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Thin client market gets even thinner, down seven per cent in a year

Blame the government, not Windows 10. And keep an eye on China

Thin client sales have dipped 6.9 per cent in a year, to just 5.08 million, according to the abacus-shufflers at analyst firm IDC, which says 5.454m devices shipped in 2014.

The firm thinks the dip is attributable to economic factors, rather than a loss of interest in thin clients or desktop virtualisation (VDI). Lower public sector spending, in particular, slowed demand for a product often associated with locking down desktops in ways deemed useful by organisations with unusual security requirements.

IDC also feels 2015 was probably going to be a tough year for thin clients come what may, as recent buying and project cycles ran out of steam.

“Awareness around VDI continues to improve,” says Jay Chou, IDC's research manager for Enterprise Client Device Trackers. “IDC does expect an improved outlook ahead, especially as companies begin to think about moving beyond Windows 7."

Those remarks will be cause of considerable relief in the halls of VMware and Citrix. The former has made a big bet on VDI as a source of growth. The latter has lots of VDI turf to defend and growth aspirations of its own.

Dell and HP will also take solace from IDC's predictions of a future thin client uptick, as the tale of the tape below shows sales are well down for the two market leaders.

Worldwide Enterprise Client Device Unit Shipments, Market Share, and Year-Over-Year Growth, Calendar Year 2015 (shipments in thousands)

Vendors

2015 Unit Shipments

2015 Market Share

2014 Unit Shipments

2014 Market Share

2015 vs. 2014 Growth

1. Dell*

1,300

25.6%

1,508

27.7%

-13.8%

2. HP Inc.*

1,272

25.0%

1,497

27.4%

-15.0%

3. NComputing

518

10.2%

459

8.4%

12.8%

4. Centerm

457

9.0%

398

7.3%

15.0%

5. Igel

243

4.8%

276

5.1%

-12.1%

Others

1,290

25.4%

1,316

24.1%

-2.0%

Total Market

5,080

100%

5,454

100%

-6.9%

Source: IDC's Worldwide Quarterly Enterprise Client Device Tracker, Q4 2015.

IDC also found three rays of light in the thin client market. The main one was sales in Asia, up ten per cent in the year. The second was a turnaround for Ncomputing, which scored 12.8 per cent shipments growth for 2015. The third piece of nice news is Chinese vendor Centern's 15 per cent shipment growth on the back of “major financial project wins in China.”

Maybe that's not such great news, though: China's preference for domestic suppliers is growing, making the Middle Kingdom an even tougher market for the likes of Dell and HP Inc. to crack. ®

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