Guess What? People Are Still Buying PCs

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Let's face it. There are certain things a tablet just doesn't do very well. (Multitasking anyone?) That's why most consumers still use a computer and Apple ( AAPL) hasn't given up on Macs.

And if you're like a growing number of people, you've held on to your aging desktop or laptop longer than the previous one. It's become achingly slow, but still beats a tablet for working on documents and spreadsheets. It lets you keep 20 tabs open on an Internet browser. It edits video OK and streams movies adequately. You don't really want to buy a new computer.

That's the issue for the computer industry. The machines made in the past five years were built pretty solid with future-minded features. The computer still works so why buy a new one?

"In most cases, people aren't buying laptops, but not because they don't like laptops. It's because what they have, already fits the bill," said David Daoud, research director for personal computing at IDC, a market research firm. "Everyone who needs a laptop has one, or two or three. And they work. They work for productivity, for Excel and Word documents and many or most of the online tasks like Facebook ( FB) and Netflix ( NFLX)."

Computers outsell tablets by nearly 50%. According to IDC, 49.2 million tablets shipped worldwide in the first three months of 2013. Comparably, 76.3 million PCs shipped globally in the same period. Of course, as everyone likes to point out, the number of actual computers sold is declining (down 13.9% from first quarter last year, says IDC) while tablet sales are way up (142.4% growth for the same period), but that's another story.

"The reason why there is a feeling of doom is that it's a replacement market, which has a pretty solid install base of good technology," said Daoud, noting that a friend only just retired his nine-year-old Mac.

As in the past, computers sell when people's requirements change. Enthralled by portability, we bought laptops to replace desktops. Then we upgraded to get a built-in DVD player, Wi-Fi or Web cam. We splurged on wide-screen laptops when HD video emerged.

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