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back to article Forget Ultrabooks and Win 8 - only fondleslabs can save us now

Only the fondleslab can save the flatlining PC market this year, as sales of traditional platforms continue to flatline – and nothing on the horizon suggests a buying frenzy is likely in the second half of the year. At least this is the view of top channel bean-counter Context, which tracks distributor output. The analyst …

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Yes, the problem is definitely that people aren't buying Brand New Stuff they don't need/ can't afford, and it's absolutely definitely not down to a financial model that assumes that hardware sales can consistently grow regardless of financial conditions.

I can't help but wonder if analysis of those companies selling both hardware and decent after-sales support services have prospects quite as grim as are being suggested here...

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Anonymous Coward

Plus unless you're gaming or rendering 1080p video then you probably aren't interested in buying a new computer to get more speed when you won't use it.

We have 8 year old computers at work that are still being used, they're being replaced slowly but these are development tower machines. The disc speed lets them down, so adding an SSD might speed them up a little.

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Anonymous Coward

Yes its not that notebooks, desktops are old hat, its the fact they last so much longer nowadays to situation 10 years ago, plenty of 5+ year old PCs perfectly fit for purpose. Weird how all manufacturers except Apple have ignored the opportunity to boost notebook graphic resolution etc. to try to boost interest in upgrades.

Tablets are still on the 2-3 year cycle, e.g. the iPad 1 is just over 2 years old but totally eclipsed by the latest devices, iOS, Android, Win8 and WinRT but again apart from Apple the OEMs have been very unimaginative recent years.

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Even gaming rigs don't need to be upgraded so often as most games are being written with 5 year old console technology in mind, you will always have the enthusiast wanting the latest upgrades but for most purposes a 3 year old machine can handle almost every game released today with no problems.

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Headmaster

Except

Except for Apples retina displays on their devices what has anyone produced that is actually new.

Computers maybe getting lighter and faster but program's have not needed to catch up to it.

Why bother changing unless you computer has died or you can buy one and off set it against tax every three years. I have a Dell 1645 XPS which is just coming up to three years old and is as good as new!

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@Zombie Womble

The games market is actually getting worse at generating PC sales.

We have the mass defection of casual gamers to phones and tablets completely removing the need for any sort of competent PC/laptop for many.

At the same time there's been an explosion of game download services fighting for customers. Unlike store shelves they can afford to keep older games 'in stock'. It's become trivially easy to find 2,5 or even 10 year old games worth playing, at ludicrously low prices. Literally thousands of games to choose from, more games than anyone has time to play. I have something like 20 AAA titles from the last 5 years I didn't have time to play at release, all waiting to be played.

Unless you're chasing brand new AAA titles no-one needs a new gaming PC. And of course the AAA chasers all moved to console 5 years ago anyway!

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Re: @Zombie Womble

Gotta agree. The last (console) title I bought was Dark Souls, and I haven't even played it yet. However I have spent a decent amount on iOS games that I'm enjoying.

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Anonymous Coward

SSDs for PCs work

Yep, did that to every machine in the office. It will prolong the life of the machines by years, as long as the crud software from MS doesn't bloat too much, but hey, I think we will bypass the next couple of iterations - that ribbon pissed everyone off, and the developers are not enthralled by the new .NET development tools.

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kb
Facepalm

Actually as someone who runs a little PC shop I can tell you what is REALLY going on, and it isn't a "Post PC world' or any of that rubbish, and it isn't the downturn although i'm sure that is stopping some of the "ooh shiny!" PC buyers ATM.

Its actually quite simple, the MHz wars are over and PCs went right past "good enough" and into "insanely overpowered' for the vast majority. i know several customers whose businesses are filled with Phenom Is and original Core Duos, with some of the secretaries running Pentium Ds and early Athlon X2s, why? are they poor? Nope its simply the fact that even chips THAT old have more cycles than they can come up with work to fill, that's all.

So the simple reason why the OEMs and MSFT are having kittens is they just didn't realize that the huge numbers they were putting up were the result of an anomaly (the MHz War) and NOT the normal state. What we are seeing now IS the normal state thanks to the fact machines have been simply overpowered for the users for several years now. There hasn't been a "killer app" that will stress these monsters, heck most of the popular apps won't even stress those old chips I listed above, so why waste money on a new PC when the one you have is twiddling its thumbs most of the day?

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somewhat right, but...

I have a 4 year old machine that was set up for gaming and development and performed great after putting it together.

These days, if I run Excel, Outlook, Chrome, a few explorer windows and maybe notepad, the thing starts bogging down seriously, mainly due to RAM but also the increase in cycles used up by modern browsers with many tabs open.

I'm actually upgrading this year, cause I really do need more juice...

If the people in those companies you mention don't use the internet as an encyclopedia with a tabbed browser while working, your assessment is correct though.

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Stop

Ever since the financial meltdown of 2008 we've been hovering around the event horizon of a decade-long depression. Both businesses and individuals have become accustomed to wringing much more life out of computers than they ever did - replacement cycles look like they're slowing to anything up to 5-6 years, especially on PCs and laptops. There's a lot of truly ancient kit out there, I've seen loads of businesses still using Windows XP with no real plan to updating. Also, as has been said many times before, all growth is finite.

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Windows

How much PC do most people actually need for work

I sat in the student 'social learning space' this morning: thin clients on call centre type tables in the main atrium of the College. I logged into my desktop (citrix) and worked quite happily for an hour or so before going up to the staffroom. I was using a small slice of some Xeon based server somewhere and it was fine. Office/Outlook/Web and printing. Some simple photo resizing and a bit of AutoCAD.

Have we reached the point where the clients have enough power for most reasonable uses other than video rendering &c?

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Bronze badge

Re: How much PC do most people actually need for work

I often have a few VM's running and find that my C2duo struggles... so 8GB ram and a P9400 isnt enough...

Im also one of those chaps that just craves more resolution... I dont need to see every detail on every screen, but its always handy to glance and see whats brewing...

dont forget the docing connector... not a usb or somesuch nonsense... a real one, that supplies power as well as connecting me to a couple of monitors... :)

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Just out of interest...

...Is there usually upward motion around the launch of say a new MS OS or several years after said launch as more companies come to the new OS (it being unwise to be an early adopter in corporate environments)?

I've been around for a few rollouts, but they typically involved putting Win7 on the existing hardware.

I'm interested to know as I've only a limited knowledge of whether this actually impacts hardware sales and if, therefore, some of the workstation/desktop slump is to do with the fact there hasn't been a new OS to buy new hardware for for a while now. Is part of this normal course as the latest windows reaches market saturation?

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Re: Just out of interest...

For companies that upgraded to Vista it meant new hardware was needed due to some old kit no longer having drivers for it scanners e.

The same could be true for a lot going from XP to Windows 7 depending on how old and the spec of their current kit, plus it can be cheaper to just plonk a computer on the desk that has been supplied by say Dell with an image that has been signed off on by the IT department than going round and manually updating computers with the need to reinstall software etc.

Its the route we will take in the upgrade from XP to 7 in a few months, the hardware is due for replacement anyway and a team of 20 would have a lot of work upgrading 2000 pc's / laptops.......

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WTF?

Straw grasping

Saved by tablets? fucked by a tablet is more accurate.

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As for me

I have a desktop that is getting a bit iffy on booting up so have bought a laptop with an i5 processor etc, this is so i have a replacement as soon as it dies and can continue to work from home. Otherwise I would not bother to buy new, as long as it does what I throw at it my pc is as high a spec as I need.

I have a tablet for casual use on the sofa and again feel no need to upgrade that just because quad core comes out etc. My better half has just gone from iPad 1 to iPad 2 and then only because we could get a refurb iPad 2 for £259 from the Apple store (getting ready for extra in iOS that won't work on the 1), what with cashback and a voucher the price was £215, ebayed the iPad 1 and got £215.....

After all when was the last time you upgraded your tv just because it got freeview or your car for a new model just because it got bluetooth voice control built in.......

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Windows

Vacuum cleaner model

The arguments why no more PCs are needed are similar to those for vacuum cleaners 20 years ago. Everyone has one, they work longer, etc.

The post-saturation era for vacuum cleaners has worked out as selling specialist machines - one for the car, one driven by batteries, and so on (equivalent to, say, ARM processor proliferation?). Also the cyclone technology came along (ssds?). What nobody is asking for are gold-plated Wintel machines.

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There will be an uptake in sales as people buy the remaining Windows 7 PCs to avoid the new Windows 8.

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That'd be me.

Spent a few days last week, giving Metro a chance. Just ordered a new laptop to get it while Windows 7 was still available.

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Linux

The problem with Fondleslabs (of all types) is

That there are no juicy upgrades for the likes of PC World etc to cash in on.

Think about it

- No extra RAM

- No extra HDD drives

- No USB (or other) connected storage

- No Gaming mouse/controller

- No 24in (or similar) super screen to use on the desk

- No external soundsystem

- No copies of norton etc

- No expensive copies of Office/Photoshop etc.

Because the device is so bounded then the scope for the cost to rise significantly is limited.

This means less turnover for the stores and thus less profit.

Not good news then...

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Facepalm

Re: The problem with Fondleslabs (of all types) is

- No copies of norton etc

Surely, this is not a problem? Last "Norton" that was actually useful was "Norton Commander", everything else after that has been a steaming pile of shit.

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This post has been deleted by a moderator

Facepalm

They Said this when XP Tablet edition came out, and people carried on buying computers. (Ok, it was cack, but it was supposed to change computing forever).

Then Smartphones appeared, and they declared desktop computing at all dead.

Then laptops became affordable, and they declared the desktop computer dead.

Then netbooks came along, and they declared Laptops and Desktops dead (again)

Then the new high-end smartphones arrived, and they declared Laptops and Desktops dead again.

Then workable tablet arrived, and the desktop and laptop was declared dead again.

Then Ultrabooks arrived, and everything else was declared dead.

Then tablet stuck their head above the wall again, and marketing pukes have once again declared Laptops and Desktops dead.

And So The Cycle Continues. I've recently had more requests related to building and buying desktop computers than I've had for years. Because people have finally cottoned on that you can fix a desktop machine cheaply, after they have had a price for repairing a broken laptop, and found that they just aren't worth fixing. On the plus side, I've now got a nice collection of spare 2.5" Drives and SODIMMs. :)

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Go

My place has gone to 7 years renewal rate.

As per the title.

The 7 years old PCs we have run Xp, office 2003 and any other office app we may need as well as they did 7 years ago.

If the requirement for more speed is there on a 3 to 5 years old PC, then we just put in an SSD drive, 4 Gb of ram and that's it.

Why would you spend 700 pounds when you can spend 100 for the same result?

Sales and service are going down the iPad route as it's great for what they do.

Again, why you would spend 700 pounds when you can spend 400?

The world has changed. Live with it

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Thumb Up

Don't need an upgrade

I bought a laptop in 2008 - dual core, with 2gig of ram, and last year I installed additional 2 gig of rams, and recently I got a free terrabyte of a hard-drive. All in all I really don't need a bigger computer. It's still running Windows XP (downgrade from Vista)/dual booting with ubuntu. I still have my old P4 desktop. I Recently I bought an iPad (3rd gen), mostly for games, and outdoor usage.

I dunno about most ppl, but I really don't see the need to upgrade computer every year or even every three year. Hardware is not that advance enough, nor I find software all the appealing.

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When people get paid for opinions...

...they'll put one out about anything and cash another cheque. People and companies alike are purchasing when they need to and have since late 2008 early 2009. There's a lot less disposable income and even more uncertainty than there has been in a long time. May as well post a study on sunrises and their relationship to the number of sunsets realized over a given period.

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Astonishing..

"It seems that consumers simply don't have the finance to continue buying PCs while businesses are still impacted by negative economic news"

Wait, you mean someone finally figured out that if you ship all the best paying jobs overseas, start paying everyone you do still employ minimum wage and then complain because you have to pay them that much.. that might mean they won't keep buying expensive computers? Woah, slow down there genius.

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Re: Astonishing..

They don't want people to have computers...

Better only pay them enough to buy cheap gaming consoles

Back to the times when schools were only for aristocrats.

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bep

I bought a Transformer Pad at the weekend

Having realised now just how clunky it was to plink around on my low-res netbook compared to the touchscreen-with-keyboard-when-you-need-it experience, I can see why ultrabooks are doomed; they need all that grunt just to run Windows, and on portable devices Windows is definitely a problem. I can also see why Microsoft is developing Windows 8; they're toast if they don't.

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