Most analysts, and not just those at IDC and Gartner, expect that the PC industry will continue on a negative turn though at least 2014, maybe also into 2015, then stabilize at around 300 million machines annually. That's a far cry from "Peak PC," identified as 2011, when the industry shipped a record 364 million systems. Few see those glory days returning.
Annual shipments of 300 million would put the PC business on the same footing as in 2008, more than a year before the appearance of Apple's iPad, which kicked off the tectonic shift from personal computers to tablets.
Microsoft will release its fourth quarter earnings figures on Jan. 23, but its new reporting format, changed to reflect the corporate reorganization that started last summer, has made it much harder for analysts to parse Windows' revenue.
PC shipments plummeted 10% in 2013, but the worst of the downturn should be over, IDC and Gartner said Thursday. The year's number was almost the same as that for 2009, the last before Apple launched the iPad and turned the industry upside down. (Data: IDC.)
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