When did the word change from global?
Businesses upgrading to Windows 10 forced global PC sales into the black for the first time in seven years in 2019, but it could have been so much better if Intel's chip drought had eased. Preliminary findings from Gartner pegged shipments at 261.23 million, up 0.6 per cent year-on-year, and rival analyst IDC reckons 266.69 …
I've never understood why people try to claim the Desktop PC is dead.
For home users - yes - most people are making the switch to tablets and/or a laptop, if they haven't already done so. But for people making real things, in the real world (including software for home users) - that's never going to be produced on a tablet. This applies in virtually every sector from manufacturing, finance, ecommerce, design, development, research, government, etc.
The form factor of desktops might change but nobody is going to design the CAD plans for a building on a mobile phone, for example.
Hardware mouse plus keyboard, and a large monitor (or 2 or 3 monitors) == no contest when doing serious work.
I think a lot of people confuse the fact that some business apps - particularly accountancy ones - are advertised as running on mobile so they can be used on the go. Well that is one use-case but from my experience it doesn't mean all financial institutions are suddenly abandoning their desktop PCs and doing 100% of their work on mobile.
The negative Apple stat is interesting but not surprising. Eye-wateringly expensive hardware which isn't always upgradeable. That's a no from me (even as an Apple fan) and a no from the majority of business users. Upgradable desktop hardware is still "a thing" even though some people also seem to think it's died a death.
"I've never understood why people try to claim the Desktop PC is dead."
The PC market as a whole is shrinking, but desktop sales have halved in 10 years.
While ~80 million units/year is nothing to sneeze at, it's likely to continue to decline at a similar rate (-5m/year) for the foreseeable future. Consolidation and significantly reduced margins have addressed some of the issues, but at some point we will see the reduction in volumes trigger price increases and further reduce sales, although many of these will become laptop/tablet sales.
As for upgrades, you are looking at less than 10% of the overall desktop market that upgrades hardware components after initial "deployment" i.e. components purchased within the first month of installation. That percentage is unlikely to change as the desktop market declines.
Apple is likely tracking underlying market conditions that the Windows 10 upgrades are hiding - it just means Apple will outperform the rest of the market over the next 18-24 months as the post-upgrade decline kicks in.
Almost everyone here has a laptop which connects to a screen or two. It's only data scientists who now use a desktop (workstation really) in addition to their laptop. As the likes of Jupyter and RStudio are advancing I can do a huge amount on my laptop in a web browser with the heavy compute done elsewhere now. If it wasn't for doing the odd bit of image processing in GUI-driven tools then I could lose the Linux workstation all together.
"It's only data scientists who now use a desktop"???
I still prefer a desktop when it comes to CAD but I can use a laptop/external monitors for most of my work.
I expect to be able to plug a mouse, keyboard and multiple monitors into a phone at some point. I'm not so sure we'll all be doing serious work on them though. Seems to me like phones are best suited for entertainment and simple transactions, while on the go.
Well, there are several unjustified assumptions in what you said.
1) “People making real things in the real world”
You are shortsighted in what you think “real work” is. Software development and accountancy is not the only “real work”
Tree surgeons, estate agents, doctors. Their use-case is all runs *just fine* on a tablet. [compare a doctor taking a tablet to a care home, versus a laptop, or typing up notes when they got back to office, which is what used to happen]
Even in financial institutions, only a fraction are making big pivot tables or writing large reports/analyses. The majority of bank employees are call centre, branch front of house, or HR/other support. None of those people need or want a desktop, just that’s been the legacy heap of junk given to them.
2) There *are* power users with greater needs, but max 200k-500k in the U.K. Plus the replacement rate drops to 5+years, as the capability stopped increasing. That’s 40-100k sales per year in the U.K., and maybe 2-5million worldwide. Not enough to support the PC manufacturing industry like it has been.
Put another way: large-key Desk Calculators are still a thing! Have a look in any Finance or Sales department, they still don’t use an app on their smartphones! But calculator sales aren’t enough to bother the balance sheet of a large manufacturer.
3) Yes, “people doing real work” as you define it, need a mouse, keyboard and two monitors.
But that’s not a desktop PC. Any laptop, and most tablets, can interface to those, wirelessly if necessary.
The market for large monitors, keyboard and mouse may well remain. But those are totally unbranded commodity, and decoupled from the underlying workload of application or even OS.
4) You don’t even need a desktop to *write software*. Almost all of the time, you’re either editing, reading/writing documentation etc. Compiling, you need more power. But most “proper” shops now have regular merge/compilation/automated unit test running on a shared Linux box in the corner. That’s one per ten engineers. There may be three monitors per software engineer, but only a single three-year-old laptop in a docking station.
You are shortsighted in what you think “real work” is
I actually wrote "This applies in virtually every sector"...
The point being that Desktop PC usage isn't limited to specific sectors. Generally speaking almost every type of workplace uses them to some extent.
"The majority of bank employees are call centre, branch front of house, or HR/other support. None of those people need or want a desktop, just that’s been the legacy heap of junk given to them."
Hang on, what should those people have then? Call center staff? Why would they have anything other than a desktop? It isn't legacy to give them a desktop - its what the job needs.
HR? In my experience, most HR people sit in an office all day. Why would they need something different to a desktop?
Front of house? Most bank branches I've seen have service desks, with security glass over the front. Why would they have anything other than desktops? Not so easy to use an OMR or coin scales if you're hovering about with an iPad...
You are doing the opposite I think - making out that real work is only done on mobile devices and not desktops. The reality is that in the majority of businesses, desktop PCs still rule supreme for working on. Laptops and tablets are often "extra" items as well, and some more modern businesses have swapped desktops for laptops with docks etc... but overall, go into ANY office building and you'll find desktop PCs. Go into your local mechanic workshop, and they'll have a desktop PC at the front for invoicing. Go into your local doctor's surgery, and every office will have a desktop.
"The PC market as a whole is shrinking, but desktop sales have halved in 10 years."
There was a time when PC hardware capabilities changed quickly - and each gave a significant performance improvement. My current desktop was a fast PC 10 years ago. For my non-tablet needs - performance would not be significantly improved by using a newer desktop offering.
My stock cupboard has a couple of reserve motherboards/graphics - returned from users whose mundane needs are now fulfilled by smart phones or tablets. Only the few dedicated gamers want desktop upgrades to support video cards with a faster bus.
Desktops are easy to upgrade if you buy the right CPU. For office work you can keep using the same PC for a decade or so, remember the gard disks tend to die before that, so always do regular backups.
I will wait a year or so to get a Windows 10 PC, since I can always to online with Linux Mint.
"I will wait a year or so to get a Windows 10 PC, since I can always to online with Linux Mint."
Nothing I do requires Windows to be online. On MS past practice - W10 would be likely to break my existing W7 applications/peripherals at some point. For future online functions Linux Mate will do the necessary.
I have an 8 core AMD mini tower running Windows 7 with SSD (upgraded at some point from spinning rust) and 16GB RAM. It was new when Windows 7 was pretty new and cost significantly less than half the price of a typical Apple PC at the time.
It is still used daily, still outperforms many laptops and still works great for multimedia, including 4k video (which is mainly what it is used for).
If Windows 7 becomes problematic, due to end of life, I can put Linux on it and it will even appear to run faster!
It would get hot if it wasn't water cooled, so the only reason to 'upgrade' to something newer is to reduce my electricity bill, but this is marginal compared to the cost of upgrading.
Gone are the days when CPU clock speed on the latest PCs appeared to double annually. We haven't even seen much improvement in the number of CPU cores or RAM on average hardware in the past 10 years.
So it's no wonder that PC sales have fallen, whatever form factor, because we haven't really seen any useful performance improvement in the past 10 years on the average PC. 10 years ago Libre Office or MS office and most other commonly used software ran just as well as they do now on the latest kit at that time, so why would anyone buy new kit???
Of course Microsoft bloats Windows to make it appear that we need new hardware and therefore pay more Microsoft tax, but it's amazing how fast quite a lot of older hardware is after migration to Linux.
Agree, I think the upgrade issue is more acute in those businesses who run basic systems, here it probably is wise to simply replace 3+-year-old W7 boxes with new W10 boxes. However, running something semi-decent and those 3+-year-old boxes will happily upgrade to W10.
For one client, in the third-sector, we are buying in refurbished 3 year old business machines which have W10Pro pre-installed - this being significantly cheaper and less work than refurbishing their existing W7 boxes.
I always assumed that the decline in Desktops would be non-linear.
Obviously a lot of people that used their home systems for email and browsing primarily have moved to laptops or just use their smartphone now.
But there are quite a few use-cases where you do need the power of a "proper" machine.
I reckon that we are at the point where the current tranche of desktop users are ones that really need them.
As for the increase, I wouldn't rule out the increased excitement by the resurgence of AMD into the mix with their better value, massively increased performance CPUs entering the desktop space, along with a plethora of interesting graphics cards,
In a mature market the sales growth is flat or very slow over a period of time. There will be year-to-year peaks and valleys even if the overall trend is flat or slow growth. I would not get to excited about this change unless it accelerates over a few years which I do not expect.
IMO this is just a plateau effect. Regardless of OS, current (eg last five years) technology is now "good enough" for most use cases. Not many Business apps need a lot of local processing capability, and for home users there is not much need for the average punter to upgrade.
Mobile phone sales are suffering the same problem for the same reasons.
So, both the business and home upgrade cycles are longer than they used to be => lower sales.
For laptops/notebooks, we now have: outboard video processors and displays via USBC, we have multi-gig NVME drives for maindrives, multi gig SATA SSD drives for storage, 32Gig RAM, and top notch processors all around. EVERYTHING on par with what a Desktop can do.
The laptop with USBC/Thunderbolt can do everything a Desktop can do for most users, and it is often cheaper, too.
My new (well, a couple of years old) Laptop cost $12,000.00. I don't expect to replace it for a long time. Part of the problem is that it is very difficult to actually find a proper Laptop or Desktop PC these days that is worth buying. It used to be that there was significant improvements in performance due to better motherboard features, however, this has pretty much stagnated with most PC hardware being "bottom of the line" garbage. Now the only thing that gets upgraded is more or faster CPU cores, which does almost nothing to improve performance -- and does not actually require a PC replacement.
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