SAMSUNG LEFT THE PC MARKET this week, announcing that it will no longer be selling laptops in Europe, most likely because no-one is buying them anymore.
While unexpected, the news didn't come as much of a shock, nor did it exactly rock the already-wavering PC industry to its core. Why? Well, name me a well acclaimed Samsung laptop. Exactly. It's not like any one will truly miss the company's Ativ Windows line-up. The PC market is largely dominated by the likes of Lenovo and HP, so it's probably for the best that Samsung has hung up its boots.
The news also comes not long after Sony revealed a similar announcement, that it would shelf its - probably more successful than Samsung's Ativ - Vaio range, selling it off altogether and freeing it from Sony's shackles so it can have a go at the market alone.
But unlike Sony, Samsung has admitted that it might bring the brands back. Samsung's PR told us the firm "will continue to thoroughly evaluate market conditions and will make further adjustments to maintain our competitiveness in emerging PC categories", meaning we may see it again sometime in the future if the market picks up. But probably not.
The PC market is taking a bit of a battering. According to IDC, worldwide PC shipments will decline by 3.7 percent to 303 million units in 2014. However, it is rather interesting that Samsung isn't making any cheap and cheerful Chromebook machines either, especially considering the surge in their popularity of late. Also, Gartner has said that this struggling PC market will fuel Chromebook sales going forward and it was only last month that the analyst outfit said Samsung is leading the Chromebook market in shipments, giving it a 65 percent market share in its 2013 figures.
I think exiting Chromebook manufacture might be a mistake by Samsung. They are the only laptops that are actually selling right now. Why throw in the towel when you're ahead? It's obvious the company have dropped Chromebooks to focus on its mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets and because the laptop industry in general is on very rocky water. But Gartner was predicting that Chromebooks could be the devices to save the dwindling market, as people look to cheap alternatives in the currently volatile financial climate, and also Samsung's mobile division hasn't been doing as well lately either.
Leaving the PC market completely won't automatically strengthen the company's other divisions. If anything, it could weaken the Korean company's brand reputation, as the news could trigger loss of trust in consumers who may think "Samsung is losing its grip on the market", while at the same time, giving its rivals, such as Apple, a competitive advantage in its Mac PC and laptop division and thus making the US firm a stronger company overall. Afterall, Apple's Mac sales are growing while PC sales keep shrinking.
Nevertheless, perhaps the decision to leave the clamshell-making market altogether is just a sign of the way the industry is going, and before long, all traditional PC companies will leave the PC and laptop industry to focus on touchscreen devices: phones, tablets, bigger tablets with optional keyboard docks, and even bigger tablets with stands and keyboards.
And what would this mean for Windows? Well, probably not good news - that is a certainty - as we all know Redmond isn't the best when it comes to touchscreens.
Samsung's departure might not have come as a huge shock, but it could be a sign of something much, much bigger - the death of Windows as a consumer platform and the rise of more mobile-friendly operating systems, such as Android, or Apple's Mac OS X, which continues to keep the computer market sweet with more attractive designs and reliable, security strong software that customers are putting increasingly more trust into. µ
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