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Analysts Expect U.S. PC Market to Shrink for Second Straight Year

To hear manufacturers tell the tale, the sales woes that have been plaguing the PC market will disappear once Windows 8 appears and Ultrabooks find their stride. IDC sings a different tune, however; the research firm just issued a press release predicting that the worldwide PC market will only grow by 0.9 percent in 2012.

Things are even grimmer in the U.S., where IDC expects the PC market to suffer a 3.7 percent decline in overall shipments. If the estimate holds true, 2012 will be the second straight year that the domestic PC market ends up worse-off than it was the year before. Even the traditionally brisk back-to-school buying period has been more bust than boom despite rock-bottom PC pricing, the firm reports.

The deteriorating state of the PC market is being felt in related sectors, as well. Today, IHS iSuppli issued a press release of its owncontaining a revised estimate for global semiconductor sales. Previously, the company predicted a 3 percent growth in the semiconductor market; now, it anticipates a 0.1 percent decline. Why? "PCs and related peripherals are the key market segment pulling down the overall semiconductor market in 2012," the firm writes.

So what's taking bites out of the PC market? The IDC trots out several culprits: a recessed economy, consumer trepidation over buying a PC before the arrival of Windows 8 and the next wave of Ultrabooks, and the ever-present specter of increased mobile adoption.

IDC senior research analyst Jay Chou isn't sure that the market will pick up even when Windows 8 arrives, however.

"Factors such as Windows 8 coupled with Ultrabooks could present a positive turn of events next year, but it also faces some initial hurdles; chief of which is that buyers must acclimate themselves to an operating system that is a dramatic departure from existing PC paradigms," he says in the press release. "The PC ecosystem faces some work to properly educate the market."

All told, the firm expects just shy of 364 million PCs to ship worldwide in 2012, with 155 million of those in mature markets like the U.S. and Europe.