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back to article Not even Asia can save PC market's slump

PC shipments officially entered their longest slump in history last quarter after a 10.9 per cent year-on-year decline, with even the once-proud APAC region registering another double-digit drop, according to analyst Gartner. The market watcher’s preliminary forecast for Q2 2013 makes for pretty grim reading if you’re a PC …

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Meh

PCs of all shapes and sizes can do most things well enough. PC sales were once driven by the need to update hardware to keep up with complex software.

Except for trying to make a PC more power efficient there is a distinct lull in real innovation.

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Agreed - the whole need to upgrade on a regular cycle has to some extent gone. I am seeing colleagues who bought powerful laptops 18 - 24 months ago (myself included, actually) that are still powerful enough to handle everything thrown at them - and in some cases that includes gaming.

Undoubtedly tablets and phones with ever bigger screens have eaten into the market for the casual internet browser etc although there'll always be a need for 'proper' computers with keyboards and mice for even day-to-day work. But combined with the power you're getting and the OS's that won't die and consoles for casual gaming, there is an ever decreasing need to upgrade so often.

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Anonymous Coward

only 18-24 months. I have a laptop bought 4+ yrs ago and is still plenty powerful enough, obviously it doesn't run Windows and suffer from Windows slowdown syndrome

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Pretty much this.

In my previous job about 9 years ago, we had 3GHz+ Xeons in the servers. Intel chips seem to have generally slowed down into the 2.5GHz-3GHz range, just with more cores/SMT etc and some improved pipelining. Overall single thread performance hasn't been jumping like it was in the late 90s/early noughties and a lot of performance is still driven by single thread performance.

Aside from some niche power users, most people don't need anything more than a 4-5 year old PC to run what they need, i.e. a web browser, Office toolset & email client so there's no need to upgrade.

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Anonymous Coward

I use a recently purchased £200 or so professionally refurb business-class laptop, made five years ago (Core 2 Duo, 2.2GHz, 2GB). It's running Windows 7 (32bit) simply to get me some Win7 experience (still XP at work). It's fine for email, surfing, and all the usual consumer/light professional stuff. I'm not into games.

I've had other refurb laptops before that - I've not bought a brand new laptop for a decade or more, and from what I hear about laptops (especially displays) in the last couple of years, I'm not sure I'm likely to buy one in the foreseeable future. If/when I buy another it will end up being used with Linux - I had originally intended this one for use with Linux, as I knew it could do the job.

I can do this because it's mine and not the IT department's (I don't use it at work).

What are the typical corporate IT managers, reliant on the size of their annual budgets to give themselves some sense of self worth, going to do when their annual budgets are halved by the next management layer above, because it's become clear the traditional upgrade treadmill is neither necessary nor appropriate in these times of austerity?

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Paris Hilton

Upgrades? Schmuckgrades!

Not sure that the upgrade need / frequency has gone at all . Suspect the opposite. It's just that the packaging for computers has shuffled around a bit and the terminology has changed...

During the 90s computing moved to the mass market, non-techie users, who shopped, browsed, emailed, social networked and the like. They became the majority of computer users. They had little or no ability, interest or need to get serious with what a computer can do, a bit like typical motorists not knowing or wanting to know how to mend or make a car engine. For 15-20 years, these average users had essentially one choice available, the same sort of personal computer as techie users used: two fundamentally different types of user forced to use the same sort of gadget.

In the last few years the range of devices in various shapes and sizes has broadened as screen, battery and network technologies and computing power evolved and made new packages possible. Many of the new computer packages have their techieness hidden, which is just fine for today's 'average' computer user, who thinks in tems of smartphones, tablets, games consoles rather than 'computers'.

So, Mr. / Mrs. Average Computer User, shops and upgrades just as much as ever, probably a lot more, only they do it across the range of computers now available and don't think of most of them as a computer at all... a smartphone upgrade probably happens more often than a desktop / laptop upgrade ever did.

The real change is that as one sort of personal computer fragmented into multiple sorts, the usage and purchasing patterns fragmented accordingly. Some 'need' to be upgraded more often than others. Being seen in the pub with last year's model wouldn't bother most programmers interested in programming rather than image. But pubbing with the lads or girls on a Friday night with last year's smartphone? Whoa! Fashionista police alert!

Paris. Last year's model?

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Bronze badge

Re: Upgrades? Schmuckgrades!

Not sure I agree. Most organisations I've worked with over the last few years have moved towards a "don't replace it unless it's broken" policy. Regular upgrades used to be driven by new OSs and new power hungry applications but this is no longer the case.

Yes, tablets and smartphones have a place in all of this but I think the biggest influence is the economic down turn making people realise they don't need to keep upgrading their PC.

I suppose it's the same with TVs: An increase driven by HD and digital cut over and now a slump as people see no reason to replace their TVs.

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Re: Upgrades? Schmuckgrades!

I helped someone buy a new Windows 7 laptop from HP. The person on the phone informed her that due to high demand it would be two weeks before the laptop shipped. Three weeks later, she got her new laptop.

Like you said, Mr/Mrs Average Computer User is shopping. They are shopping for computers without Windows 8. There is a high demand for new computers, just not for Windows 8 computers. I promise you this: if Windows 7 was on the shelf, computer demand would jump significantly.

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Windows

@Wade Burchette. Rubbish - what we have here is a hardware/formfactor......

.....paradigm shift that we are in the middle of and cannot yet, reliably, see the outlines of. Whether one likes it or not what the tablet devices from Apple/Foxconn and Google's OEMs have done is change what the ordinary punter expects as far as form-factor and price is concerned. The issue of whether Redmond is capable of catching up with this or not is another matter, however the suggestion that this situation is caused by Win 8 is arrant rubbish. It is in fact to the credit of both Mountain View and Cupertino that they have powered this change.Win 8 is Redmond's response to a trend set by the aforementioned - whether they will succeed in catching that train is another matter.

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Bronze badge

Haven't actually bought a PC...

.... for a 15 years.

Some donated by friends as broken. Fixed using parts bought at car boot sale/flea market or from PCs found in the street. Have even started to find laptops -- so far with broken motherboards but memory, wireless card and hard drives can be used.

Rummaging through dumpsters is definitely less humiliating than a trip to PC World.

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Re: Haven't actually bought a PC...

Fihart

Careful there. IIRC in the UK bin diving is still theft, even if the previous owner has discarded the item. Once discarded it belongs to the waste collection agent, so you are removing property from them with an intent to permanently deprive. You may be able to make a point about being honest not dishonest.

Of course, prosecution is dependent upon someone being bothered to spot/stop/report/prosecute. That is unlikely as the police are pretty busy doing lots of other things.

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Bronze badge

Re: Haven't actually bought a PC...

@Yet Another Commentard

Only twice told off -- once by guy who decided I was taking hard drive to sell data, once by security guard behind office block. The latter was rather undermined by an office worker who had seen me in conversation with guard and popped out to advise that the coast would be clear after 7.00PM when the guard went off duty !

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Bronze badge

the custom parts market is worth a trillion dollar, everyone but your nan builds their own pc

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Bronze badge

tablets dont get you a posh snazzy mATX box to put on you tv stand and give you a fake smart tv, nor does some desktop pc thats stuck in the 90s for home office and gaming, while middleaged folks would feel retarded using their kids console when they have gone to bed for netflix etc

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Rol
Bronze badge

It's just a blip

New ways to interact, new software developments and new demands for computing power will drive the market back to the beige box.

Tablets, slates and laptops are more or less constrained to the dimensions we see and packing more power into that small space will eventually top out below the threshold of usefulness.

Sure the mobile computing market will always be around, but how much of that market is driven by the fad crazed, who will drop that tablet tomorrow if their shiny shiny doesn't support the latest in cerebral interfaces or 3 dimensional projection?

If I was a PC shipper, I'd be tracking and investing in the technologies that would bring my product back into the consumers cross hairs.

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Anonymous Coward

If they're in such dire straits ...

why can't they sell me an affordable notebook that does a simple 32G ram (4 dimms), bog standard medium-tec components? Something like a Dell M6700, but with change from 1200 gbp?

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Bronze badge
FAIL

There would be no crisis if manufactures gave users what they wanted.

Especially so in laptops.

The screens are woefully low in resolution. Where's the 2560X1600 or higher reso screens? Also, there's stuff-all IPS screens available. There's STILL no OLED/AMOLED screens--they should have flooded the market by now--why is AMOLED confined only to the phone and tablet market?.

Storage is both inadequate and slow (all mechanical drives should be chucked), laptops should have bays for multiple drives--with at least one hot-swappable, as well as include small high speed drives for the swap file etc.

...And that's just the beginning.

These guys have only themselves to blame.

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