Something new is coming to the PC industry: Growth

But growth will be slow and only affect thin and light devices

There's something new coming in the PC market: growth! Sales volumes have hit bottom, and will start to pick up from next year, say analysts at Gartner.

Growth won't be fast -- just 0.4 percent next year, and perhaps 3 percent the year after -- but it will mark a change from the 8 percent drop in unit sales Gartner is forecasting for this year.

Sales of basic laptops and desktops will continue to shrink, from 216 million this year to 199 million in 2018, said Gartner research director Ranjit Atwal: The growth -- from 49 million this year to 75 million in 2018 -- will all be in the expensive premium ultramobiles category. That's good news for vendors' bottom lines, if not for IT budgets.

In 2020, he forecasts, fewer than 30 million desktops will be sold: About one for every 100 internet users on the planet, in case you were in any doubt that this is an increasingly mobile world.

Gartner defines premium ultramobiles as thin and light laptops -- a category defined by the MacBook Air -- or hybrid devices like the Surface Pro (tablets with removable keyboards). They typically run Windows or MacOS on an Intel processor and are capable of replacing a standard PC.

Even Apple's new iPad Pro gets relegated, with the rest of the tablets, to what Gartner calls basic (branded) or utility (white label) ultramobiles. That market is declining faster even than PC sales -- down 10 percent since last year -- although Gartner expects it to stabilize at around 173 million in 2017 and 2018.

The iPad Pro is not managing to break through in the business environment, Atwal said. "Users still want higher-performing Windows-based devices." Despite its large screen and stylus, the iPad Pro "is still more of a content consumption device," he added.

And business users' needs are what matter: The consumer market for laptops is still in decline, he said, which is bad news for the PC makers like Asustek Computer (Asus) that do most of their business there.

Asus isn't the only one suffering, though: NEC sold almost all of its PC activities in July to Lenovo, which is now considering buying the PC business of another Japanese company, Fujitsu.

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags PC

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Peter Sayer

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Crucial Ballistix Elite 32GB Kit (4 x 8GB) DDR4-3000 UDIMM

Learn more >

Gadgets & Things

Lexar® Professional 1000x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards

Learn more >

Family Friendly

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Plox Star Wars Death Star Levitating Bluetooth Speaker

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

GGG Evaluation Team

Kathy Cassidy

STYLISTIC Q702

First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni

STYLISTIC Q572

For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Steph Mundell

LIFEBOOK UH574

The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.

Andrew Mitsi

STYLISTIC Q702

The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.

Simon Harriott

STYLISTIC Q702

My first impression after unboxing the Q702 is that it is a nice looking unit. Styling is somewhat minimalist but very effective. The tablet part, once detached, has a nice weight, and no buttons or switches are located in awkward or intrusive positions.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?