nobody has the slightest idea how desktop and notebook sales will go this year. The old equations and modeling scenarios no longer apply. The world's changing fast. Even old definitions no longer apply. (For example, is the Surface RT a PC?)

I'd be willing to go out on a limb. Here's what I think: The computer industry as a whole is roaring -- white hot. Total unit sales of computing devices in 2013 will be higher than just about anything you can imagine. If you accept the Canalys definition of a "PC" (desktops, laptops, tablets, but not phones, and the status of phablets is ambiguous), it wouldn't surprise me a bit to see 15 to 20 percent growth in shipped units between 2012 and 2013. But in the very same breath, I have to say it wouldn't surprise me a bit to see double-digit declines, year-on-year, for desktop and notebook PCs. Yes, that includes Macs.

Let's come back early next year and see if worldwide traditional PC shipments are up 2.8 percent, up 1.3 percent, or down more than 10 percent, year-on-year. Care to make a wager?

This story, "A Windows 8 surge later this year? What are analysts smoking?," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Get the first word on what the important tech news really means with the InfoWorld Tech Watch blog. For the latest developments in business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.

Copyright © 2013 IDG Communications, Inc.

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