PC Sales Are Plummeting and Prices Are Dropping

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Sales of personal computers just had the sharpest decline since records started being kept. .

Are PCs a dying breed? New data from a tech tracking firm show sales for the first quarter of 2013 dropped twice as much as experts predicted, Reuters says.

Sales tracking firm International Data Corp had forecast a 7.7 percent drop, but sales actually plummeted 14 percent to 76.3 million units. Another sales tracking company, Gartner, said sales had dropped 11 percent.

The cause of the decline: touch-screen devices. Casual users are moving to tablets and smartphones for their computer needs. From the Reuters article:

“Consumers are migrating content consumption from PCs to other connected devices, such as tablets and smartphones,” said Mikako Kitagawa, an analyst at Gartner. “Even emerging markets, where PC penetration is low, are not expected to be a strong growth area for PC vendors.”

Companies heavily invested in PCs recognize the trend and are trying to adjust – hence the mobile-optimized Windows 8, and touch-screen laptops, which can often be separated from their keyboard and used like a tablet. But those solutions have their own problems for PC makers.

An analyst from IDC says when people look at Windows 8 computers for the first time, they think a touch-screen is required to use them. Because those devices are more expensive than regular PCs, they put off purchasing.

A touch-screen isn’t necessary to use Windows 8, but some of the changes to the operating system can be inconvenient without it.  The new start screen which replaces the mouse-friendly Windows menu may alienate users, and some apps and controls are harder to find, CNET says. (Once you master that, though, it’s supposed to be a lot like Windows 7.)

While touch-screen PCs can cost hundreds of dollars more, IDC says prices for computers without touch-screens continue to fall. “Sub-$500 PCs will account for nearly half of all PCs shipped by 2017,” the firm predicts.

Stacy Johnson

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