Traditional personal computer sales have been on a roll the past few years. Rolling downhill as people move more computing tasks over to mobile devices like smartphones and tablets. What about the Mac?
Apple’s once flagship product endured the downward spiral a few years longer than the likes of Dell, HP, Lenovo and their ilk, but even Mac sales have slowly eroded from fiscal quarters which saw record sales units. Despite the obvious and ongoing trend toward PC sales doing down, some think the bottom is near and it’s time for a bounce.
Mobile vs. Traditional
The effect of the mobile revolution epitomized by iPhone and iPad on traditional personal computing cannot be understated. Devastating would be a proper word, even as PC sales bottom out and the industry prepares for a dead cat bounce of sorts.
Those who dream dreams and pull projections out of places where only proctologists prefer to go think the end is near. No, not the end of the PC, but the end of the sales drop. Thanks to ultra mobile PCs– think MacBook Air, Chromebooks, Microsoft Surface devices– 2017 will be about the same, sales wise, as last year, but 2018 will see an increase. Minuscule, but an increase.
Shipments of traditional desktop PCs and notebooks continue to drop, and while demand for new form factors like Microsoft’s Surface and premium models like the MacBook Air continues to grow, this won’t offset the decline in standard PCs until at least next year.
It’s always next year.
Why? Is it because the Microsoft Surface Studio is such a hit among creatives? Nope. Is it because the Microsoft Surface Book is a better value than a MacBook Pro? Nope. Is it because the ultra book segment of the market is so hot? Nope. Is it because new advancements in personal computers will storm the industry? Nope.
Why, then? Why?
Things wear out and need to be replaced. That’s basically it. PC sales have long been cyclical, and we see some of the same cycles and sales trends among smartphone and tablet sales. In essence, what goes up in sales, must get old, sales come down, then go up again.
There’s no PC revolution in sight. It’s good old math applied to the fact that things wear out and need to be replaced. What’s happening though is more subtle. Ranjit Atwal of Gartner:
The PC market has been on a downward trend for five years and we’ve lost around 25 percent of the market over that time. It’s starting to hit bottom and we expect that to steady moving forward as businesses, rather than consumers start to refresh their PCs.
See? Refresh. Replacements. And a notable shift from traditional desktop and notebook PCs to more premium ultrabooks, or ultra mobile PCs, thanks to a trend started by Microsoft a few years ago. Touchscreen notebooks. This a trend that might have legs because computer users just don’t have the intestinal fortitude, the financial fortitude, or the time to manage so many devices– smartphones, tablets, desktop PCs, notebook PCs– and the hybrids which function as both a cheap notebook and a clumsy tablet are growing in number.
Gartner’s estimates, and those of others who follow the industry close enough not to be able to see the forest for the trees, hence constantly inaccurate predictions, says this guesstimate points to 2018 as the year of positive change. That’s convenient. Because two years from now who will remember what Gartner predicted two years earlier.
You remember what Gartner predicted about the technology industry at the start of 2015, right?