back to article The PC is dead. Gartner wishes you luck, vendors

The PC market is doomed. We know this. You know this. Gartner knows this, but it reckons vendors can bleed out a few more pennies if they start selling high-end rigs for gamers. "PCs are no longer the first or only devices users are choosing for internet access," said Meike Escherich, principal research analyst at Gartner. …

  1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    "PCs are no longer the first or only devices users are choosing for internet access,"

    Maybe I'm getting old & the memory isn't what it was but I'm sure I can remember businesses not only using PCs for purposes other than internet access but using them for business before internet access became common. I think they might still be doing that. The vendors' problem isn't that people are using other gadgets instead of PCs, it's that the PCs they have are still working and fit for purpose.

    Maybe the market for market reports has also saturated as they keep finding the same thing.

    1. itzman

      Re: PCs are no longer the first or only devices users are choosing for internet access,"

      I think the point here is that domestic customers, and to a large extent many corporates, have dumped the PC, especially where all they actually want is internet access.

      The PC has been a two pronged fork - business workstation and low level domestic and corporate network access device.

      The second prong is now essentially dead. What that means is that there will be a huge drop in sales volume of both the desktop hardware, and windows software, in favour of android type devices.

      And the severe risk that in more professional situations, running bespoke code, the PC will be running Linux instead of windows.

    2. W. Anderson

      Whatever the reason, PC sales are declining rapidly

      Even as Doctor Syntax states - "the PCs they have are still working and fit for purpose " - which is true to a point, does not explain clearly the precipitous drop in PC shipments each year over the past 5 years, in regards concrete and fact-based reason(s).

      Unfortunately this news, while not being new, is very depressing to many Microsoft loyalists, who continually rant on TheRegister and other USA tech media that the venerable PC market, aka Windows PC market, will return to it's former glory, even if only in their own minds.

      Recently Dell reported substantial drop and loses in PC sales, and HP has effectively transitioned to "enterprise and corporate" data centre focus. The only profitable PC vendor, which also has fading Windows PC sales, is Lenovo with good sales in China, a country that had mandated future computing platforms for all government, education and banking/related financial institutes be based on GNU/Linux Operating System (OS), which does not help Microsoft at all.

      The most powerful Super Computer on earth, for third straight year is not a IBM or Cray product out of USA, but a Chinese built Linux based computer, and the Chinese have thus proven and been adequately convinced that Windows based technology - even in PCs - is a trend of the past.

      The arc of the technological universe has swung away from tech behemoths of old, to new gladiators using mostly Free/Open Source Software (FOSS) based technology and innovation absent from PC vendors.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Whatever the reason, PC sales are declining rapidly

        Even as Doctor Syntax states - "the PCs they have are still working and fit for purpose " - which is true to a point, does not explain clearly the precipitous drop in PC shipments each year over the past 5 years, in regards concrete and fact-based reason(s).

        Maybe since the GFC corporates are getting a little tighter with the 3 year refresh cycle in order to save cash as those old machines...guess what?...are still just as capable of running any of the tasks they did when first bought. You also have places switching to Citrix/VDI type environments (although I don't know how server sales have gone) which also removes the need to refresh the PCs. Where I'm working there are a few workstations but most old desktops are just citrix viewers.

    3. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

      @Doctor Syntax - Gartner is ignoring the fact that PCs are still useful for many people and many purposes. They are not looking at basic economic history of what happens when a market matures. Unit sales do not grow and sometimes decline for a period. There will be a vendor shakeout because the manufacturing capacity is too large for the market and some will not make it through the contraction.

    4. 1Rafayal

      Personally, I would be interested to see how many "old" PM'S that have been shipped over to impoverished countries are in use.

      Years back, I worked in a school during the switch from Acorn machines to Windows based machines. We boxed up all the Acorn stuff and donated it to a charity collecting working computers for poor countries who wanted to provide at least some basic IT education.

      Granted, the comparison between Acorn and Windows is beyond the point now, but I do know quite a few schools donated old machines and equipment to similar charities during the first few years of the new century. I wonder who uses them now, if at all.

      1. Chika
        Happy

        Granted, the comparison between Acorn and Windows is beyond the point now, but I do know quite a few schools donated old machines and equipment to similar charities during the first few years of the new century. I wonder who uses them now, if at all.

        Well... now that you mention it...

        (Keep quiet, you two! Maybe they won't notice!)

    5. Boris1558

      The non-connection business use of local office computers was quite low pre-internet. Most (about a 10 to one ratio) of the computer "like" university devices in the mid 80s were used to connect to somewhere which quickly meant the Internet as it became available late in the late 80s. All the people I knew who had computers at home in the 80s used them for games or bulletin-board serving/access hardly business like activities pre-internet.

      The number of my IT department colleagues who truly need more that a second screen and a "real" keyboard in addition to their laptop or tablet is about 1 in 70 (while about 1 in 4 think they do).

      1. 1Rafayal

        @Boris1558

        I think the point I failed to make is this: whilst we are all whizzing away with our fancy new wundermachinen, what is the third world using, if anything at all?

        A lot of UK business has been donating old computing equipment for almost a decade to organisations like UNICEF and Save the Children. What has happened to that equipment? Who uses it? Does it even get on the Internet? What software does it run?

        There must be a whole demographic out there that we simply don't see because we are arguing the toss over which version of which operating system is more superior etc. And, from a distinctively tacky point of view, is there an untapped market out there?

        I know Microsoft tried to pedal a basic version of Windows XP or 7 a few years back, a Starter edition or something, for developing countries (quite why they would want a hobbled version of an older Windows when they could get a fully featured Linux distro was beyond my capacity to reason at the time).

        These must be places where Internet availability will be patchy at best, so offering Stuff as a Service wouldn't really work that well, if people even wanted it.

        I guess that's why Zuckerberg and Co are trying to give Africa free Internet, because Stuff as a Service is what they really, really need right now.

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          "A lot of UK business has been donating old computing equipment for almost a decade to organisations like UNICEF and Save the Children. What has happened to that equipment?"

          Given that this is old equipment before it gets shipped one wonders how much longer it survives. In fact, how much survives the rigours of shipment. Having said that, any trip to the local skip site shows a selection of old PCs and monitors in the electronics cage. What happens to those? And how many of those PCs have been wiped?

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Do gamers even buy PCs though? I never met anyone who did. They're too fussy about picking the exact components, especially GFX card, low latency RAM, and storage, to just grab something off the shelf.

    1. MrXavia

      They do for laptops, the choice for high end laptops is very small...

      PC wise, I think the high end has always been a DIY market

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        By choice we mean MSI.

        But the market for gaming laptops is even smaller than the market for gaming PCs

        1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

          "By choice we mean MSI"

          Eurocom uber alles.

    2. NoneSuch
      Thumb Up

      Absolutely correct. I built my last gaming rig three years ago with hand picked parts and it still out-performs brand new Dells today.

    3. Greg J Preece

      Been a PC gamer my whole life, and I'd never consider a pre-built tower. Aside from wanting to know exactly what's in it/having it match my spec, and the honest satisfaction I get from putting one together, pre-builts are often a complete rip-off. $1400 towers labelled as "premium gaming" PCs that turn out to be running 750GTs, the lowest possible quality of PSU, that kind of thing.

      1. PhilBack

        800W is not the standard part

        Nor are silent fans or usable cases.

        DYI all the way!

    4. PatientOne

      @ massivelySerial

      Yes, gamers do indeed buy PCs and not just get the parts to build the PC themselves. They do, however, tend to go to specialist suppliers for said PC's, and not to the likes of DELL or HP who manufacture in bulk and don't use the top end components, nor allow pick-n-mix builds. These reports tend to ignore the smaller, specialist suppliers who are doing quite okay at the moment.

  3. Kurt S

    "The high-end, purpose-built gaming PC segment (for example, $1,000 or more) is where PC vendors should focus for long-term profitability, despite this segment's competitiveness," said Tsai.

    Shame a large percentage of that target audience tend to build their own then.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I had a friend at uni who's house was burgled, and his pride of joy gaming machine, with the colour co-ordinated LEDs and windowed case was stolen.

      The insurance company gave him, not cash of equivalent value, but a beige box PC. The look on his face still haunts me today.

      1. Kurt S

        I can imagine, the poor sob, that's the stuff of nightmares that is.

      2. fattybacon

        Insurance win

        You need to spell out to your insurance company what was inside.

        I had an £150 Dell netbook stolen, that by outlet flook had a 3G data card inside and an SSD. They replaced it with a £500 Dell ultrabook because they couldn't find anything else with a 3G in on their list.

    2. DiViDeD Silver badge

      "target audience tend to build their own "

      The last off the shelf system I bought was a 486DX-33, at a time when Commander Keen represented the pinnacle of PC gaming (oh yes!).

      Even that didn't get off scott free, since I replaced RAM, CPU, storage and added a 'graphics' card before moving up to my first DIY machine. The trouble with retail gaming rigs is that they always have the last, or last but one graphics hardware, the PSU that *might* be good enough for Far Cry, as long as you don't do something stupid like turn everything up to 11 or SLi a couple of Titan Blacks, which is EXACTLY what hardcore gamers will do!

      Gamers setting video options on their new game don't need a set of switches and sliders for AA and anisotropy, they simply need a button that says 'Everything. Max'. And if it can overclock the GPUs and CPU while it's at it, that'll do nicely.

      Gamers don't rely on a warranty to protect against failure, they rely on replacing everything that might be suss with something in steel capped boots way overspecced for the job. And they never, ever, build down to a price.

      If PC manufacturers are going to rely on gamers for their future sales, they'll have to either trawl the supply chain for military spec hardware (preferably with a couple of blue LEDs attached), or just shut up shop and go back to building washing machines.

      A few years ago someone asked me where I bought my gaming rig. When I told her I'd built it she asked "So how much money did that save you?"

      Save? SAVE??

      1. Boothy

        Re: "target audience tend to build their own "

        Similar for myself.

        My first ever Windows PC was an off the shelf unit, and that was back in 1998 If my memory is correct?! (I was an Amiga 4000 & 1200 user at the time). The PC was a Pentium II, the type with the CPU on a card, rather than the usual ZIF socket.

        This was also my last ever Windows PC that I bought (although I did buy a Laptop at one point).

        Since then its been Triggers Broom. Update this, update that, replace this etc. None of the original components left now other than the case, which stands empty now.

        No idea how much I've spent over the years, and also don't really care!

        1. Chris Griffiths
          Thumb Up

          Re: "target audience tend to build their own "

          Same here. Looking at my PC now, it's exactly the same as when I build it in 2007. I've only swapped the case, motherboard (twice), CPU (three times), memory (same), HDDs (three swaps and an addition), monitors (on my 4th) and soundcard (removed). But at least I kept the same DVD-RW all the way through!

          Just today I treated myself to a new PSU to help with my rebooting issue*

          *vanity project to tidy up my cabling and stop my case bulging

      2. Chika

        Re: "target audience tend to build their own "

        When it comes to PCs, while I do have laptops that were off the shelf, I've never bought a desktop PC. I've always bought components and built it myself going back to my first self-build, an AMD K6 II/Gigabyte board based system. That kept going for quite a while until I cooked the CPU by forgetting to hook up the fan during a case swap.

        The only off-the-shelf PCs I ever bought were Risc PCs, and they are pretty solid beasts!

        Even a blind pig stumbles across an Acorn now and again!

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Well, if Gartner says it's pretty much dead, then it's either totally dead or there will be a renaissance.

    1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

      Gartner? Aren't they dead already?

      If the PC is dead then I take it that everyone inside Gartner has ditched theirs?

      If not then Gartner should die NOW!

      1. Roq D. Kasba

        Re: Gartner? Aren't they dead already?

        Gartner must pay The Reg to publish their press releases, the past few have been at best dubious but with very little editorial snark.

      2. Anonymous Blowhard

        Re: Gartner? Aren't they dead already?

        From the numbers quoted, it looks like they've stopped using calculators as well.

        "an estimated 232 million units in 2016" worth "an expected $137m" equates to a unit price of 59 cents.

    2. J. R. Hartley Silver badge

      Is 2016 the year of Gartner on the desktop?

      Probably not.

  5. Naselus

    Since it's a Gartner Report

    That more or less guarantees that the PC market is about to quintuple in size in the next 3 years.

  6. Christian Berger Silver badge

    "Ultramobile premium"

    For Garner that probably means "Ultrabooks" which are huge slaps of a laptop... for some reason optimized to be thin. That's not portable. A portable device would be like a Palmtop.

    Also all we are seeing right now is the "home computer" crowd moving towards tablets and "smart"phones. Those are the people who used to have traditional home computers and TV-sets connected to them. As PCs became cheaper, they moved to them, causing in part the "Windows Boom" in the 1990s. Now they move away from that market. What is left are more professional users, people who want to actually work with their computers...

    and those people don't care about pre-loaded crap. They want to have the operating system they want, not whatever Microsoft considers fashionable at the time.

    1. spiny norman

      Re: "Ultramobile premium"

      I'd agree there was a "home computer" market that sold PCs to people who didn't really need one, but there was no viable alternative for what they did need. Now there are alternatives - phones and tablets - they've gone there in droves.

      I don't play games, but I still wanted a PC with decent graphics that would drive a big screen that I could actually do stuff on. I ended up with what I suppose you'd call a mid-range gaming machine, which I didn't get from one of the big vendors. I'm ok with Windows 10, but it was nice not to have a load of other sponsored junk to remove.

  7. BarryUK

    Hmm, seems to be confusing meeeeelions with BEEEELIONS in this article.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      2016 - the Year of the $0.59 PC?

      Being a Gartner report, three orders of magnitude is an acceptable error bar...

    2. F. Svenson

      Glad I wasn't the only one stumped by revenue under $1 per unit shipped.

  8. tempemeaty
    Facepalm

    Is Microsoft the elephant in the room...?

    As long as pc makers continue to rely on Microsoft to make their PCs sell nothing is going to change.

    * sits back watching everything circle the drain *

  9. Chronos Silver badge
    Holmes

    The PC...

    ...you have is perfectly adequate. You are not a Phombie (phone zombie, wandering around looking at a smartphone and not watching where you're sodding well going, wishing you had some brains) and you don't want Windows 10 despite Macrosoft more or less ramming it down your throat, so SALES are dead.

    The PC's demise is greatly exaggerated.

    1. bombastic bob Silver badge

      Re: The PC...

      "The PC's demise is greatly exaggerated."

      WELL! SAID!

      As you pointed out, SALES are dead. well, not ENTIRELY dead. Just dropping and low.

      why?

      a) user perception of "better". Win-10-nic and "Ape" don't 'look better' or 'perform better' than existing (say windows 7) machines. Moore's law isn't making them 'faster enough' than 'what you already own'.

      b) the 4-inchers [aka 'phone zombies'] who do ALL of their computing on a 4-inch phone screen, do faceb**ch, tw*tter, and texting [the new 'messenger'] MOST of the time. They buy new 'toys' to do this with, and they're nearly always a 4-inch 'phone factor'.

      - which leads to -

      c) SALES are currently driven by the 4-inchers. This drives CLUELESS MARKET-DROIDS into "feeling" that "the PC is dead". which is WRONG.

      HOW TO FIX IT:

      give people a reason to WANT to get a new PC/laptop to replace the old one!

      [as of now, "Ape" and Win-10-nic are DIS-incentives to get something new]

      /me points out: sales figures are more like a derivative, not an integral, and nobody is tracking "the depletion rate" of existing machines, now are they? So it's an incomplete picture at best.

    2. Shadow Systems Silver badge

      Re: The PC...

      Very well said!

      I am in the market for a new machine & have been shopping the various players in the desktop market. I can get very nice deals on awesome hardware (how about a quad core, 6th gen, 4GHz, i7 with 32Gigs of DDR4 RAM & a 250Gb M.2 SSD for $1,200USD from System76? Is that good enough?) for less than the cost of a similarly equipped laptop. "Thin & Light" critters need not apply, they can't even come CLOSE on specs much less performance, & certainly not at that price point.

      So I can shop around to find the best deal on the hardware I want in the configuration I need, & work with the seller to tweak it even farther, all for a price undreamed of ~5 years ago. And best of all, if I don't want Windows on it I don't HAVE to get it. Most of the major vendors try to insist, but all it takes is the phrase "Do you want to make this sale or do you want to leave MS on it?" to get them to back off. You obviously can't do this via a website, but if you get the basics of the system you want there first & then call their sales line, that's where the haggling & tweaking comes into play.

      It *really* pounds the lesson home if you configure the hardware with $Vendor1, get it RIGHT up to the point of giving them your credit card, then asking about either it being a bare bones (no OS) or Linux box. If they refuse then you shrug, say "Guess I'll take my money somewhere else then..." & wait a few seconds before hanging up. They NEED that sale, they're hurting for the money, so it's a buyer's market. If they refuse to play, you can take your ball & go elsewhere.

      Like System76, where the aforementioned desktop can be had by configuring your own "Rattle Pro" machine to the top of the line bits they offer, & *still* not come anywhere near what others would charge for a pitifully equipped "Thin & Light" supposedly "Gaming" laptop.

      I'm not trying to flog S76, I've got no ties to them at all, but I was _SO_ impressed by the value you can get from a dealer if you tell them you want a desktop rather than a laptop. They fall all over themselves to make that sale, thus ensuring you can get some massively sweet hardware for very little (comparitive to laptops) cost.

      The fact that you can then "force" them to either give it to you without Windows on it or as a Linux (usually Ubuntu) box instead is just icing on the cake.

      Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to go browse the vendors again. I like configuring one of those supposedly "dead" PC desktops & cackling gleefully at the prices...

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The little hand held jobs will never replace the PC. The reasons for the loss of sales is not just people buying mobs to view facebook. In the early days of computing, people often upgraded every 2 years because they needed additional computer power and features to do their jobs. I remember upgrading from an old 8086 computer to a 286 because the 286 had 4 meg of memory and a 80 meg hard drive and was much faster. I upgraded my 286 for a 486 because the 486 had windows 3.10 (a gui which made things easier to do), and a 160 meg hard drive. Right now, my computer does anything I need it to do. It has a stable operating system (Linux) and I have little need to upgrade. Likewise corporations are less likely to upgrade every two years because 1. their existing system does everything that the corporation needs to have done. With extensive investment in software,it would be very costly to upgrade to a new set of computers and operating system and their would be little to show for it. Just a few thoughts

    1. Richard Jones 1
      WTF?

      Re @AC

      I started with the 8086 running DOS and no internet at all. I built some forecasting models use Lotus 123, then we got hold of the 8088(?) twice as fast but doing much the same thing. I went through a whole herd of such machines, many with no HD and using sneakernet to collect process data for daily and weekly stats processing. The saving on paper printout per machine allowed them to replaced every 6 weeks. I never remember any of them every needing to be replaced..Then the 286 flew in, followed by the 386 and 486 and on and ever upwards, Now I am retired my i3 has been running fine for 6 years or so. My 2008 portable now runs Windows 10, though the only move it makes these days is from the bag to my desk for a weekly backup and to collect a few bits of data. When I can get a mobile phone with a 23 inch or bigger screen, a proper keyboard, no touch screen and a battery that last more than 5 minutes, 5 days would be nice, then Gartner, you can send me a postcard. Oh and this beast should fit into a shirt pocket and ensure hands free is a way of life, just like my existing phone.

      So 8 year old portable; check.

      So 6 year old desk PC;check

      So 10 year old mobile; check

      Yes all present and correct.

      1. Dadmin
        Facepalm

        Re: Re @AC

        Small point, but; "no touch screen"

        Then don't touch it! You do know that you can pair a normal bluetooth mouse to any Android device and it just puts up a standard pointy cursor for you, don't you? I've not tried this on my new iPhone, but I suspect its the same; someone plopped in support for a standard mouse driver, but it's not an attractive feature for most users, so they say nothing about it, but it's right in there for you to use.

        Personally the PC market is an overpriced joke. Unless I'm going to get a high-end gaming rig, which I can just build myself, the "reward" for updating the hardware (better graphics, faster apps, quieter fans, bigger mem and disks) is almost non-existant. There just aren't that many daily apps (applications for you old, crusty types) that require more horsepower than what you can get in a budget system.

        I do plan on updating my aging MacMini(circa 2008) soon, but for PC I really don't have a need since I am mostly a console gamer. The prices for hardware need to come down for people to upgrade and use a desktop system. Perhaps there are too many manufacturers and some need to step aside or get purchased by a bigger player?

        Personally, I got gifted a Lenovo x220 core i7 with 16GB of RAM and a 200GB+ SSD last winter when my last gig's regular IT crew were upgrading the laptop fleet. My bro said "hey, you want one of these old laptops?" Now I have a dedicated Linux Mint system and if need be a Windows 8 OS without a license. Works in a pinch when some payment site has their services locked into an IE browser only mode. Anyway, do I even need to mention Raspberry Pi? Holy crap, even Intel does not get the picture; no one is going to buy a $250+ NUC system when, if you don't live under a rock, you can get a killer box for less than $40 for the naked board. NO ONE!

        REPENT SINNERS, BEFORE YOU WASTE MORE MONEY ON HARDWARE THEY SHOULD JUST GIVE OUT FOR FREE!!11

        1. Roland6 Silver badge

          Re: Re @AC

          re: Small point, but; "no touch screen"

          Well whilst I can appreciate the desire not to buy a system with a touch screen, a good second best is to simply disable the touch screen - something MS made very easy in Win7 and I expect is also very easy to do in Linux...

        2. Updraft102 Silver badge

          Re: Re @AC

          "You do know that you can pair a normal bluetooth mouse to any Android device and it just puts up a standard pointy cursor for you, don't you?"

          But will that instantly reconfigure the OS to make better use of screen space, now that huge onscreen controls aren't needed to cope with large, fleshy fingers? Will the OS be able to provide feedback to the user when the mouse arrow hovers over something as it does on operating systems built around a mouse? Will the self-hiding UI elements resize themselves to a more reasonable level and stop auto-hiding once they can afford to take up less of the content window?

          When you build for touch, you have to bake a lot of bad UI features into the OS to make it work. If you're using a touch device, the compromises are necessary evils; you deal with them because there is no other choice. But if you're using a mouse-based pointing paradigm, those necessary evils are wholly unnecessary. That's why some of us reject Windows 10 on the desktop-- even if there is no touchscreen on the system, we still get a confusing mess of half native Windows (mouse based) UI and half touch UI, with the latter forcing us into the compromises for touch support without any compensatory benefit that makes it worthwhile.

      2. Updraft102 Silver badge

        Re: Re @AC

        "When I can get a mobile phone with a 23 inch or bigger screen, a proper keyboard, no touch screen and a battery that last more than 5 minutes, 5 days would be nice, then Gartner, you can send me a postcard."

        That's a good start, but phones are still essentially disposable items, and PCs have gotten to a nice point where they are durable and technologically relevant for years after purchase (which is the cause of the gnashing of teeth regarding how the PC business is "doomed" because people keep using them until they no longer work... you know, like just about every other product people own and use. Are toasters doomed because people aren't throwing away working examples and buying new every two years?

        Mobile phones are meant to be thrown away after a short period of use. They're difficult to service, typically being glued together, with their batteries soldered in. They are often flimsy and allow the screen to crack quite easily. Their batteries have short service lives. Android devices often end up being obsolete, security wise, a few months after you get one, since the cellular carrier has no incentive to keep you using your old phone longer and thus never releases a patch (or does so one or two times and then calls it an EOL'd product).

        Apple products tend to do better (though still not even close to how long you get support with Windows, and even then you can install another version of Windows or Linux post-EOL and remain patched forever) but then you have to put up with the walled garden and the number of features Apple has arbitrarily made off limits to you-- like even seeing that there is a file system under there somewhere. It's fine, I guess, if you're talking about a content-consumption toy, but if you have more serious needs, iOS isn't going to cut it.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Every few months I have the Pavlovian urge to upgrade

      But then I think "how can I actually justify this? My current box still does everything I need reasonably quickly!" so the credit card gets put away again.

      1. DiViDeD Silver badge

        Re: Every few months I have the Pavlovian urge to upgrade

        "But then I think "how can I actually justify this?"

        Do what I do - Just buy another Graphics card. Or some more cold cathodes. Or a bigger fan with even more LEDs on it. Or a case with more or bigger windows, so people can see how much you've spent on cold cathodes and LEDs. Or (and I must admit I did this) a USB astronaut on a stick whose eyes light up when you lift his helmet (QUIET at the back!).

        You'll be amazed at how much that improves your spreadsheet work.

        or not

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    there is a lot more to a computer than just Surfing the Internet And games. I for one do word processing, Accounting, photo editing, CAD work, and some software development. Whereas some of these things can be done with the laptop, The speed and graphics of a laptop is still not fast enough for some things. And tablet computers are good for the field,but I don't know of anyone who wants to do CAD work on them. and as far as the touchscreen goes unless you need the exercise, a mouse is much more efficient. Especially on a large screen. I don't know of anyone who would want to use a 21 inch touchscreen setting on the desktop for very long. It's fine for the movies and TV shows, but in real life It's just not feasible.

    I think the market has just been saturated with good desktops. and with the economy as it is, They are not replacing them as quickly. Also the innovation in computing has slowed in some cases hitting a brick wall. New technology has to be developed that can and should replace the older technology. And I'm not talking about some hyped up piece of garbage that is presented as new technology. Most people that I know, would rather use a desktop computer than a tablet or phone for There general work.

    I can remember hearing about the demise of the desktop computer when the laptops came out. It has not happen yet. there's a niche that each technology holds in the marketplace. And there is a need for the desktop computer, and there will be for several more years at least.

    1. Martin-73 Silver badge

      One of the really BIG issues with laptops is the keyboards suck. Always have and always will (except for some early 90s IBM ones I believe).

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Ahhh how I miss my T42! Haven't had a good laptop keyboard since, although frankly the Apple ones aren't too bad.

  12. ChubbyBehemoth

    As long as you didn't have to stare at a shitty small screen like the mobile has in general I wouldn't care about the PC. However, as long as no-one creates a set of modular machines that I can grid for extra processing power when I need it to drive some compute intensive task, gives me the option to use a decent keyboard and screen, I don see my DIM machine leave my desktop any time soon. In fact it direly needs an upgrade on many levels except for the software. Linux certainly covers all my needs and to my experience does a far better job at it these days than any commercial OS I ever used. The case for Open Source and Open Standards is pretty much set for me.

    If any manufacturer would ever start building hardware that you can easily extend and upgrade without the hassle of having to pull out wires and unscrew things while at the same time keeping the old stuff useful for cannibals like me, they'd have a winner in at least the self builder market. It would also allow an easier entry for the IoT if all those gadgets could do a tad more than just make coffee, but would add something more to the mix than just pointing out the thing is empty and needs a refill.

    The same bloody thing has happened with the smart phone. A machine more powerful than my old Pentium machines ever where and it is limited to do just a few things, is a bitch to upgrade and if you try and run a more useful OS on it runs out of power rather fast. So it will probably need some docking station for power if you want to grid it, but that could make a rather nice new type of rack mount.

    And no, I don believe in cloud computing that I see pretty much as the new thin client model with better connections that will still fail regularly leaving you with a blank screen. Nor is large part of the world ready for anything like it. The mobile drive has shown that people want their compute power close to them and easily portable with some measure of possession of their data. Is it really that hard to get a grip on that concept?

  13. J. R. Hartley Silver badge

    Times have changed

    I spent a grand (through a staff purchase scheme) on a top spec i7 PC, two GFX cards, and three delightful monitors.

    I won't be buying a new PC ever again.

    1. Tchou
      Thumb Up

      Re: Times have changed

      I use a medium specced desktop (i5, HDD -> no SSD, no Gfx, 8Go of standard RAM, FreeBSD as an OS) mainly for browsing the net and programming. The embedded Intel graphic chip is not yet supported by the OS so I don't even have full power but it runs 2D games without problems.

      Unless some major problem, I may change machine in 10 years.

  14. ma1010 Silver badge
    Facepalm

    "Me, too!"

    As many other posters have mentioned, Gartner is full of bollocks. I'm a power user and minor-league gamer, and built my PC many years ago. As time goes by, I upgrade the MB/processor/ram now and then, change out the graphics card, fit a new power supply and add a new HD to it. I have an old 750 GB Windows XP HD, a 2TB Windows 7 HD, and a newer 3TB Linux HD in it. Mostly use the older HD's just for the data they have stored on them and run Win 7 in a no-Internet VM when I need it. Haven't "bought a new pc" in over 10 years. But my PC is very much alive and gets used quite a lot. I backup images regularly to (normally) offline storage in case some ransomware, etc. manages to slip in.

  15. Wade Burchette

    PCs are no longer the first or only devices users are choosing for internet access

    It would be if Windows 7 was still available in retail stores.

  16. Een8nope

    Consider the nonsense of buying a desktop for your home

    Let us do the mental experiment of thinking that mobile internet is cheap and that games, messaging, E-Mail, telephone, video and internet access are all available in a portable device in your pocket, wherever you are and whenever you need.

    Why would any sensible consumer in that case invest in a device that mostly sits at home and relies on a physical cable for internet connection? Why would one even need a print-out? Other than home professionals or hobbyists, I cannot imagine a future for the home pc.

    Even for companies it's the applications that are keeping PCs alive and I would expect that the applications will also shift to a more platform-agnostic paradigm, eventually.

    1. moiety

      Re: Consider the nonsense of buying a desktop for your home

      Phones are fine if all you're doing is consuming; but if you want to Get Shit Done you need a proper computer. You need proper input devices for some tasks; a big monitor for others; and lots of processor for yet others.

    2. Roland6 Silver badge

      Re: Consider the nonsense of buying a desktop for your home

      Why would any sensible consumer in that case invest in a device that mostly sits at home and relies on a physical cable for internet connection?

      Following your logic, this would suggest the market for big screen TV's and their associated cable services is about to crash...

    3. Updraft102 Silver badge

      Re: Consider the nonsense of buying a desktop for your home

      I have an Android tablet that I hardly use, but my desktop PC gets used every day (hey! It's in use now, being typed on by me as I write this message). The experience is so vastly superior to what I get on the tablet, I can't imagine why anyone would want to use a mobile as a primary device (and most people are doing it on phones, which are even smaller!)

      You know, I don't need to be "connected" at all times when I am out. If I am out with friends, I spend the time actually talking to them and enjoying the company. When I see kids out somewhere together, half the time they're all glued to their phones, not talking to one another, just furiously tapping away at the tiny glowing screen. That doesn't strike me as an improvement over my way.

      If I am out for non-social reasons, I perform whatever task is at hand, then I can return home and use my PC for whatever I want to do. Rather than waste time playing with a mobile (which makes it take that much longer for me to do whatever I am doing), I get it done and return home and use the PC there.

      The only real value I see in mobile devices (as a private user) is when you're stuck waiting somewhere. So for that, sure, they're useful, but I'm not going to give up my PC in favor of a vastly inferior tiny little thing because I can use it in a waiting room or at the gate of an airport waiting for the plane to start boarding. My PC is still the primary device; the mobile is a satellite device that can fill in the gap (poorly) when I am stuck outside of the house waiting for something beyond my control.

    4. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Consider the nonsense of buying a desktop for your home

      "Let us do the mental experiment of thinking that mobile internet is cheap and that games, messaging, E-Mail, telephone, video and internet access are all available in a portable device in your pocket, wherever you are and whenever you need."

      OK, my mental experiment runs like this: Everyone in even my rural neighbourhood uses mobile internet for video at the same time. Bandwidth saturates. How do you increase it? Smaller and smaller cells. Very quickly you get to the point where you need lots of backhaul to service those small cells - you've reinvented internet connection to the home and wi-fi.

  17. W. Anderson

    The topic is dramatic PC sales declines

    It is noticeable that all the comments by PC Gamer systems DIY-ers, nor wishes that Gartner should die, has no relevance what-so-ever to the "fact" that PC sales have experienced dramatic loses for over 5 years now, and Gartner is only one of several Tech research firms to report " the exact same" results.

    All the gaming PC building in the world will not reverse such substantive PC sales declines, and trashing Gartner - and therefore all those credible firms/organizations with same report - is infantile, and shows that Windows anal supporters just don't deal with reality.

    Get a new life!

    1. GrumpenKraut Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: The topic is dramatic PC sales declines

      > Get a new life!

      Dude, that sounds cool! Where can I download one?

  18. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
    Paris Hilton

    Garnet estimates will be $24.5m

    Garner reckons by 2019, it'll be the largest segment of the PC market

    Who are these gentlemen and aren't we missing Mssr Gartor, Garrot, Garton and Garfield?

  19. Asterix the Gaul

    IMHO,the reason that PC sales slumped globally is pretty obvious,the 'global' downturn.

    Knowing Microsoft,with their 'more money than sense' attitude,it would NOT have occurred to them,that a global 'downturn' = less disposable income globally,therefore prices ought to fall,in order to maintain sales at the cost of reduced profits.

    That is plain common sense, maintain sales revenue,keep tightening up on cost overheads & hope for increasing market share in a shrinking global business pool until the global 'recovery'.

    In the UK, utility companies fleece the consumer, 'regulators' are bought & paid for by the utility companies along with Ministers in government.

    That's the logical explanation for government indifference to utility price increasesm, that depress consumer spending, prolonging 'austerity' & reducing consumer spending from less disposable income.

    As for replacing my PC rig, I have always assembled my own,I still have,as well as intend to keep my current rig for years to come.

    It's comprised of a an ASUS Z77 Sabertooth mobo,3770K cpu,16GB Corsair Vengenace LP RAM, x1 INTEL 530 -240GB SSD,x2 INTEL 530 120GB SSD's & Nvidia GTX670 GPU.

    It's really quick,it boots W7 64bit in 5 sec's flat,plays any game at good frame rates with no lag.

    In addition,my EIZO FlexScan HD2441W displays top notch graphics,it cost £950 & was worth every penny I spent on it nearly 10 years ago.

    I have troubleshooted hundreds of computers for people over the years, I find that a lack of regular maintenance & 'tuning-up' is a major factor in 'slow' running computers,as are app's like AV,which 'hog' resources.

    Again,WINDOWS itself eats up drive space,with updates taking more than the O.S itself.

    Any really 'old' laptop\desktop will benefit from a properly set up Linux distro to give a new lease of life.

  20. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

    "...$850 for an entry-level gaming PC notebook..."

    I know Solitaire's a game but come on...

  21. ben_myers

    "Gartner reckons by 2019, it'll be the largest segment of the PC market in revenue terms, account for just under $58m in revenue." Is this an actual statement by Gartner? Just under $58m? Not much at all. If an accurate prediction, how much revenue does the rest of the PC market generate?

    What mind-altering substances are used by Gartner to create these fantasies? It was apparent that the last Gartner report was paid for by Microsoft. This one? Paid for by Verizon? Sheesh!

  22. Ropewash

    Hmmmmm...

    I'm not quite sold on convergence replacing the desktop just yet. Or ever actually.

    Try loading Mastercam on your phone. Let's pretend it's possible. Now set up a part with some complex topography and close tolerances, set your rough and finish tools and tell it to render the toolpath with tolerance comparisons on. Watch your processor briefly turn into a ball of plasma.

    Go buy a desktop and a Quadro.

    The big PCs are not going anywhere.

    Disclaimer : I'm not our resident Mcam guy. I just put together the desktop for him after he showed me what his job was like on the company supplied - new model, not crap - laptop. The render times went from 50minutes to 5 minutes.

    1. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

      Re: Hmmmmm...

      My job similarly can't be done on anything but a PC

      1. DiViDeD Silver badge

        Re: My job similarly can't be done on anything but a PC

        Same here. I'm beginning to come to the conclusion that anyone who says 'I can happily do anything I need to using my phone and tablet' doesn't actually have a job that *actually* produces anything. They may have a 'management position', but that's not the same thing.

        allegedly

  23. Anna Logg

    Am I reading this right?

    "Shipments of PCs have sunk over the last five years - in revenue terms, not literally - from 343 million units in 2012 to an estimated 232 million units in 2016. Escherich stated: "In terms of revenue, the global PC market has contracted from $219m in 2012 to an expected $137m in 2016.""

    So for 2016 estimated shipments of 232 million PCs will only generate revenue of 137 million bucks? - about 60 cents per PC? No wonder they're in trouble, or I've missed something.

  24. 0laf Silver badge
    Holmes

    I think a lot of households will have one full desktop for the foreseeable future.

    Phone/Tablets are fine devices for consuming content but they get pretty tiresome pretty quickly when you need to do any serious work like document creation or spreadsheets. Even with a keyboard. Many households have school age kids and they will have a fair bit of typing going on.

    Also agree with other about component sales. I've never run a high end system but I've built my own desktops for the last 15yr. It's probably not cheaper than buying a system but if it breaks I know I can get parts to fit and not be scrabbling around to get hold of a propitiatory motherboard etc.

    Arguably they last longer as well since you can sort the cooling to your own standard and not try to pack everything into as small a space as possible. Although with some people there may be an element of Trigger's broom going on.

  25. DXMage
    Devil

    I've been hearing of the death of PCs for 20+ years.

    Oh the laptop is going to kill the PC then the "Thin Client) (aka the renamed dumb terminal) and that the PC was going to kill the Mainframe and so on. The Mainframe just went on to become "The Cloud" or "The Cluster", The PC is still around and will be for a very long time. Hell tablets and phones could just as well be dumb terminals and the Thin Client is still kicking around. About the only thing truly dead are punch cards I think at least I haven't seen or heard of any still in use anywhere.

    1. DiViDeD Silver badge

      Re: I've been hearing of the death of PCs for 20+ years.

      " About the only thing truly dead are punch cards"

      Careful now, or we'll hear from a commentard who still uses 80 column cards to run a critical system for some major Insurance Company.

      Insurance companies grow by absorbing other insurance companies, together with whichever proprietary legacy hardware that company ran its databases on. When I did a contract for an insurance company in the UK, I saw working examples of machines my granddad had told me about.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    PC Use

    I'm a network engineer and I have been in the field for a long time.

    As usual, Gartner states the obvious trends that anybody can see and detect, then they try to inject their opinion on things. I have never been impressed with Gartner Group.

    PC's are a lot more functional that smart phones and tablets. In fact, only the very young kids are obsessed with those smart phones and tablets, because they don't know any better (but they are learning).

    Smartphones and tablets take CONTROL out of the hand of the user, and put it in the hands of Google or Apple, or maybe Microsoft. They dictate what apps can be on your phone, and if they don't like it, they uninstall it remotely; even if you OWN the phone, all because you were stupid enough to go along with their contract.

    This trend is becoming more and more common, but that does not mean the PC market is dead.

    I prefer a PC over smartphone, or tablet any day, and if I can't use software that remains under MY control, then I don't use it. In fact, I don't use my smartphone for anything other than phone calls, and I'm looking to find otherways to make phone calls also.

    I run exclusively Linux on my desktops at home and at office, all because of corporate and government overreach. If by chance the PC market dies, I will stick to Rasberry PI.

    In summary, a lot of companies are losing out on a lot of business and all they need to do is remember that many of us are willing to pay, as long as everything remains in OUR control.

  27. ntevanza

    It's retail, stupid

    I've made this point before ad nauseam, but in Europe, PC manufacturers, distributors and retailers can't do retail. So ignoring the corporate market for the moment, they are getting what was coming to them.

    Apple excepted, go into a shop to buy a computer and you'll be greeted by a jumble sale of indistinguishable flotsam, sold by a desultory clan of kids with fantastical advice. Model ranges are both hopelessly fragmented and underrepresented (there'll be ten models there, but not the one you want). The shit screens and keyboard layouts you saw five years ago on laptops are still there. The machines are still noisy. They still have infuriating layout quirks, too few ports, breakable DC jacks, and shiny screens. They are reliably ugly - especially the ones trying to stand out by not being a grey box.

    Online, the experience is probably worse.

    Not being in the market for an Apple, which exhibits only some of this incompetence (keyboards and ports), I literally can't find anything to buy. So I go home and buy some components to upgrade what I have.

    It doesn't matter that people don't need PCs. I don't need a(nother) PC. I'm still trying, unsuccessfully, to buy one. People don't need new bicycles or cars or food mixers either. Those markets were saturated 30 years ago, but no-one's talking about the bottom falling out of them. A clue is that those things are designed, marketed and retailed properly.

    This problem is self inflicted at the retail end of the market.

  28. naf456

    I think soo many people disagree with this article.

    I just would like to say I am totally annoyed by everyone who seems to reference Apple products as a best in class type of device. Apple is a malicious dictating company that intelligently develops technology to lock users into and outof their platforms and to control and manipulate their users and developer community. There computers and peripherals are terrifically over priced, poor in performance and are built to be un-upgradable and unmaintainable. Getting down to the point, from personal experience, Apple Computers are the biggest pieces of crap I've ever seen, Apple being such a malipulative company for the computer ignorant and illiterate.

    IMO as a programmer, the two best pieces of equipment is my desktop and my laptop computers. There fast, upgradable, have large screens with tactile keyboards. I love my smartphone, but it sure ain't replacing my desktop.

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