Holiday sales of PCs dip for first time in 5 years: IDC

PC sales

Holiday-season sales of personal computers fell for the first time in more than five years, according to tech industry tracker IDC, as Microsoft Corp's new Windows 8 operating system failed to excite buyers and many instead opted for tablet devices and smartphones.

The slump caps a miserable year for PC makers such as Hewlett-Packard Co, Lenovo Group and Dell Inc , which saw the first annual decline for more than a decade with no immediate signs of relief.

"The sense is that until Windows 8 is fully installed and prices start to come down, we will be in this state of negative dynamics in the PC market," said Aaron Rakers, an analyst at Stifel, Nicolaus & Co.

In the past, a new operating system from Microsoft tended to stimulate a spurt of new PC sales, but PC makers simply did not get enough attractive machines into the market, said IDC.

"Lost in the shuffle to promote a touch-centric PC, vendors have not forcefully stressed other features that promote a more secure, reliable and efficient user experience," said Jay Chou, senior research analyst at IDC.

This year could be better, he suggested: "As Windows 8 matures, and other corresponding variables such as Ultrabook pricing continue to drop, hopefully the PC market can see a reset in both messaging and demand in 2013."

PC makers sold 89.8 million units worldwide in the fourth quarter of last year, down 6.4 percent from the same quarter of 2011. That was slightly worse than expected by most.

For all of 2012, 352 million PCs were sold, down 3.2 percent from 2011. That was the first annual decline since 2001, according to IDC.

IDC is forecasting a meager 2.8 percent growth in PC sales for 2013.

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