Facing fierce competition from new types of mobile computers, PC shipments now projected to decline for first time since 2001.
To right the ship, PC OEMs
are coming out with Ultrabooks and other ultrathin and power efficient
computers that seek to bring many of the more popular features of
tablets to something that more closely resembles a traditional PC. Windows 8, which
supports touchscreen and features a tiled "fast and fluid" GUI, can
help with that. But to date, sales of Ultrabooks especially have been
disappointing, largely because the cost of the devices remains too high
(in the $1,000 range).
In its report circulated Tuesday, IHS
poses several key questions for the PC market, including whether
smartphones, tablets and other such gadgets will outsell PCs during the
crucial holiday season.
According to IHS, there are promising
signs that a strong rebound for PCs could occur next year. Though IHS
recently cut its forecast for Ultrabook sales in 2012 and 2013, the firm
said Ultrabooks and other ultrathin computers have the potential to
revive the PC market. The addition of Windows 8 to the mix could prove
potent and irresistible to consumers, IHS said.
The Windows 8 start screen, featuring application tiles.
But neither IHS's analysts, nor the millions of people with a vested interest in keeping the PC thriving, are sure whether new spins on the PC will stand up to
the powerful smartphone and tablet markets.
Steve, I agree with you on both counts. The graphic does look pretty foreboding. Still, the first decline in 11 years is significant. Not a collapse, but as you say, this may well mean PC shipments have peaked.
The IHS graphic is indeed visually misleading - it sure looks foreboding, but in fact the "decline" is merely 1.2%.
The real story is more that the PC industry has hit it's peak in shipments... which is a totally different message than an industry "collapsing".
Agree fully with the previous poster. The death of the PC has been mis-characterized ever since the iPad came out.
That IHS graphic presents a distorted picture, in that it shows bars starting from something other than zero. People visually integrate the change on a bar chart, and the graphic violates some basic principles of presenting data. Very non-Tufte, and a pretty poor graphic to boot. To paraphrase Dona Wong, a bar chart starting at something other than zero is like a misspelled word in a headline. Paint the picture correctly and the situation doesn't look so dire, it looks like noise in a flat market.
There are two questions here: (1) whether Win8 would help boost PC sales, and (b) whether tablets and smartphones are taking away from PC sales.
For a laptop or desktop PC, everything I've read about Win8 says that it offers no improvement over Win7. On the contrary, if anything. One problem a lot of people seem to have is the lack of the "start" button. Then again, there are third party apps that restore that start button, in Win8. Win8 appears to be tuned for touch screen type devices, and everything I read says that when used with keyboard/mouse and more distant screen, it is or feels compromised.
As to tablets and smartphones, my take is, only the Surface or similar, which can work like PCs, would potentially take away the need for PCs. Or the smartphone/PC hybrid concept:
Aside from these hybrid devices, which IMO could take away from bona fide PC roles, if PC sales are slacking off it is because people are spending their holiday money on portable toys instead, and/or because the PC market may be reaching saturation?
I'm curious, actually. Is the rate of toaster sales increasing rapidly? I doubt it but don't really know. And yet, few people would conclude that toasters are no longer in demand! (My wife likes "toaster ovens." So maybe that's a wrinkle, similar to comparison between desktop and notebook PCs? Overall, I doubt the sales of these devices is increasing.)