Gartner: There's still life in the PC

Sales might be dropping but there are still opportunities in the PC market according to Gartner


It is always tempting to label a technology as 'dead' to encourage resellers and customers to move on and invest their IT budgets elsewhere.

But sometimes there is still life in the kit that is being consigned to the dustbin and according to Gartner that is very much the case with the PC.

The obituaries have been written several times in the last couple of years for the PC and no one can deny that quarterly growth rates in Q1 this year were some of the lwest ever.

The competition from tablets and smart phones has taken a chunk out of the PC market and there has been a contraction in both unit shipments and revenues that have hit those vendors producing some of the desktop and laptops.

"Between them, Acer, Fujitsu, Samsung, Sony and Toshiba have lost 10.5 percent market share since 2011. In the first quarter of 2016, Dell, HP Inc. and Lenovo gained market share but recorded year-over-year declines," said Meike Escherich, principal research analyst at Gartner.

Although the UK remains in the top five markets globally the number of PCs per household has been dropping and on the business front the Windows 10 effect seems to be taking a while to kick in.

However, Gartner is keen to stress that there continue to be opportunities for the PC and the channel should not turn its back on the technology.

"PCs are still able to deliver in areas that smartphones and tablets cannot, with larger screens, ergonomic keyboards, greater storage and more powerful computer processors," said Tracy Tsai, research vice president at Gartner. "With an oversaturated market and falling average selling prices (ASPs), PC vendors must focus on optimizing profitability to sustain growth."

The areas where the analyst house is still expecting growth is in the ultra mobile segment, which should deliver revenue growth this year with a 16% improvement on 2015.

"The ultramobile premium market is also more profitable in comparison with the low-end segment, where PCs priced at $500 or less have 5 percent gross margins," added Tsai. "The gross margin can reach up to 25 per cent for high-end ultramobile premium PCs priced at $1,000 or more."

The other areas include getting involved in the small but profitable gaming PC market and using the internet of things to improve the service levels to desktop and laptop owners with service alerts being sent before components fail.

On the theme of old technology living on, business comms specialist Fuze has found that for almost a third of European firms the fax continues to be seen as essential.

A third of office workers in the UK viewed the fax as a key part of the office equipment, although that dropped significantly when the question was posed to 15 to 18 year olds.

“It’s astonishing to see just how many businesses still rely on outdated technologies like the fax machine. As the new generation of employees starts to enter the workforce, businesses need to understand that offering the latest communications technology is more than an IT issue, it’s a recruitment issue," said Luca Lazzaron, senior vp of International Operations at Fuze.

“According to our research, 85% of UK teens expect to use the very latest technologies at work. Arriving at an office that asks them to learn how to use a fax machine could – quite rightly – make them look elsewhere. The Fax Generation has clearly given way to App Generation. Now all businesses and IT departments need to do is catch up," he added.

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I saw a coworker here using a screwdriver to pound a nail into the wall. I handed him a hammer and explained that he was using the wrong tool for the job. He told me where I could put my hammer, then hung his picture and stepped back to admire his handiwork. 

We use the tools at hand. We push and squeeze to get the most of the tools we know and love and use. I like my laptop; couldn't live without it. I also have a tablet. And a very smart smartphone. Of course sale numbers shift up and down but that's hardly cause for panic. The market changes. Some folks still make a decent living selling buggy whips. 
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