PC sales tank on fears of Meltdown, Part Deux
Gartner: 'Take two tablets and call me in 2012'
The prognosticators at Gartner have again taken out their box cutters and sliced off the top of their worldwide PC shipment forecasts – and this time they're slashing both this year and the next.
The company's models now project that the world will consume 364 million PCs in 2011 – a 3.8 per cent increase over 2010's shipments – and then grow by 10.9 per cent to 404 million units in 2012.
That's a substantial revision of their earlier projections that PC shipments were going to grow by 9.3 per cent this year to 400 million units, then do even better in 2012, rising by a further 12.8 per cent.
Maybe Gartner was using a Magic 8 Ball – Reply hazy, try again.
Ranjit Atwal, a Gartner research director who tracks the PC market, said in a statement that Western Europe has economic upheaval and an excess of machine inventories, and that US consumers started pulling back on PC spending in the second quarter, with back-to-school spending also low.
"An increasing pessimistic economic outlook is causing both consumer and business sentiment to deteriorate in both regions," Atwal said. "We're expecting consumer spending to tighten in response. Business spending will also tighten, but less than the consumer space."
Perhaps more ominously, Atwal says that Generation Y is not buying a PC as their main or even first device in many cases, and are falling back to smartphones or tablets. Current PCs are not compelling enough to get geezers to buy new machines, either.
Blame the media ... tablet
George Shiffler, another director who tracks the PC market at Gartner, was equally pessimistic.
"Media tablets have dramatically changed the dynamic of the PC market and HP's decision to rethink its PC strategy simply highlights the pressure that PC vendors are under to adapt to the new dynamic or abandon the market," said Shiffler. "Vendors' tried and true business models are failing as traditional PC functionality is extended to other devices, and users continue to lengthen PC lifetimes.
"Vendors only seem to be flailing as they look for quick fixes to their problems. Unfortunately, the resulting chaos is just creating more confusion across the entire PC supply chain, impacting sell-in."
It's a great time to be trying to spin out a PC business, eh, HP?
As El Reg previously reported, Foxconn, the Chinese maker of Apple's iPad fondleslabs, has said that it will ship 20 million iPad 2s in the current quarter. Motorola Xoom and RIM Playbooks together shipped under 1 million units in the second quarter of this year, a paltry showing compared to the iPad, indeed.
Every one of those tablets might have been a skinny notebook or a tiny netbook, and every tablet sold next year might have been an ultrabook. It will take a serious return to boom times before consumers and businesses feel rich enough to have a top-end smartphone, a snazzy tablet, and a costly PC all current at the same time.
As they always do in uncertain economic times, many people are deciding that their PC is good enough for now – and maybe for the next year or two, too.
PC makers should be thankful for the vast installed base of truly creaky PCs sitting out there in the dens and on the desktops of the world. Having already had their lifecycles lengthened by the Great Recession, these wheezing PCs are what keeps PC shipments growing at all in Western economies. ®
I'd lve a new PC and laptop
My Pc is 8yr old, laptop is 4yr old and both really need replaced. But until the Government, the energy companies, and oil companies stop sucking on my wallet like a starving vampire they'll just have to do.
New PC not much better than old PC
The useful performance of CPUs on everyday tasks has basically plateaued in the last 3 years. If it wasn't for the fact that Windows still gets arthritic with time & users think their hardware has become slower, hardly any new PCs would be purchased (OK there is also the need to get rid of Vista and XP machines due to OS obsolescence... but that's not the fault of the hardware).
Back to the economics of the typewriter.
Typewriters used to sit on desks for generations. Even when they fell apart, they were skilfully put back together again by engineers.
Then came several decades of blatant corporate waste, powered by the cosy relationship between Microsoft and the hardware companies.
I'm not knocking all the advances: complex stuff became possible that had been impossible, huge spreadsheet analysis could be done in minutes instead of overnight. Even the first time we saw a DIR listing rush up the screen too fast to see any of the words seemed awesome.
But so many of the demands for upgrades were just for status; just to have the latest thing someone had read about. I'm all for the economics of those typewriter days. The PC hardware companies? Well, I guess they just have to check out how the old office equipment makers ever made a living. For a start, I guess they probably didn't obsess over this quarter's growth figures.
Are they failing? Unstable? A re-install can really boost a PC's performance. About the only thing an 8-year old PC will not do is run current games, it should still be able to cope with web, office etc.
Of course, if it was a really low-budget, low-powered system 8 years ago then you may well struggle. In which case, try installing a less demanding OS. One of the "Puppy Linux" distros is often a good choice.
It's that Windows advert where a 4-year old PC is "too old". Horse-hockey. Makes me want to punch my 12 year-old TV and write an angry email on my 7 year-old laptop.
All very true...
Aside from punters holding onto their computers longer due to financial constraints, there's other factors at play here too.
Even computers 5 years old+ are entirely capable of running the latest version of windows (lets face it, that's what most average punters use). Lets not forget the legions of XP users still out there, quite happy with their old computers.
There's nothing exciting about the PC market, we may have gone from dull beige boxes to snazzy chrome, sweeping lines and multiple colours - but that fad has played itself out, as has the netbook, the last poster child of the consumer PC.
Punters want tablets and most of them want iPad's - that's where the new coolness is. They've got their aforementioned snazzy chrome, sweeping lined colourful desktops, laptops & netbooks - no need to buy a new one.
But tablets? The marketing shine is glowing strong.