Just three months after saying the personal computer market this year would be worse than it previously predicted, research firm International Data Corporation on Thursday offered an even gloomier assessment of the business.

Worldwide PC shipments are now expected to fall by 9.7 percent in 2013 compared with 2012, it concluded, "further deepening what is already the longest market contraction on record."

That represents a significant downgrade from May 28, when IDC said the year-over-year drop would be 7.8 percent instead of the 1.3 percent drop it had forecast earlier.

The latest downgrade stemmed from the continued popularity of smartphones and tablets at the expense of desktop PCs and notebooks, IDC said, as well as a sudden drop in PC sales in emerging-market countries, which previously had been PC strongholds.

"Aside from stubbornly depressed consumer interest, 2013 also marks the first year where emerging regions are expected to contract at a steeper rate than mature regions," IDC said. "Leading this trend is China's revised forecast, which calls for a double-digit decline in shipments this year compared to 2012."

IDC expects worldwide PC shipments to drop from 349.2 million in 2012 to 315.4 million and then slowly rise to 319.8 million in 2017. That's bad news for PC maker Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) of Palo Alto as well as other PC-dependent companies such as Silicon Valley chipmakers Intel (INTC) and Advanced Micro Devices.


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In a separate report this month, IC Insights, which tracks the chip industry, warned that "the falloff in standard PC shipments is a major problem for Intel and AMD since they have supplied more than 95 percent" of the microprocessors used in PCs since the 1980s.

Contact Steve Johnson at sjohnson@mercurynews.com or 408-920-5043. Follow him at Twitter.com/steveatmercnews.