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Report shows that sales of PC devices at lowest point since 2011; tablet shipments fall off a cliff

By midian182 · 17 replies
May 10, 2016
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  1. Following last month’s reports from analyst firms IDC and Gartner that showed computer sales have declined dramatically, there’s now more bad news for the PC industry. Market research company Canalys revealed yesterday that shipments of PC devices are at their lowest point since the second quarter of 2011.

    The new report shows that overall PC sales from January to March 2016 - including desktops, notebooks, two-in-ones, and tables – declined to 101 million units, a 13 percent drop compared to the same period last year.

    Despite its shipments falling by 17 percent, Apple continues to lead the market. But the Cupertino company is only marginally ahead of Lenovo, which shipped just 25,000 units less than Apple as the Chinese firm’s decline moved into double digits following weak sales in its home country.

    HP, Dell, and Samsung, which made up the rest of the top five vendors, also saw their shipments fall.

    Out of all the devices, it was tablets that took the biggest hit, declining for the sixth consecutive quarter. There were just under 39 million of the devices shipped in Q1, a decline of around 15 percent compared to Q1 2015. There was, however, some good news for hybrids, as the two-in-one market grew by almost 13 percent.

    Canalys senior analyst Tim Coulling painted a grim picture of the PC market’s future. “The global PC market had a bad start to 2016, and it is difficult to see any bright spots for vendors in the coming quarters,” he said.

    “The tablet boom has faded in the distance, and the market is fully mature. Global shipment declines are expected to continue unless vendors bring transformational innovation to the market. The number of people looking to buy their first PC is at an all-time low, and 2016 is likely to bring yet more turmoil to global PC vendors.”

    While recent reports do suggest that Windows 10 and Skylake haven’t resulted in a load of people rushing out to buy new PCs, there are reasons to be optimistic about the future. In contrast to Coulling’s words, IDC’s Linn Haung said that “the PC market should experience a modest rebound in the coming months.” Plus, with the inevitable slew of pre-built VR-ready gaming PCs arriving later this year containing new Pascal and Polaris GPUs from Nvidia and AMD, respectively, it’s a bit premature to declare that the PC is dead.

    Image credit: Who is Danny on Shutterstock

    Permalink to story.

    Last edited by a moderator: May 10, 2016
  2. Fobus

    Fobus TS Enthusiast Posts: 54   +26

    I wonder how custom built computers figure in all of this. Wasn't this segment of market showing healthy increase?
  3. Agnomen

    Agnomen TS Enthusiast

    I'm pretty sure the custom built (gaming-oriented specifically) has been the one exception to this decline. While the CPU upgrade cycle has been lackluster, the drive for better video cards to push higher resolutions and quality settings keeps the market from stagnating too hard. Moving forward it looks like VR will help with that as well.
    Daniel Morelli and alabama man like this.
  4. NnethKe

    NnethKe TS Rookie

    I've always said nothing can beat a custom PC, and there's where the industry has high hopes to keep them shipping new products.
    Daniel Morelli likes this.
  5. alabama man

    alabama man TS Maniac Posts: 317   +185

    That's just logical, every grandma and child has their crappy laptop and phone and there really haven't been a reason for upgrade if you just browse internet or use common apps. It's just another case of some mad american believing that any industry can grow 1000% every year for ever and then complaining after the market is satisfied with what they have. Maybe they will now stop making new phones every 3 months and actually make some changes to products between models.
    Daniel Morelli and Duckeenie like this.
  6. Tanstar

    Tanstar TS Evangelist Posts: 581   +159

    This is also the problem for tablets. If it can already play video, surf the web and play app games, why upgrade? As for the drop in table sales the article mentions, that's a real head scratcher.
  7. BadThad

    BadThad TS Booster Posts: 111   +62

    It's easy to see why this is! PC's have become more powerful than most users need (outside of gaming) and high-end work. The bulk of PC sales are to people who surf the web and do minor stuff with it, rarely taxing the subsystems. Then you also have to consider how component quality has improved, especially with respect to capacitors, which were the bane of computing for years. If an older PC is running fine and doing what a user needs, there is no compelling reason to buy a new one. Also, with the introduction of mainstream, inexpensive SSD's, performance is almost instant for most people, even on a 5 year old machine.

    Tablets are in a similar boat. If you have a decent, well-built, older tablet that does what you need it to do, they why upgrade? My tablet is about 4 years old now and it still kicks a$$ for what it used for.
  8. MilwaukeeMike

    MilwaukeeMike TS Evangelist Posts: 2,837   +1,180

    The PC/tablet market will NEVER die. Sure, it might decline for a few years, but for some reason when people talk about the PC market now one ever mentions businesses. Every desk in this country has a PC or laptop on it today, and in the future those may be Surface tablets (sorry, Apple/Android, we need our Excel), but we'll always something that runs our office and business software.

    Maybe someday our phones will be so powerful that they can be attached to a docking station with a keyboard/mouse and perform like a PC, but there's really no need for that much portability.
  9. alexnode

    alexnode TS Enthusiast Posts: 34   +12

    I haven't bought a prefabricated machine for at least 8 years now, they are a rip off. And I spend a lot of money per year in hardware. I wonder how companies like ASUS, MSI, EVGA and Corsair are doing. I have built more than 20 machines myself for the family and my office. Hi-end most of them.
  10. alexnode

    alexnode TS Enthusiast Posts: 34   +12

    I don't know there are quite a lot of developments that will require new hardware. When a new pci-e for GPUs is on the market everybody will upgrade eventually, we can see new SSD technology that is not working with old motherboards , There is also VR and some 'AI' applications that would require a lot of juice. If you are in 3D /cad Design or 4K +video editing you need to upgrade all the time. Science number crunching too.
    Tablets are different They could definitely replace pc's for excel and word etc even for graphic design .
  11. Fobus

    Fobus TS Enthusiast Posts: 54   +26

    And that's my point. Mine is self built too. Some parts reused, some new. This statistic either doesn't include custom built machines or don't break it apart as a category. So how PC devices is really doing is skewed.

    Although, here too been some stagnation, with graphics cards, SSDs and monitors being the exception?
  12. seglertx

    seglertx TS Rookie

    Hasn't there been a Mac version of Microsoft Office since the mid 90's. MS came out with a mobile version of office for Android and iOS tablets and phones about three years ago. I don't use it that often because I want a larger screen when looking at a spreadsheet. I've been able to dock my Android phones and tablets for years using the micro HDMI connector to connect to a 1080 monitor and use a full sized Bluetooth keyboard with touchpad or mouse but it's just easier to use my desktop since everything's already connected. What OS you're running really doesn't matter anymore because MS Office has gone web based just like Google did with Google Apps years ago. You just open a browser now to access it.
  13. Those numbers seem to be dropping at about the same rate that the prices were rising.

    Last year I replaced a CAD workstation and two HTPCs at home. The last time I upgraded my systems before that was over 5 years ago. This time I bought a refurb W/S and new Intel NUC and Gigabyte BRIX units for HTPCs.

    With the new Android "material design" and Windows both going back to the style from the 90's I don't need to have a powerful tablet or PC to work. But Win10 started failing and giving me random vibrating BSOD's more than I ever got with Win7.

    So, no - I don't see a need for anything new beyond an SSD for my W/S.

    I went back to Android Lollipop because the battery life was a lot better on my tablets and phone, and am using Win 7 on the PC.
    Maybe it has a lot to do with the "advancements" in the OS's for each environment. It doesn't seem like it's going forward to me. I tried the "upgrade" and found them all lacking. I'm probably not alone.
    Phr3d likes this.
  14. bobc4012

    bobc4012 TS Enthusiast Posts: 74   +34

    It may be a decent market comparatively speaking, but business, government and the typical user buy the "manufactured" made PCs. That is the bulk of the market. Also, with the advent of tablets and smart phones, most users are finding out they don't need Windows. While Microsoft Office will still be used in the ""office", people are doing fine without it on the tablets/smart phones. As for plugging the tablet into a monitor, keyboard and mouse, one might as well use a laptop and it would cost out cheaper (as well as a desktop). And then there is the "Cloud" and Google Docs - both will improve over time and offer alternatives.
  15. lazer

    lazer TS Enthusiast Posts: 94   +24

    Myself, together with most of the people I know, have what is sufficient to do what we need and don't feel like investing more cash to get little advantage back.

    So I will keep my smartphone, tablet, laptop and desktop and not buy another since they are very capable of doing what I need to do.
  16. NahNood

    NahNood TS Enthusiast Posts: 49   +14

    While there is the decline of pre built computers, I would say there is certainly a rise in the computer parts industry meaning self built and custom built, simply because it's much less expensive (well at least for self built). I would say this is especially attributed to the gaming community, who like to built machine better than the console offerings.
    Daniel Morelli likes this.
  17. Fobus

    Fobus TS Enthusiast Posts: 54   +26

    I know, but would be nice to see statistics include this sector.
  18. Daniel Morelli

    Daniel Morelli TS Enthusiast Posts: 48

    Don't think you should be including table sales in overall PC sales but maybe it's just me.

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