The skies have brightened slightly since March for the beleaguered PC, with sales now likely to fall by just 6% this year, according to research company IDC.
A quarter ago, IDC had forecast a drop of 6.1% for worldwide sales of desktop and portable PCs in 2014. The good news since then has included some recovery in Western Europe and better-than-expected sales in other mature markets, IDC said. In addition, demand is falling for tablets, which often take the place of PCs, and buyers are still replacing older PCs that ran Windows XP.
"The mature market activity is doing better, particularly when it comes to business purchases of PCs," IDC analyst Jay Chou said.
However, the long-term outlook for PCs is still bleak, as PC alternatives such as tablets and smartphones continue to hold down sales. "The transition toward mobile and cloud-based computing is unstoppable," IDC analyst Loren Loverde said.
IDC expects 129.7 million desktops to ship this year, down from 136.7 million in 2013. Shipments of portable PCs will reach 166.6 million, down from 178.4 million, IDC said.
By 2018, portable PC shipments will have gained slightly to 168.3 million, while desktops will fall further, with just 119 million going out in 2018.