IDC analyst: PC shipments may have peaked in 2011

Ready for more doom and gloom about the PC industry? Okay, then how's this: an IDC researcher quoted by ComputerWorld believes PC shipments may have peaked... two years ago.

As the site points out, global PC shipments reached 96.1 million units in the third quarter of 2011. Since then, they've done nothing but inch down. According to Bob O'Donnell, a member of the IDC team that tracks PC shipments, "It's very possible that that was the peak."

O'Donnell also told ComputerWorld that the PC industry might wind up stabilizing at 20% below the "Peak PC" threshold, or about 290 million units shipped each year. "That could be the level, stable reality," he says. The figure is quite a bit lower than IDC's recent forecasts. In May, IDC predicted predicted that PC shipments would decline from around 349 million units in 2012 to 322 million in 2013, followed by a turnaround some time around 2015. Shipments were expected to inch up to 333 million in 2017.

This is all informed speculation, of course, and there are many unknowns. According to ComputerWorld, though, the next several quarters may determine how things shake out. Both IDC and rival research firm Gartner reportedly agree that, "[i]f shipments recover next year, 2013 could prove to be the rock bottom." A continued decline through 2014, however, could prove "debilitating for any business that overwhelmingly relies on the traditional desktop-plus-notebook model."

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