IDC: Windows 8 will fuel PC shipments. Me: I think not.

Tech research firm expects PC market to pick up in latter half of 2012

Despite increasing competition from tablets and smartphones, tech research firm International Data Corporation predicts accelerated growth in PC shipments this year. IDC on Tuesday released data from its Worldwide Quarterly PC Tracker showing global PC shipments grew 1.8% last year from 2010. For the current year, IDC predicts a growth rate of 5.0% for global PC shipments. "While the first half of 2012 is expected to see only modest shipment growth, the launch of Windows 8 and the excitement generated by ultrabooks and other ultra-thin notebooks should drive second half sales in a much stronger way," IDC said in a press release. I don't buy it. For starters, if there's some kind of excitement over "ultrabooks and ultra-thin notebooks" that has extended beyond a vendor's CES booth, I'm unaware of it. Maybe it's in the planning stages. Secondly, for all the Windows 8 hype, the new Microsoft OS is being released into an entirely different world than was its predecessor (Windows 7) three years ago, a world dominated by mobile devices. Can Windows 8 really kick-start shipments of a product (the PC) whose era seems to be coming to an end? Then there's Apple's iPad. The third generation of the popular tablet was released last week, and Apple reports it sold 3 million units in the first three days. How many of those new iPad owners are going to run out and buy a PC or ultra-notebook before the end of the year? And, of course, we could see another 3 million to 6 million (or more) people snap up the new iPad in coming months, making the lure of another Microsoft PC operating system slightly less compelling. "Many consumers are holding off making PC purchases at the moment because tablet devices like Apple's iPad are proving to be a powerful distraction," Bob O'Donnell, vice president of Clients and Displays at IDC, said in a statement. "However, end user surveys tell us that few people consider media tablets as replacements for their PCs, so later this year when there is a new Microsoft operating system, available in sleek new PC form factors, we believe consumer interest in PCs will begin to rebound." And I don't see consumers getting very excited at all. We shall see.

Chris Nerney writes ITworld's Tech Business Today blog. Follow Chris on Twitter at @ChrisNerney. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+.

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