THE DEATH OF THE PC has been banded around for ages, but with analyst house IDC noting that shipments dropped below 100 million in 2017, the end could actually be nigh.
In IDC's excitingly-named Worldwide Quarterly Personal Computing Device Tracker for 2017, the firm counted up all the shipments of PCs and tablets over the course of last year and noted that only 97.8 million desktops were flogged for the entire 12 months. Comparatively, 161.6 million laptops, including mobile workstations, where shipped throughout the year.
So desktops are losing out to their mobile brethren. And with 'slate tablet' sales at 141.8 million and 2-in-1 'detachable' tablet sales on the rise at 21.9 million shipments, desktop machines also face market share threats from fondleslabs.
IDC reckons things are set to get worse as well, and is predicting that desktop shipments will slump to 86 million by 2022, with a 2.5 per cent decline in market share. At the same time, laptop and detachable tablet sales will rise by 0.1 and 9.6 per cent, respectively.
Slate tablets shipments are predicted to decline by 6.2 per cent, though that's likely due the rise of hybrid devices and the fact that iPads tend to last a good while with each generation not offering enough over its predecessors to prompt a widespread upgrade.
The decline of desktop PC sales is down to a lacklustre demand for their form factors outside the realm of commercial machines and gaming towers, as well as a shortage of components - see the trend of graphics cards being snaffled by cryptocurrency miners as one such example.
Overall shipments of 'personal computing devices' (PCD) declined by 1.8 per cent, so it's no real surprise that desktop PCs are struggling.
But IDC's Tom Mainelli, program vice president of the analyst house's Devices and AR/VR division, noted that it's not all doom and gloom.
"As the broader PCD market continues to evolve, challenges remain but there are plenty of positive signs, too," said Mainelli.
"New form factors such as convertibles and detachables continue to show long-term growth opportunities in both consumer and commercial markets. Chromebooks remain a bright spot with an increasing number of consumers embracing the platform. And the gaming category continues to grow, driving both positive volumes and ASP trends."
Really, it's the same old story; large amounts of people don't want desktop PCs when laptops offer everything they need in a portable package, but there's scope for new form factor devices and niche products to grow.
And, while the death of the PC may be drawn out, we reckon it'll be some time yet before desktop machines are consigned to the boneyard. µ
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