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All-in-one PCs: bright star of the desktop biz, says analyst

Saving the market - or re-arranging Titanic deckchairs?

Apple iMac

World+Dog will buy - or, rather, the planet's PC makers will produce and ship - some 16.4m all-in-one computers.

So forecasts market watcher IHS iSuppli, which gleefully notes that the resultant "robust" growth - shipments will be up 20 per cent from 2011's 13.7m - could see the AIO platform become the saviour of the desktop market.

Shipments were up 39 per cent between 2011 and 2010, DisplaySearch, another market watcher, said earlier this year.

Maybe, but those 16.4m machines will still only account for 12.4 per cent of the 132.3m desktops that are expected to leave vendors' production lines this year.

That said, with 2011 desktop shipments at 132m units - yielding growth of a mere two-tenths of a percentage point - AIOs are something of a ray of light.

Of course, the big question is, are AIOs countering the decline in desktop shipments caused by users' migration to notebooks, or will the AIO simply take an ever greater share of a dwindling market?

We suspect the latter, but that shouldn't reduce the impact of the AIO on a market that might well have declined considerably but for the AIO.

The iconic AIO is, of course, Apple's iMac and always has been. In 2011, the Apple machine accounted for almost a third of AIO shipments, with Lenovo, Dell, HP and Sony sharing out much of the remainder.

Some observers tout the ability to support a touchscreen as a key benefit of the AIO, but it's worth noting that the best-selling machine lacks this feature and so do many of the other, cheaper all-in-one machines. That may change when the more touch-centric Windows 8 launches later this year. ®

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