SAN FRANCISCO—China was the world's biggest PC market in 2012, the first time it top the U.S. for the top spot in any year, according to market research firm IHS.
PC shipmen to China totaled some 69 million units in 2012, 3 million more than the 66 million units that shipped to the U.S., according to an IHS report on the PC market. China's PC market is expected to grow moderately this year, according to the firm.
Beyond its massive size and population, China’s PC market exhibits distinct characteristics that set it apart from the computer trade elsewhere, according to IHS, which cited China's a vast untapped rural market and unique consumer-purchasing patterns. While desktop PC shipments lagged notebooks around the world, the two PC segments were on par in China in 2012, with an even 50-50 split, according to IHS.
“The equal share of shipments for desktops and notebooks in China is unusual, since consumers in most regions today tend to prefer more agile mobile PCs, rather than the bulky, stationary desktops,” said Peter Lin, senior analyst for compute platforms at IHS, in a statement.
Lin said the relatively large percentage of desktop PC shipments in China is due to huge demand in the country’s rural areas, which account for a major segment of the country’s 1.34 billion citizens. "These consumers tend to prefer the desktop form factor," Lin said.
But IHS expects China's PC market to change gradually as desktop PCs face rising competition from the high value proposition presented by notebooks. Notebooks will surpass desktops in China by 2014, tracking more closely with the worldwide desktop-to-notebook PC ratio of 36 to 64 percent, according to IHS.
China has previously surpassed the U.S. in PC consumption in specific quarters. In the second quarter of 2011, International Data Corp. reported that China's PC market surpassed the U.S.
I am surprised by the spread in the percentages of pre-installed OS PCs shipped vs no installed OSes. I wonder what is driving that factor? I do think that China is poised to take off in the personnel PC markets space as evidenced by the spread in personal vs corporate PC purchase numbers. I would expect that as the infrastructure expands and the costs continue to be driven down by the sheer volumes that more personal purchases will start to drive the market. Are there other factors involved that I am not aware of??
It would be useful to understand the motivations behind the numbers. Why so many desktops, and so many with no pre-installed OS, and why such small notebook screens? Is it just cost, or are there other factors?
Desktops cost less. Remember that the incomes in rural areas make a PC purchase a major item.
No OS is simple. China is a one copy country and people are not buying software. I am surprised they are not all using a Linux variant at this point.
If I were to hazard a guess as to why no OSes installed in such a large protportion of PC sales, I'd suggest a combination of bootleg copy of Windows the owner has access to, and perhaps use of Linux. But honestly, the bootleg copy of Windows seems the obvious reason.
I agree with the article that most likely, in the future, laptop/notebook form factors will gain over the desktop. Desktops are more interesting if you want flexibility in peripherals, though, and the lowest price for the most performance, so they are probably more appealing to first-time buyers. Eventually, people aren't so concerned about what they might want in the future, as they gain experience in having this PC.
Me, I still prefer desktops for their flexibility. But that argument will probably become less and less valid as desktops lose market share and the market for adapter cards loses steam. Just a guess.
The reason that most PCs in China are shipped with no pre-installed OS is that computer stores, many of which are small businesses rather than big-box stores, install pirated copies of Windows on them. Linux has nothing to do with it. I don't think anyone in China uses Linux except for some techies.
I recall a Microsoft exec saying that they make more money in Vietnam than they do in China.