July 16, 2012, 7:59 AM — Anticipation of Windows 8 devices coming out this fall has predictably led to sluggish sales of PCs in the past quarter as customers wait to decide whether they want in on the new operating system, according to an IDC report.
Until they get more information -- and that could mean actually seeing Windows 8 devices -- a significant number of these potential buyers will put off buying, says IDC analyst Jay Chou. "The announcement of a Windows 8 launch date, as well as broader communication of new features in the OS, are key steps that would help to address uncertainty about new product availability and help consumers and channels plan their purchases," he says.
TEST YOURSELF: The Windows 8 quiz
Those plans may be solidified soon, given that Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer says that the new operating system and the Surface tablets that support it will be available in October. Also, the company says the release to manufacturing version of Windows 8 will be available next month, giving decision makers the chance to play with the operating system in its near-final form.
Even so, there are other strong reasons U.S. PC sales dipped in the second quarter of this year and are likely to remain slow in the current quarter, IDC says. These include a saturated market for notebooks, a slowdown in ordering as vendors try to reduce their inventories, and longer refresh cycles among commercial customers. On top of that is the general sluggish economy and low consumer confidence.
"We don't expect PCs using Windows 8 to boost growth significantly until the fourth quarter, which leads to a conservative outlook for the third quarter," says David Daoud, research director for personal computing at IDC.
While overall PC sales dipped 0.1% worldwide compared to the second quarter last year, some individual vendors made significant gains. Lenovo had a 25% increase in sales, bumping it up to No. 2 from No. 3 in sales, IDC says. HP retained its No. 1 spot, but its share of the market dropped from 17.6% to 15.5%. Asus sales jumped 39.8% but it remained in fifth place.