There’s still a place in the world where PC shipments are growing—but not for long

Soon he’ll realize that he can play solitaire on tablets, too.
Soon he’ll realize that he can play solitaire on tablets, too.
Image: AP Photo/Rajanish Kakade
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There isn’t much optimism about the market for personal computers (PCs). For the first time, worldwide PC shipments in 2012 declined as compared to the previous year. The numbers will probably be worse this year. The first quarter of 2013 saw the steepest decline in sales, down 13.9% compared to the same period in 2012. Tablets are the main culprit in the slow death of the PC; this year they will outsell PCs globally for the first time.

Yet there is one bright spot: PC sales continue to grow in India, according to the latest numbers from IDC, a market research firm.

PC shipments in India between April and June hit 5.53 million units, up 24% quarter-over-quarter and 30% compared with the same quarter last year. That is quite a jump from Q1 2013, when the corresponding growth rates were a positively glacial 3% and 7.5%.

What accounts for India’s continuing enthusiasm for laptops and desktops? Alas, that is where any newfound optimism must end. A third of the demand in the latest quarter came from government-funded projects. Take that out of the picture and you’re left with weakening organic demand, according to Manish Yadav of IDC. Consumers are showing more interest this quarter, but the dramatic slide of the rupee might lead to higher prices, which if passed on could result in lower sales or vanishing margins.

The rise of tablets in India puts to shame any positive numbers for PC shipments. Unlike in the rest of the world, PC shipments in India actually grew year-over-year in 2012, by 3.5%. Sales of tablets grew by 901%.