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Windows 8 fails to revive world CPU biz

Forecasts scaled back as analysts, trade see continued decline

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IHS iSuppli, a market watcher, has admitted that its expects world PC sales to fall this year even further than it previously thought they would. Whatever the degree of decline, it will mark the first time global personal computer shipments have fallen in 11 years.

In a discussion of world chip sales posted yesterday, iSuppli noted that it is currently anticipating 2012 world PC shipments will fall 7.8 per cent below 2011’s total. Back then, some 352.83 million personal computers shipped worldwide, so that means 325.31m units will do so this year, if iSuppli’s forecast proves correct.

Two months ago, the researcher was predicting a smaller, 1.2 per cent year-on-year decline. The world PC market hasn’t experienced a year-on-year fall in shipments since 2001.

Since iSuppli made its last prediction, it has become clear that microprocessor sales are not picking up. Some observers - not to mention chip makers like Intel and its PC manufacturer customers - hoped that Windows 8’s 26 October launch would inspire a revival in the CPU industry’s fortunes.

This hasn’t happened. NPD, another market watcher, last week said US retail PC sales were down 26 per cent year on year during four weeks after the arrival of Microsoft’s new operating system.

“We still have the whole holiday selling season ahead of us, but clearly Windows 8 did not prove to be the impetus for a sales turnaround some had hoped for,” observed NPD research chief Stephen Baker at the time.

And now the Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA) has revealed that CPU sales were down 25 per cent between September and October by revenue. One ray of sunshine was that this figure is lower than the market’s three-month rolling average 37 per cent slide, but it's clearly not the upward surge the industry was hoping Windows 8 would deliver.

For the chip market as a whole, October revenues and unit shipments were up year on year, six per cent and eight per cent, respectively, mostly on the back of growing memory sales, the SIA revealed. DRAM is already seen to be eclipsing PC sales.

Expect wireless chippery to show growth this year too, thanks to smartphone and tablet sales, added iSuppli. Overall, it expects the chip market will drop just under three per cent, from $310 billion in 2011 to $303 billion in 2012, again a greater decline than iSuppli previously calculated. ®

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