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Windows 8 fails to stem falling PC sales

PC shipments are falling globally
Mon Jan 14 2013, 11:38
Networked PC computers

INDUSTRY ANALYSTS at Gartner have reported that PC shipments declined by five percent in the last quarter as people have started to adopt tablets.

According to the firm tablet sales have reduced sales of replacement PCs.

"Tablets have dramatically changed the device landscape for PCs, not so much by 'cannibalizing' PC sales, but by causing PC users to shift consumption to tablets rather than replacing older PCs," said Mikako Kitagawa, principal analyst at Gartner.

"Whereas as once we imagined a world in which individual users would have both a PC and a tablet as personal devices, we increasingly suspect that most individuals will shift consumption activity to a personal tablet, and perform creative and administrative tasks on a shared PC.

"There will be some individuals who retain both, but we believe they will be exception and not the norm. Therefore, we hypothesize that buyers will not replace secondary PCs in the household, instead allowing them to age out and shifting consumption to a tablet."

Low cost tablets have helped push sales forward and the analyst firm added that this could be good news for some PC makers, those that offer the more highly specified and priced PCs.

"This transformation was triggered by the availability of compelling low-cost tablets in 2012, and will continue until the installed base of PCs declines to accommodate tablets as the primary consumption device," she added.

"On the positive side for vendors, the disenfranchised PCs are those with lighter configurations, which mean that we should see an increase in PC average selling prices (ASPs) as users replace machines used for richer applications, rather than for consumption."

Pity the poor "disenfranchised PC". It couldn't even catch a break over the holiday period and despite Gartner finding that some people had bought low cost notebooks over Christmas, they barely caused a ripple in the figures.

Windows 8, which might have excited some people into a hardware upgrade, didn't really, because hardware was limited and expensive, and its launch is dismissed as not having "significant impact" on PC shipments.

HP, with a 16.2 percent market share, is the biggest fish in the PC pond thanks to its enterprise customer base, while Lenovo, with 15 percent, is in second place. Dell is in third with 10 percent market share

PC shipments were 17.5 million in the US in the fourth quarter of 2012. This was a two percent drop against the same period last year. PC shipments in EMEA were 28.1 million, a 9.6 percent decrease.

Gartner's findings echoes those of IDC, another industry analyst firm. IDC found that revenues have fallen in the market, and it too places HP at the top of the sales figures.

IDC said that vendors had failed to capitalise on the rollout of Windows 8 machines and had not marketed them well enough.

"Lost in the shuffle to promote a touch-centric PC, vendors have not forcefully stressed other features that promote a more secure, reliable and efficient user experience," said IDC senior research analyst Jay Chou.

"As Windows 8 matures, and other corresponding variables such as ultrabook pricing continue to drop, hopefully the PC market can see a reset in both messaging and demand in 2013." µ


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