back to article Android, Chromebooks storm channel as Windows PC sales go flat

Despite all the carping about the slumping PC market, it really wasn't such a bad year for channel computing sales, with devices based on Google technologies pulling ahead as the clear winners. According to the latest numbers from market analysis firm NPD, overall sales of desktops, notebooks, and tablets through the channel …

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  1. ThomH Silver badge

    So if we award all desktops to Microsoft then I make it...

    Microsoft: 64.1% of commercial channel computing devices that aren't phones

    Google: 18.3%

    Apple: 17.5%

    I'll bet Microsoft has a long way further to drop — all those years focussing on corporate hearts and minds is paying off, but probably not in the way intended. Though they still seem not quite to get the difference: I think shoehorning the phrase "with full Microsoft Office" into every consumer-targetted Surface advert isn't having the effect Microsoft seems to intend.

    1. Bob Vistakin
      Pint

      And so as 2013, Microsofts year of hell, draws to a close

      We can all look forwards and raise a glass to 2014: Microsofts year of implosion.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: So if we award all desktops to Microsoft then I make it...

      Chrome books will plateau quite soon, a year or two which will probably be down to accessibility. All very well living in a city, but out in the sticks they are quite useless. Also, the uptake in sales may very well be down to cost, they are cheap and people just want to give it a try. If they cost £500 plus it is unlikely so many would take a punt on them.

      1. jason 7
        Facepalm

        Re: So if we award all desktops to Microsoft then I make it...

        Useless if you are out in the sticks?

        Are you one of those Chromebook deniers that's still living in 1998?

        In this day and age, if I don't have an internet connection it's because I wanted it that way.

        1. M Gale

          Re: So if we award all desktops to Microsoft then I make it...

          In this day and age, if I don't have an internet connection it's because I wanted it that way.

          What's wrong with wanting a computer that works without a connection to The NSA^WCloud?

        2. jaminbob

          Re: So if we award all desktops to Microsoft then I make it...

          That's not true. I live in a reasonably sized town in Somerset... Hardly the 'sticks'. Copper wire broadband is very flaky. And I commute on a train without broadband. Chrome books are cool some, but I'll take a tablet with keyboard any day.

        3. JEDIDIAH
          Mushroom

          Re: So if we award all desktops to Microsoft then I make it...

          I have a very respectable broadband connection but I still don't want my desktop to depend on it. I don't even like my video streamers being entirely dependent on their connection to the mothership. I understand the limits of current tech and networks too well.

        4. Don Mitchell

          Re: So if we award all desktops to Microsoft then I make it...

          LOL "chromebook deniers".

          1. Bob Vistakin
            Linux

            Re: So if we award all desktops to Microsoft then I make it...

            @Lol "Chromebook deniers" indeed. Speaking of which, here's some cheery reading for any remaining Microsoft holdouts - aka "linux deniers":

            Linux is Everywhere. We show you exactly where.

            Happy New Year!

            1. RyokuMas Silver badge
              Trollface

              Re: So if we award all desktops to Microsoft then I make it...

              "Linux is Everywhere*. We show you exactly where."

              *except on the desktop

              /troll

              1. feanor

                Re: So if we award all desktops to Microsoft then I make it...

                It's on mine.

        5. LDS Silver badge

          Re: So if we award all desktops to Microsoft then I make it...

          You never fly, did you? Last time I checked on my intercontinental flight I had no internet connection. Nor I have one when sailing offshore. Sure, Linux nerds who never get out of their basement usually are Always connected...

          1. jason 7
            Happy

            Re: So if we award all desktops to Microsoft then I make it...

            Ermm I'm one of those lucky ones that only flies for when I go on holiday.

            So my original point still stands. I'm on holiday, I have better things to do than pour over spreadsheets or Powerpoints at 35000 feet.

            Oh I can still do spreadsheets on the Chromebook at 35000 feet too though. Email and text docs too in fact.

            Sleeping or sipping a G&T is much better however.

        6. PJI
          FAIL

          Re: So if we award all desktops to Microsoft then I make it...

          >>In this day and age, if I don't have an internet connection it's because I wanted it that way.

          It seems you do not get out much, or your idea of the sticks is the next suburb or Hampstead Heath. I assure you, in most of Great Britain and the rest of Europe, public, free, available wi-fi is not available and there is not a tea or coffee shop or even pub on every corner. Even mobile telephone signal at 3g or better is not universal, often no signal at all.

          If you believe otherwise, you are fantasising and never leave your comfort zone.

          I believe even Chromebook suppliers are beginning to reconsider the total reliance on WLAN connectivity.

        7. feanor

          Re: So if we award all desktops to Microsoft then I make it...

          Oh dear. You apparently know nothing about rural broadband then.

        8. OsamaBinLogin

          Re: So if we award all desktops to Microsoft then I make it...

          You're not talking about a portable computer - you're talking about a desktop. I have a net connection at home, that's easy.

          Unfortunately, the entire atmosphere is not yet filled with wifi. On the train to work, nothing. Busses, nyet. In coffeehouses that advertise "Free WiFi", there's only a 70% chance that it actually works. Your typical doctor's waiting room? nada. Enjoying a hike in the woods? niente. Sitting in a restaurant waiting for your pizza to bake? Nunca. Passenger in a car on a looonnnggg trip? Nein. Suddenly, most of my ipad apps are useless (it doesn't have cell). Web pages that auto-refresh soon self-destruct, and I'm left to play sudoku cuz that program doesn't instantly flip out when it can't call home.

      2. big_D Silver badge

        @AC Cheap?

        Over here, I just don't see the point. They are more expensive than a Windows netbook with Chrome installed, so why pay more for less functionality?

        I don't know anyone who has bought one.

    3. Paul Crawford Silver badge

      " further to drop"

      It will be good if MS drops to around 1/2-1/3 of new sales, but no less, as that way all main OS (Windows, Linux, MacOS) should get decent support by peripheral suppliers and be designed to begin with for that goal. And that is a good thing for everyone.

    4. Euripides Pants Silver badge
      Windows

      Re: So if we award all desktops to Microsoft then I make it...

      "Microsoft: 64.1% of commercial channel computing devices that aren't phones"

      And an increasing number of people do all their computery stuff on not-computers...

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I don't get it

    How come Apple laptops don't have a bigger market share?? They are fairly well made, Unix-based, don't run Windows and the brand is fashionable. How come with all these advantages they are still a small fraction of the Windows laptops? Is it the price, or the lack of games? I understand the business world is Microsoft-dependent, but I would have thought they would do well on the consumer sector...

    I mean, it's not like the Apple marketing is subtle about putting them in every movie.

    1. Gordon 10 Silver badge

      Re: I don't get it

      I would have thought so too. I suspect it's that the figure cover both the corporate and consumer market hence apples mostly consumer sales are dwarfed by Windows corporate sales. Would be interesting to see pure consumer market numbers.

      1. Khaptain Silver badge

        Re: I don't get it

        Macbooks look great but they are expensive, most consumers don't understand RAM, SSD, GHz, Pixels etc all they understand is the end price. Either they can afford it or they can't. There really is not a lot more to understand.

        The fanbois can argue until they are blue in the face about "intrinsic value" but they don't foot the bill for Joe Punter.

        Macbooks don't offer anything of value to the average punter......Proof of the pudding lies in the fact that they will buy iPhones and Tablets ( Samsung or Apple), within which they will find all that they truly require, media consumption and facebook....

      2. RealFred

        Re: I don't get it

        I think its because I can go to the local computer store and buy a good enough Windows laptop that I already know how to use and I can use all of my old software on it, for about $500, against a Mac laptop that I pay significantly more for and none of my old software works on it.

        I know they can run Windows on it in Bootcamp or as a virtual machine, but that makes it messy to use, costs more to set up and they can't be bothered.

    2. tempemeaty

      Re: I don't get it

      It's just my opinion but the majority of the world is poor. Most I know of get what they can for under $500. Apple/Jobsian empire isn't going to compromise their product quality level to get to that price point. It's for that reason that I don't see any dramatic changes in their market share near term.

      In the long term Apples Mac may come to be all that's left in the market that once was dominated by the PC as Microsoft themselves has proven with Windows 8+ to be the PC manufactures worst nightmare and now even their enemy. I only hope the PC manufactures have figured out that point and have begun looking for an OS source that isn't their enemy...

      1. JEDIDIAH
        Linux

        Re: I don't get it

        Most people simply don't buy into the hype. It doesn't help that they have been fed the "must be DOS compatbable" line for 30 years. This tends to put a damper on any alternative platform that looks anything like a PC.

        As just another PC, the marginal value improvement of an Apple product is grossly overrated.

        1. LDS Silver badge

          Re: I don't get it

          With Macs, you have a "trouble free" PC. Because Apple controls everything, you have little to worry about drivers, updates, etc. Everything is from Apple. Many less technical users like it.

          With Windows, especially if you have a custom built PC and not a branded PC with good support, you have to take care yourself of drivers and so on. With Linux, it's even worse, especially if your hardware is edge and you use a distro not supported by the hardware maker.

          Also if you need something that needs for example color management, color profiles, and color calbration with Linux you end in a DIY nightmare, because there's very little support.

          1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

            Not only 'less experienced users'

            like Macs. I've been writing software for a living for close on 40 years. I got fed up with windows in 2008 and switched to a Mac. I have to use Windows (Server) for my Day job plus a bit of Linux so it is a real pleasure to come home and have a system for my own use that just works for me rather than me fighting it (and the AV, defrag and re-installs etc etc).

            The systems I build for the day job are pretty complex and control very large industrial plant. If we could move away from Windows we would but a lot of vendors insist on using MSMQ, that programmers dream, management nightmare of a piece of software.

            Approx 50% of my colleagues have done the same and moved to the fruity machines.

            1. cambsukguy

              Re: Not only 'less experienced users'

              Never had to defrag my Win7 laptop, my SSD runs over 90% full (it is small), still at 0% fragmentation - it always is.

              Everything moves on, you should try to keep up.

              1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

                Re: Not only 'less experienced users'

                Windows 7 wasn't out when I hoisted the white flag and gave up on Windows. At the time it was Vista or XP.

                So good for you and your Windows 7 experience.

                The Mac I bought in 2008 (17in MBP Core 2 duo) also uses a SSD. The biggest issue was having to uninstall and re-install one pices of software that binds itself to the HDD serial number. That was MS Office for Mac 2011 and it deposits bits of itself in all sorts of odd places. Not impressed.

              2. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Not only 'less experienced users'

                @ cambsukguy

                That's because windows 7 runs a scheduled defrag operation without ever asking you. Check your scheduled tasks. That fragmentation process also uses a hell of a lot of CPU. I only noticed when I would hear my fans whine up to fever pitch in the middle of the night. I would check & find cpu temps 20º higher than at idle (or virtually any other time other than when performing intensive 3d rendering).

                So back to using a 3rd party defragger that runs when I tell it to & uses the resources I allow it to.

                1. Mark Harris

                  Re: Not only 'less experienced users'

                  Nope, defrag doesn't run on SSD's, you'll find that most SSD management software disables it as it can shorten the life of the drive.

                  1. LDS Silver badge

                    Re: Not only 'less experienced users'

                    Physical position of data on an SSD is meaningless, especially since levelling algorithms try to spread data evanly on disk to increase life, anyway they have not a spinning plate and a head that can read data only when it reaches it and needs to be moved if data are not contiguos.

                    Anyway is funny to read about fragmentation issues from fans of an OS that couldn't get file locking correctly. POSIX file locking is hopelessy broken, and we could also talk about the too simplistic ACLs *nix have, which makes them mostly unmanageable in large deployments with complex needs. But they forgot about it... of course Linux has no flaws, those are "features", not old, bugged and outdated implementations noone dares to touch for backwards compatibility and because when all you have are two machines in your basement you really don't care...

              3. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: SSD ... still at 0% fragmentation

                you've got auto defrag switched on and if you knew what you were doing, with an ssd you'd switch it off.

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: SSD ... still at 0% fragmentation

                  and if you knew what you were talking about you wouldn't make stupid comments

          2. JEDIDIAH
            Devil

            Re: I don't get it

            > Also if you need something that needs for example color management,

            Are you posting from a the other side of a wormhole that leads to the 80s? That kind of thing hasn't been a compelling argument for the adoption of Macs for a very long time.

            1. LDS Silver badge

              Re: I don't get it

              No. I'm simply saying that while OSX and Windows 7/8 offer a huge range of features for professional software - and color management was only an example - Linux still lacks many features to make it a real professional desktop OS in many fields. Image processing is an example - if you're in photography professionaly, you need Lightroom and Photoshop - and the huge array of tools to calibrate and profile your devices, plus support for the photo gear you're using - and that means or OSX or Windows.

              You won't spend time in a DIY nightmare under Linux, and try to use GIMP or the like to deliver the final products to your paying customers. When you're gear alone costs ten of thousands of dollars, it won't be a few hundreds savings for the OS and software to make you switch to Linux - savings that you will pay dearly in time spent fighting with subpar software and lack of compatibility.

              What Linux worshipper fails to understand is that for most people software is a tool, not an ideology. They care only about having a job done the best and fastest way, so they can earn their money and be happy doing something else than installing the next testing kernel. Until Linux delivers real professional software which is the industry standard, or at least fully compatible with it, those people will happily ignore it because they have no time to waste to affirm an ideology.

              I'd suggest many Linux worshipper here to spend their time writing software for Linux, and adding the many missing core functionalities, instead of wasting it telling us how good Linux is and why we should hate MS or Apple. Noone will preinstall an OS most users don't want simply because they need to get their job done, and not try "change the (cyber)world"

              1. feanor

                Re: I don't get it

                "They care only about having a job done the best and fastest way,.."

                You forgot "most cost effective".

                Linux does everything I need it to. It doesn't cost me anything. Thats pretty cost effective. When I discover a computing need it doesn't satisfy I may change my assesment. I don't understand why you want me to pay for something I can get for free just to affirm your ideology.

                My problem with Apple is not the OS or the hardware, its all good (as it should be at those prices), but the fact that Apple won't let me do whatever I like with a product I've paid (quite a lot) for. It's a lock-in mentality that I, as a techy, find restricting and distateful. But if you can do everything you need to do without leaving your walled garden then more power to you. And if you can afford it of course.

                My problem with MS is that I've spent decades struggling with their sub-standard products that they got away with foisting on a captive market (captured by many and varied rather dubuous business practices) who had little choice but to bend over for it.

                In comparison, Linux is a breath of fresh air. Free fresh air.

                I'd suggest you educate yourself a bit, before spouting tired old MS propaganda from the 1990s.

                P.S. Yes I use it for business. I have it on a laptop, two desktops and a server. I've used it for over a decade now. I've never compiled a kernel for any of them at any time.

          3. big_D Silver badge

            Re: @LDS Trouble free?

            I have an 2012 iMac at work and a 2007 iMac at home. I also have a bunch of Windows machines. The old iMac is slow (under OS X) and it had logic board problems. Under Windows 8 and Linux it still runs acceptably fast. Also, it is no longer supported by Apple - no OS security updates, let alone newer versions of OS X; ironically Windows works fine on it.

            The 2012 version, running Lion through Mavericks has been nothing but a headache in getting it to work reliably with our domain and Exchange.

            On the other hand, my 2003 desktop and 2004 Acer laptop are both working fine and are still supported by Microsoft (the latest Windows runs and even the original (XP) is still receiving security updates for another couple of months.

      2. LDS Silver badge

        Re: I don't get it

        What OS source? They have little choice. Apple won't release OSX outside its hardware and Linux still lacks professional sofware for many critical tasks on the user side (on the server side there is enough software).

        Mostly because Linux users are so used to the word "free" - many software companies wants money for their software, and if users are not willingly to pay - and moreover want source code because Stalmman has said it has to be that way - they have very little incentives to move their software to Linux. Because not everybody works with a web frontend also, users who need some classes of applications will need a Windows or Mac PC - and PC manufacturer can only choose the first.

        1. feanor

          Re: I don't get it

          "..and moreover want source code because Stalmman has said it has to be that way.. "

          Oh dear, as a bit of friendly advice can I suggest you go and do some reading up on Open Source as a development model before you make yourself look even more stupid that you just did?

    3. DougS Silver badge

      Re: I don't get it

      Price.

      Plus I think by mentioning "Unix based" you're assuming that typical buyers would care about that. They won't. They don't even know what Unix is.

      Price is also why 98% of Chromebook sales happen. Chromebooks are basically a warmed over Netbook, from back before Microsoft stuck their nose in the Netbook world.

      1. LDS Silver badge

        Re: I don't get it

        Chomebooks are neutered Netbooks. The netbooks didn't sell all your data to Google. That's why they're happily Killing the netbook, today market value is in how good you are in "stealing" user data only.

      2. Euripides Pants Silver badge
        Joke

        Re: I don't get it

        "They don't even know what Unix is."

        Don't be silly, most people know what eunuchs is....

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I don't get it

      Because what the telly tells you and reality are rarely the same. Microsoft and apple have truckloads of money from previous glories allowing them to the truth. All I know is I don't know a single person that's bought a windows 8 laptop know plenty that bought chromebooks

    5. Christian Berger Silver badge

      Re: I don't get it

      Well that should be "the brand is fashionable". Apple laptops aren't particularly well made. Sure they are a far cry from the typical low end consumer stuff, but the main board (or logic board in Applespeak) just shouldn't fail.

      The operating system may be UNIX like, but at least in the versions I've tried for a longer time (10.2) it feels very old. The country code database still lists Czechoslovakia, rsync needs an extra argument to use ssh instead of rexec and so on. Additionally the GUI stuff just didn't work. When the machine ran for several weeks, it would become slower and slower to respond eventually grinding to a halt.

      That's why for many people Apple laptops are no alternative. And that's why, if you look at people who really care about computing. Apple has only a market share of about 10 percent, while something like 88% is held by "used Thinkpads with Linux".

      1. PJI
        Thumb Down

        @Christian Berger - Re: I don't get it

        Are you sure you used OS X? Did you ever open a terminal or X session, in the shell type "rsync" without options or "man rsync" and find the "-e" option? Or set the default configuration?

        I've worked on almost every flavour of UNIX and many Linuxes and BSDs over the last thirty years (Lord, is it really that long?) and I assure you, OSX is a decent BSD at shell level and truer to UNIX than many Linux variants.

        rsync is not part of the OS, it is a utility programme. Most of the OSX shell utilities are GNU (just like Linux) or BSD. If you want a newer or older version and want to play techie, just go to mac ports (cf. BSD ports) or one of the many free software sites to download binary or source.

        A big difference from some Linuxes is that OS X uses LDAP for most user system configuration.

        You know, whatever one thinks of Google and many visual software shops, there must be a good reason why they favour OS X for their engineering and development.

        Contrary to the FUD, while all hardware is liable to failure at some point, Apple hardware seems, in my personal experience and that of others I know, to be rather good and the design is well above average. Design is important as I have to look at the kit and use it, for years, in private and in public.

        Perhaps I am just lucky. I've got a 12 year old Thinkpad that still runs, having had just a couple of very minor bits of surgery, albeit like treacle and even older scanner and printer. My macbook is a mere seven years old - still runs like sh- off a shovel.

    6. jonathanb Silver badge

      Re: I don't get it

      This is channel sales. Most people get their Apple kit direct from Apple.

      1. Gerhard Mack

        Re: I don't get it

        I don't know who modded Jonathanb down but he is right. Sales from Apple stores are direct so they do not count as channel sales.

        Apple has been actively cutting back on things they sell through "the channel"

      2. LDS Silver badge

        Re: I don't get it

        Well, this is true for Windows desktops and notebooks as well. Most large companies buy directly. Mine (about 70.000 employees) buys directly from Dell and HP - desktops, workstations, notebooks, servers.

        And end-user as well could buy directly, especially if you don't have a good store nearby.

    7. AlbertH

      Re: I don't get it

      Apple hardware is just commodity gear in pretty boxes. It's insanely over-priced. They could grab a huge market share by reducing their prices into line with Windoze machines, and all they'd lose is their massive profit on hardware. This would be more than counteracted by their hugely increased sales and the sales of software to support the platform.

      Sadly, Apple's management don't understand the "supermarket principle" and still believe that they can survive in their niche markets.

      The third player that's gaining market share rapidly is Google. There is certain to be a standalone implementation of "Chrome" soon enough - a solid Linux base with all the pretty attractions of an Apple-alike desktop. Apple will scream "foul" and discover that Google can be evil if they feel like it!

      Microsoft will continue to lose relevance and revenues with their concentration on "touch" interfaces and the disasterous mess that is Windoze 8. MS just haven't realised that their particular game is over!

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