This is a tough time for the PC industry. Earlier this week, we learned that shipments declined by almost 5% last quarter alone. Market research firm IDC suggests PC microprocessor vendors are seeing their revenue shrink accordingly; indeed, global revenue from all PC processors reportedly fell by "about 2.4%" between 2011 and 2012.
The slump may be an exception rather than the shape of things to come, however. IDC goes on to say global revenue from PC microprocessors "will grow 1.6% to $40.7 billion in 2013," with global PC microprocessor shipments to rise by 3.2%. The firm also predicts a 3.4% compound annual revenue growth rate for the five-year period from 2011 through 2016. Unit shipments—as opposed to revenue—are slated to grow by 3.2% over the same stretch of time, as well.
Now, the market may not look quite the same by the end of that period. IDC's report includes an interesting prediction: by 2016, 3.3% of all mobile PC processors "will be based on the ARM architecture," the firm says. We're talking about proper mobile PCs here, not tablets or handhelds.
That prediction ties in with some of the rumors we've heard—namely about Apple eventually offering ARM-powered MacBooks. Also, Nvidia is still hard at work on Project Denver, and even AMD is cooking up some ARM-based chips (albeit only for servers, at least for now). The PC processor market may stay healthy for the years to come, but the dominance of the x86 ISA may soon start to dwindle.