Holiday PC sales dip for first time in five years

Thu Jan 10, 2013 9:28pm EST
 
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By Bill Rigby

LAS VEGAS (Reuters) - 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.

It underscores an unspectacular launch for the latest version of the Windows franchise, which Microsoft is banking on to fight off incursions into the PC arena by touch-friendly devices such as Apple Inc's iPad.

"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.

Still, analysts warn against counting out Windows 8 -- the most radical change in the operating system in 20 years -- as consumers grow more comfortable with its tile-based interface and touch features.

In the past, a new operating system from Microsoft tended to stimulate a spurt of 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, even in the face of talk about the death of the PC as tablets are on track to outsell full-featured machines for the first time in the United States.   Continued...

 
Guests are silhouetted at the launch event of Windows 8 operating system in New York, October 25, 2012. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson