Sales of Dell PCs fell more than 10 pc (Photo: Dell)

Worldwide PC shipments plunged 13.9 pc in the first quarter of 2013, as buyers switched to tablets and smartphones.

Market researchers IDC said PC shipments fell to 76.3 million units in the first quarter. The 13.9 pc drop was more severe than the 7.7 pc decline IDC had forecast earlier. Moreover, the year-on-year contraction was the biggest since the researchers began tracking the PC market quarterly in 1994.

IDC said the decline took place despite efforts from the PC industry to boost consumer interest with new products such as lighter ultrabooks and touch screens. The introduction of Windows 8 also didn't help the industry and may even have contributed to the slowdown in sales, IDC said.

"It seems clear that the Windows 8 launch not only failed to provide a positive boost to the PC market, but appears to have slowed the market," said Bob O'Donnell, an IDC vice president.

IDC said the PC industry needs to determine where it fits in with the proliferation of devices that consumers are now buying.

First-quarter sales fell 12.7 pc in the US to 14.2 million units, while sales in Asia/Pacific excluding Japan dropped at a similar pace.

Among major vendors, HP saw a 23.7 pc decline to 12.0 million, Dell dropped 10.9 pc to 9.0 million and Acer plunged 31.3 pc to 6.2 million. China's Lenovo kept global sales stable at 11.7 million.