PC sales plunged by the biggest decline ever in the first three months of the year, according to figures from analyst firm IDC.
Figures said that sales of desktop and laptop computers had fallen 14% to 76.3 million worldwide in the first three months of the year, almost twice as big a drop as expected and the sharpest decline since IDC began tracking shipments in 1994.
Family computing has increasingly been driven on to tablets and smartphones, however the firm said Microsoft's latest version of Windows had failed to revitalise the industry. IDC said that while recession had played a part in companies putting back the renewal of their PCs, the latest Windows software failed to inspire the market.
Analysts said that Microsoft's new Windows 8 actually deterred potential PC buyers as users felt they could not afford touch-screen models required to make the most of the new system.
It appears users are simply uncomfortable with the system, which lost the familiar start menu and replaced it with colourful tiles to represent applications.
The decline in the PC market wasn't only felt by Windows PC vendors. Even Apple wasn't immune from the decline, as Mac sales appeared to be displaced by iPads. Its US computer sales fell 7.5% in the quarter.
Hewlett-Packard, the world's largest maker of PCs, saw a 24% fall in shipments in the first quarter compared with the same period a year ago.
In some places, the downward turn is the new normal: The U.S. has posted smaller shipments year-over-year in nine of the last 10 quarters. Globally, the first quarter is the fourth consecutive to record fewer shipments than the year before.
Although the reduction in shipments was not a surprise, the magnitude of the contraction is both surprising and worrisome. The industry is going through a critical crossroads, and strategic choices will have to be made as to how to compete with the proliferation of alternative devices and remain relevant to the consumer.
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