Windows Laptop Sales Plunged In 2012 - Will CES 2013 Turn Things Around?

6 January 2013, 4:28 pm EST By Alexandra Burlacu email: Mobile & Apps

A new report shows 2012 as a dismal year for laptop sales, with Windows sales down 11 percent on a year-over-year basis during the holiday season.

While some expected this downfall, the numbers bear bad news for Microsoft nonetheless. Windows 8 PC sales are not faring all that well, and the general consumer trend to seek lower prices is not helping. The 2013 International CES that runs from Jan. 8 through 11 in Las Vegas is expected to boast cool new Windows 8 machines, but will they make a big enough splash to turn things around?

On Friday, Jan. 4, new data from NPD confirmed what many had suspected: Windows 8 holiday sales in the U.S. were far from impressive. According to the market researcher, Windows laptop "holiday unit sales" saw an 11 percent decline year-to-year. Meanwhile, the average selling price for a Windows laptop did not become more accessible, but gained $2 to $420, noted NPD.

"Despite the hype, and hope, around the launch of Windows 8, the new operating system did little to boost holiday sales or improve the year-long Windows notebook sales decline," said the analyst group.

The downward trend for PC sales, however, was expected, as the market saw a continual shift to tablets and smartphones. With smaller, more portable devices replicating the basic functions of PCs, laptops are no longer in high demand.

Microsoft might have hoped to at least keep sales flat with its new Windows 8 operating system, but failed nonetheless. Windows laptop sales have been declining steadily in 2012, and it remains to be seen whether the array of Windows 8 systems flooding the CES tech-fest will be able to make any difference.

Windows laptops with touchscreens made up 4.5 percent of Windows 8 notebook sales, with an average price of $700 per unit. Meanwhile, sales for Windows notebooks under $500 declined 16 percent, and systems priced above $500 climbed four percent.

However, it was not just Microsoft that went through a bad period. Apple's MacBooks saw a drop in sales as well, though not as sharp. MacBook sales slumped six percent, but at the same time the average sale price of a MacBook unit climbed $100 to $1,419. This means that higher prices might make up for the drop in sales. Moreover, the Cupertino giant is also selling heaps of iPads and iPhones, which makes the MacBook sales decline even less tragic.

With a tech industry increasingly centered on smartphones and tablets, it was inevitable that the PC market would take a hit. Microsoft even made its first foray into hardware with its new Surface tablet, but the giant still depends on the success of its operating system. While Microsoft will not participate at CES 2013, several PC makers including Asus, LG, Intel, Samsung, Intel, and Lenovo will carry the Windows 8 flag with their new offerings. Will the new laptops and hybrids be able to boost Windows laptop sales? Only time will tell.

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