The PC market isn’t declining quite as badly as everyone expected

Windows 8.1

The best thing about bad news is that it can frame subsequent news in such a way that it looks quite good. And so April’s announcement that PC sales declined at their fastest rate ever in the first three months of this year is tempered by the suggestion that the situation might not be so bad as all that.

The latest IDC reports show that the PC market has shrunk 7.6% in the last three months. Tons. But the research group had expected notably worse: about 9.5%. So what’s happened?

None of that damage reduction came from ASUS or Acer, who frighteningly sold just over a third fewer units than during the same period last year, when Windows 8 was busy launching. And the PC market in Europe, the Middle East and Africa did nothing to improve on IDC’s forecasts, contracting “amid an ongoing budget shift to tablets”.

Japan fared better, however, thanks to some economic improvement, favourable exchange rates, and in part the oncoming expiration of Windows XP support – though buyers have “suppressed” their old consumer spirit.

And in the US, the PC market “continued to show signs of recovery”. Shipments were down a scant 0.2% compared to 2012. HP lost no ground in its top market spot, and Lenovo recorded a surprising 25.8% increase in sales over last year. A greater selection of Windows 8 PC is partly to thank for all that, apparently.

81.6 million units were shipped across the world, boosted late on in the surveyed period by “business purchases” and increased uptake of Windows 8.1 machines in September.

Be under no illusion, though: things are a bit grim. IDC see a “high probability that we will see another decline in worldwide shipments in 2014”, and that means still fewer parents’ PCs for teens to play games on. What do you make of that?

Thanks, Techcrunch.