In August, the research firm forecast a 3.8 per cent year-on-year market contraction. However the projection proved optimistic as the market has dropped 8.6 per cent in the third quarter compared to the same period in 2011.
Even taking into account the continued pressure from other products such as tablets and smartphones, as well as uncertainty over the impact of Windows 8 and the economic outlook, IDC was surprised by the market's decline.
"PCs are going through a severe slump," said Jay Chou, senior research analyst, Worldwide PC Tracker. "A weak global economy as well as questions about PC market saturation and delayed replacement cycles are certainly a factor, but the hard question of what is the 'it' product for PCs remain unanswered. While ultrabook prices have come down a little, there are still some significant challenges that will greet Windows 8 in the coming quarter."
The results indicate that the PC market is vulnerable and suffering a loss of mindshare among buyers, said the report. "Until recent years (buyers) have flocked to back-to-school promotions in the third quarter for PCs," it noted.
While China's PC market contracted it was mostly "on target" with IDC's expectations, the rest of the region however came in below expectations.
Japan proved to be one of the region's strongest markets, relative to other markets. Nevertheless, its 3Q shipments still came in below those of a year ago.
Among the world's PC vendors, only those from Asia posted year-on-year growth with Lenovo and Asus both posting growth of around 10 per cent.
Lenovo led the way with growth of 10.2 per cent, drawing the China-based brand closer to taking the global lead away from HP. In the third quarter, Lenovo shipped 13.8 million units, garnering a market share of 15.7 per cent, just behind HP, which dropped 16 per cent from a year ago to ship 13.9 million units, retaining the lead market share of 15.9 per cent.
"Lenovo, despite slowing growth in Asia, continued to register the highest yearly growth among all top vendors," commented IDC. The vendor's methodical approach to building channel partnerships and acquiring key OEM in markets outside of China met with "varying degrees of success".
"Its persistence as well as missteps of its rivals helped Lenovo to maintain a top 5 position in the US, and gain a couple points of share to nearly tie HP for the lead in global shipments."
Acer was the only sizable Asia-based PC vendor to register a decline, dropping 9.6 per cent from last year to ship 8.4 million units, placing it fourth after Dell.
The Taiwanese vendor has struggled to regain growth after the market for low-priced notebooks declined. "However, Acer's aggressive foray into ultrabooks and Windows tablets could help to reverse its fortunes if Windows 8 finds solid acceptance," said IDC.
Dell too faced a tough quarter, shrinking 14 per cent to a shipment volume of 9.4 million PCs in 3Q2012. "Tepid PC refresh activity in the U.S. and EMEA continued to be a key inhibitor for Dell. Although the company has made strides in other areas, with Asia/Pacific becoming its second biggest market after the US, its momentum there has also been curtailed by a cooling market," said IDC.
IDC analysts still remain hopeful that the final quarter of the year will see the PC market grow. ""As vendors line up innovative new products and designs, consumers are likely to respond positively during the tail-end of 4Q12, and that means a potential return to positive growth at the end of this year," said research director, personal computing at IDC David Daoud adding a note of optimism to the report.