What does it mean when PC shipments fall?

In the past, a year-over-year dip was enough to get the worrywarts riled up. Companies aren't hiring! Consumers can't afford fancy laptops! Everyone's afraid of catching a computer virus! Lock up your dollars, because another recession is coming!

Well, the 10.7% dip in domestic PC units reported by IDC this week is problematic. However, it doesn't mean that consumers and corporations are shying away from computing. Tablet and smartphone sales are soaring.

This will be of little consolation to PC makers that don't have any kind of serious skin in the game of portable computing. It may be curtains for the netbook. This may also be the beginning of the end of Microsoft's (Nasdaq: MSFT) operating-system dominance.

Consumers who really want computing for the sake of streaming videos, social networking, and swapping emails no longer need to lean on Windows when cheaper Android or iOS gadgetry will do just fine. We'll have to watch this trend in the coming quarters to see whether it sticks, but the first quarterly dip in global PC units since the recession is not a cause for alarm -- unless, of course, you're a PC maker.

Briefly in the news
And now let's take a quick look at some of the other stories that shaped our week.

  • Bringing new meaning to its "Ford Tough" truck slogan, Ford (NYSE: F) is widening its F-150 recall over airbag-deployment concerns. Nearly 1.2 million trucks built between 2004 and 2006 are affected.
  • There's a new bull in China's shop as Jefferies & Co. initiated coverage of search-engine giant Baidu (Nasdaq: BIDU) and new-media darling Sina (Nasdaq: SINA) with "buy" ratings and ambitious price targets.
  • Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) completed its acquisition of ITA Software this week, after regulators approved the $700 million deal -- with concessions -- late last week. And no, one of the concessions isn't that co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin have to fly coach from now on.
  • Arcos Dorados (Nasdaq: ARCO) -- Spanish for "Golden Arches" -- had a winning IPO on Thursday. The Argentina-based McDonald's (NYSE: MCD) franchisee went public at $17 but opened at $21. That's a gain of four Dollar Menu items!

Until next week, I remain,

Rick Munarriz

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Google and Microsoft are Motley Fool Inside Value picks. Baidu and Google are Motley Fool Rule Breakers selections. Ford and Sina are Motley Fool Stock Advisor picks. McDonald's is a Motley Fool Income Investor recommendation. Motley Fool Options has recommended a diagonal call position on Microsoft. The Fool owns shares of Ford, Google, and Microsoft. Motley Fool Alpha LLC owns shares of Microsoft. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz recommends windshield wiper fluid when trying to look back. He owns shares of Ford and is part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. The Fool has a disclosure policy.