The PC market is down -- but it’s not dead yet
Overall PC shipments are down, but analysts remain optimistic about future demand.
First the bad news: latest PC shipment figures from various analysis agencies show that the demand for computers, or at least PCs other than those built by Apple, is continuing to fall. IDC's worldwide quarterly PC tracker puts shipments over the last three months at less than 71 million -- that's a year-on-year decline of 10.8%.
Gartner is a little more optimistic. Its figures, also published Friday, put shipments at 73.7 million, a 7.7% drop.
Now the good news: although the demand has dropped, the PC is not dead, and this cooling of the market has forced companies from Microsoft and HP to Dell and Lenovo to get creative and exciting, and, as the first Windows 10 PCs hit the shelves, a turnaround is expected.
"The PC market continues to contract as expected, but we remain optimistic about future shipments," said Jay Chou, Research Manager, IDC Worldwide PC Tracker. "While PC shipments will be hampered in the short run by the availability of a free upgrade to Windows 10, the improved PC experience across user segments should drive longer-term demand for new PC hardware that is expected help stabilize the market in 2016 and beyond."
Gartner is similarly bullish about the PC's future. It says that 50% of consumers that it has polled are sizing up a new computer as a purchase over the next 12 months while just 21% are considering a tablet.
"This change in consumer preferences toward PCs was visible in the preliminary data, as we saw positive growth in U.S. notebook and premium ultramobile shipments," said Mikako Kitagawa, principal analyst at Gartner. "Soft recovery is expected to start in 4Q15, as Windows 10 product refreshes start to appear."
One company that appears immune from the current slide is Apple, which increased its global market share. It is currently the third most popular computer brand in the US and the fifth biggest vendor worldwide, despite the premium attached to its products.
As the holiday season approaches, Apple is expected to roll out a range of enhanced desktop computers including a 21.5-inch iMac with a 4K display, while at Ceatec in Japan this week, Dell and HP showed off some very impressive new Windows PCs -- both in desktop and notebook form -- that are bound to get consumers interested.
The tech event also appears to confirm that the big form factor for 2016 is going to be the hybrid notebook with detachable keyboard that Microsoft has popularized with its Surface Pro range.
Dell, Lenovo, HP and Sony have all debuted new devices that take the Surface's stance as a starting point.