THE PC MARKET has suffered its "biggest decline in history", according to research outfit IDC, which has placed the blame on Microsoft's free upgrade programme for Windows 10.
IDC's latest figures show that worldwide PC shipments totalled 71.9 million units in the fourth quarter of 2015, a year-on-year decline of 10.6 percent. This marks the biggest slump in the market to date, surpassing the 9.8 percent decline recorded in 2013.
However, the research firm noted that PC shipments would have seen a boost of roughly six percent in Q4, or three percent in 2015 as a whole, if 2-in-1 convertible devices were included in the tally.
Still, IDC claims to have the answers for the double-figure drop, saying that it can be blamed on longer-PC lifecycles, competition from mobile phones and tablets such as the iPad Pro, and Microsoft's Windows 10 giveaway.
The firm explained that people saw Microsoft's free upgrade programme as a good reason to delay new PC purchases in 2015, particularly when viewed in light of the surge in PC replacements in 2014 after the end of support for Windows XP.
Linn Huang, research director for devices and displays at IDC, said: "The free upgrade path to Windows 10 allowed some consumers who might otherwise have shopped for new PCs during the holiday season to obtain a 'new' PC experience.
"Additionally, the launch of the iPad Pro may have syphoned off some consumer interest in traditional PCs."
IDC's figures show that Apple emerged as a top five global PC vendor in 2015, claiming 7.9 percent of the overall market in Q4, a 2.8 percent improvement over 2014, although this was not down to sales of the iPad Pro.
Lenovo remains the top dog, bagging over a fifth of all sales despite sales of its PC devices slipping 4.5 percent year over year. HP ranked second with 19.9 percent, followed by Dell and Asus with 14.1 percent and 7.9 percent respectively.
Things aren't looking too good for the PC market at the moment, but IDC is optimistic about 2016, saying that purchases are likely to pick up towards the end of the year.
Loren Loverde, vice president of IDC's Worldwide PC Tracker, said: "PC replacements should pick up again in 2016, particularly later in the year. Commercial adoption of Windows 10 is expected to accelerate, and consumer buying should also stabilise by the second half of the year.
"Most PC users have delayed an upgrade but can only maintain this for so long before facing security and performance issues. We continue to believe that a majority of these users will purchase another PC, motivated by new products and attractive pricing." µ
Plus the cost of ambition as moonshots eat into the coffers
Spoiler alert: it's probably VeriSign
Did we say cuts off? We meant traps them inside their own home