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PC sales have experienced the steepest decline in two decades of record keeping, plunging a huge 14 percent in the first three months of the year.

The 14% drop in Q1 2013 marks the steepest decline in PC sales since International Data Corp started publishing sales numbers in 1994, and current sales may be even more dire as users increasingly turn away from desktops in favour of smartphones and tablets.

Total worldwide PC sales fell 14% to 76.3 million units in the first quarter of this year according to analyst firm IDC, far beyond its initial forecast of a 7.7 percent drop.

It was the fourth consecutive quarter of year-on-year declines, while tablet sales are also continuing their meteoric rise at the expense of their PC forefathers.

The figures meant PC sales were at their lowest level since mid-2009, according to Gartner, whose own figures showied an 11% decline in comparison to IDC's 14% figure.

"In the first quarter of 2013, it was the fourth consecutive quarter that showed a drop in worldwide PC shipments," said Mikako Kitagawa, principal analyst at Gartner.

"Consumers are migrating content consumption from PCs to other connected devices, such as tablets and smartphones. Even emerging markets, where PC penetration is low, are not expected to be a strong growth area for PC vendors.

"Consumers are migrating content consumption from PCs to other connected devices, such as tablets and smartphones," he said.

"Even emerging markets, where PC penetration is low, are not expected to be a strong growth area for PC vendors."

The tepid reception for Microsoft's latest flagship OS Windows 8 will also likely result in an even greater drop in the market this year, according , IDC senior research analyst Jay Chou.

"Users are finding Windows 8 to offer a compromised experience that doesn't excel either as a new mobile interface or in a classic desktop interface," he said. "As a result, many users find a decline in the traditional PC experience without gaining much from new features like touch.

"The result is that many consumers are worried about upgrading to Windows 8, to say nothing of business users who are still just getting into Windows 7."

Meanwhile as we previously reported global device shipments are set to hit 2.4 billion this year, with the number of yearly device shipments to outnumber the earth's population if current trends continue.

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David Swan

David Swan is a tech journalist from Melbourne and is iTWire's Associate Editor. Having started off as a games reviewer at the age of 14, he now has a degree in Journalism from RMIT (with Honours) and owns basically every gadget under the sun. He also writes for Junkee and Fasterlouder. You can email him at david.swan@itwire.com or follow him at twitter.com/mrdavidswan

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