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Businesses HP Apple Hardware

PC Market Still Showing Few Signs of Life (axios.com) 217

An anonymous reader writes: It was another rough quarter for the global PC market, as fourth quarter unit sales dropped 2%, according to preliminary results from Gartner. In the U.S. things were even bleaker, with sales down 8%. HP was the only big name maker to post a sales increase in the U.S. and globally. It also passed Lenovo to grab the top spot globally and increased its lead in the U.S. over Dell. Apple saw Mac sales globally up 1.4%, but in the U.S. sales were down 1.6%. Dell gained less than 1% globally but fell more than 12% in the U.S. Lenovo sales dipped slightly globally, but its market share increased slightly, to 22% of the worldwide market.

PC Market Still Showing Few Signs of Life

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  • by jbmartin6 ( 1232050 ) on Friday January 12, 2018 @03:05PM (#55917033)
    PCs have mostly hit the 'good enough' point, there is no value in replacing them as frequently as in the past.
    • by atrex ( 4811433 )
      Just like cars. Doesn't stop the industry execs from wanting people to buy new ones every two years though.
    • by sdinfoserv ( 1793266 ) on Friday January 12, 2018 @03:15PM (#55917119) Homepage
      In the corporate office we have PC's on 5 year replacement cycles. Try telling your CAD operator he has to use ipad... ya, then tell me again "THE PC IS DEAD"... for thousandth time since 2005...
      • The power users will still remain with PC. I donâ(TM)t think that is going to change. But for most people, an iPad is just more than enough for their eveday tasks.

        • One thing Apple have got going for them is that if I buy a Mac I can use XCode to build code for iOS devices. And I can build for Android devices. And I can run Visual Studio in Parallels Desktop to build code for Windows. Or I can run a Linux distribution in Parallels. And a lot of stuff that builds for Linux and BSD will build for macOS too - Homebrew probably already has a port.

          If I have a Windows machines I can build for Windows and Android.

          And if I have a Linux machine I can build for Linux and Android

          • How do you deal with the lack of function keys and the shitty keyboard on the macbook pros?

            • I remember shitty laptop keyboards. I remember ones with so little travel that your fingers hurt after 20 minutes of typing. I remember ones with a spring right in the middle and a really crappy mechanism so if you hit them slightly off centre they'd bend and not register a key press.

              I haven't seen a shitty keyboard on any laptop for about 10 years. There are a few really nice ones but most, including the Macs, have been good enough for a long time.

              I haven't used a Mac with the OLED bar, but some o

          • The only reason why you need a Mac of iOS is license restrictions. There is no technical reason why a Windows box could not compile an iOS app.
        • An iPad is clearly more than sufficient to keep inserting "Ã(TM)" every few words, but not much use for even simple talks like posting on /.

          - so not much use at all!

        • by sdinfoserv ( 1793266 ) on Friday January 12, 2018 @04:29PM (#55917795) Homepage
          Here's what I find to be the practical demarcation:
          Consumers - those who consume tech services; read email, surf/browse, watch video, have a specialized app.... etc. work just fine on a tablet.
          Producers - programmers, CAD operators, AV content creators, critical office document users (word/excel/powerpoint), use PC's/MAC's/laptops.
          Security - need secure environments controlled by active directory and group policies. BYOD not acceptable. Governments, security organizations -all use PC's.
          Sure there are "inbetweens" like a writer who can get by with a tablet, but that's infrequent.

          The IPAD has been out almost 8 years. That's a life time in tech and they just a fraction of the corporate work space - like 3%. And Yes, a ton of tablets have been sold, but sales are slowing as saturation is close.
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by gravewax ( 4772409 )
          which is why iPad sales are down far greater than the PC market? the bullshit that an Ipad is good enough for even most home users is exactly that..bullshit. very few want to interact with a ipad or similar tablet as their way to access the internet, it is a fucking awful experience. My mother loves her iPad for games, crosswords etc but she will get up and walk to her PC to use the internet or mail before using that thing to try to do anything even remotely productive.
      • by prefec2 ( 875483 )

        If you replace your machines every 5 years, there will be zero growth in sales, as you are just replacing each machine with a new one for most likely a similar price. Growth would be if you would buy more machines every 5 years. For example, if you buy 10 computers this year and then 11 computers in five years then you have an increase in sales of 10%. A saturated market is not dead. For that global sales would need to retract every year (which is not the case). It is going sideways. In an growth oriented e

        • the negative growth is the increased gap between purchases, previously people were buying every 6-12 months, then it was every 2 years, then 3 to 4 years, now it is every 5 years or more. The simple maths on that will show a massive reduction in sales even with a growth of users.
      • There are not enough CAD operators to sustain the entire PC market.
    • PCs have migrated to your pocket as a Cell Phone with all sorts of advanced technology. Not corporate work, but average daily work for most average people.

      • Nope! My phone's fine for watching cat videos, but for anything serious, and a lot that isn't, I use my laptop. And my tablet is basically an oversize phone that can't make calls.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 12, 2018 @03:41PM (#55917343)

      Is this unexpected? ... PCs have mostly hit the 'good enough' point, there is no value in replacing them as frequently as in the past.

      This is unexpected to morons -- you know, CEOs and the entire stock market. Apparently this fact has caught them all by surprise.

      Somewhere in the last few years the irrational notion that every company needs to sell 10% more than it did last year, or it's back-sliding. Or your stock needs to grow by 10% or you've "missed your targets".

      This, of course, is mathematically impossible and delusional, and has nothing at all to do with reality. But this is how the collectively stupid market behaves these days .. by making irrational assumptions weighed against impossible expectations.

      So, yes, for all of these consumer things .. TVs, phones, computers, cars .. there comes a point where a rational consumer says "what I have is just fine, works, and meets all of my needs". The new features and gimmicks aren't compelling, and people simply don't have the money or desire to replace everything they own every year or so.

      But that doesn't satisfy the irrational 'market', and unfortunately as reality asserts itself, companies, stock holders, and the 'market' are all panicking. They're in full blown zomg teh company didn't grow teh skis is teh falling. This despite people saying for over a decade this is simply not possible.

      For example, nobody really wanted 4K TV .. sure, it's the next geometric evolution, but nobody needs it. Those 8K TVs which came out? Doomed from the fucking start because nobody cares. Someone is busily making 16K TVs, and still, nobody will care.

      They want to reinvent the hype of the HD transition, but people aren't interested in shelling out the money or replacing their entire TV infrastructure on a timeline which suits the manufacturers.

      This is the PC market suddenly shitting their pants .. not because they've had an especially bad year, but because people have said "what do I need a faster PC for?"

      The entire stock market has become infected with this bit of crazy, which tells me that collectively Wall Street are greedy, and stupid, and likely delusional if they have believed you can sustain a 10% growth forever. It's simply not possible, and consumers don't have that kind of money.

      Let the 1% buy more shit with their fucking tax breaks to prop up shareholder value. The rest of us are tired of being treated as cattle who are expected to buy shit to pad out the bottom line.

      • The entire stock market has become infected with this bit of crazy, which tells me that collectively Wall Street are greedy, and stupid, and likely delusional if they have believed you can sustain a 10% growth forever. It's simply not possible, and consumers don't have that kind of money.

        There's a good reason why Dell was taken private again. There's an ongoing need for desktops, laptops, and servers, which yes, is getting smaller, but it's not actually gone yet, but the stock market would have beaten up Dell's stock tremendously over that 12% reduction in sales.

      • people have said "what do I need a faster PC for?"

        To compensate for the Meltdown and Spectre mitigations.

    • The internet is facebook and the local news station to most people. The normies do not need any power.

    • There are also now alternatives to people who don't really even need a PC. Which is a lot more people than most of us would like to admit. And unfortunately, that means the PC market is shrinking and our prices are going to go up.

    • Unless you're doing gaming or some serious design work, even a PC from 10+ years ago is still good enough. I'm still using my Core i7 920 based PC that I built 8 years ago as my main PC (Linux/Win 10 dual boot). The only things I've added were more memory (bumped it up to 12GB from 6GB) and a SSHD because they were cheap and added some decent speed up. I'll probably continue using it until it dies as I haven't seen any reason to upgrade. Hell, I finally just got my wife to replace her ancient HP Celero
    • PCs have mostly hit the 'good enough' point, there is no value in replacing them as frequently as in the past.

      It's true. At the moment, I'm using my ThinkPad W500 from 2009 and all I did to it was upgrade to 8GB RAM and a 480GB SSD.

      My desktop machine has the same Core i7-940 CPU as it had in 2009. Granted, I overclocked the RAM by 50% and overclocked the CPU by 30%.

      All I've done to it since is upgrade the 2009 Radeon HD 5870 GPU to a GTX 1080 Founder's Edition and add a pair of 960GB SSDs in RAID0.

      I won't need a new one until it croaks. And that won't be anytime soon because liquid cooling.

    • by ilsaloving ( 1534307 ) on Friday January 12, 2018 @05:50PM (#55918365)

      I think it's worse than it ought to be, and Microsoft is to blame.

      Generally, people have only really upgraded their machines when they needed to. Why replace what isn't broken?

      But thanks to Microsoft screwing the pooch on every single version of Windows after Windows 7, people are now actively averse to upgrading, because they will be forced to use whatever shit-tastic Windows Microsoft forces upon people.

      Needlessly modified UIs, OS-level spyware, updates that you cannot stop and have better than even odds of hosing your computer. IMO Microsoft is directly responsible for the collapse of the PC market.

      You'll notice that Apple is basically stable. And that's despite their bad press and questionable hardware design choices.

      If I had to buy a new machine right now, I would get Mac. As much as Apple pisses me off, I can at least mitigate their poor design choices with a couple of additional purchases. A frustrating hit to the pocketbook, sure. But a consumer has NO way to mitigate what Microsoft is doing without permanently disconnecting your computer from the network, so you pay for that lower price tag by needing to be eternally vigilant and having to constantly worry about whether you computer will still boot the next time you turn it on, through no fault of your own.

    • Also, casual users are satisfied with browsing the internet using their smartphone and playing games on a console, and therefore don't need a traditional computer. Desktops and laptops are now for work and hardcore gaming.
    • And virtualization has become a commodity even in the home. You can get decent used VMWare servers for a few hundred bucks, add a regular desktop setup with big disks running FreeNAS, an inexpensive 10G networking setup, and you got enough resources to serve the family. Keep a decent gaming PC around and the rest is inexpensive Raspberry Pis that are good enough for casual stuff and can remote into a beefy VM any time. Plus...more and more stuff moves to tablets and phones, the need to have an array of PCs
  • by Hadlock ( 143607 ) on Friday January 12, 2018 @03:16PM (#55917133) Homepage Journal

    Growing up in high school in the late 90s/early 2000s I was one of "those guys" (if you're reading this, likely you were too) with several used PCs living in their bedroom running various hobbyist tasks, sometimes tinkering with linux etc.
     
    Then in the 2010s I was down to a single "vm lab" server and desktop for games, plus a single laptop for travel. As time has gone on, priorities have changed, I use my laptop more and my desktop is somewhere under a heap of old things in a storage unit an hour from my home. The laptop is my primary machine.
     
    With the advent of Thunderbolt 3 you can finally get enough bits across to outsource your GPU to a box on your desk, and Lenovo's selling a "graphics dock" with a midrange GTX 1050 for $400 not much larger than an Apple TV or VHS cassette tape.
     
    My last "new" computer was a 2012 era Thinkpad x230, and I'll probably be upgrading to the x280 pr T480 when it comes out in a month or so, and also a graphics dock. Then when I need to upgrade the graphics, just plug in a new TB3 graphics dock/eGPU. My i5 from 2012 is still plenty fast, the only shortcoming is that it can address a max of 16GB memory and moderately weak graphics (although I did play Skyrim on it over Christmas for 40+ hours without an issue). I also upgraded the drive from magnetic to SSD for maybe $100 and replaced the battery for $50.
     
    If power users can hold on to their laptops for five years, I can only imagine how long the average user keeps their computer these days. Being able to extend the graphics on a laptop indefinitely is going to extend the life of the device quite a bit.

    • I have had the same system for 15 years now.
      (Theseus's paradox)
    • A VHS cassette table is a lot bigger then an Apple TV. My 5 year old MacMini is about the size of an VHS cassette tape.

    • Growing up in high school in the late 90s/early 2000s I was one of "those guys" (if you're reading this, likely you were too) with several used PCs living in their bedroom running various hobbyist tasks, sometimes tinkering with linux etc.

      I have a picture somewhere that my mom took of me crashed out on my bed in 1997 while Windows 95 was installing on one of my 486 machines. At the time, I had something like five machines in my room. The main one handled almost everything. The secondary one was almost exclusively for Autodesk Animator Pro. One was a Windows NT 4.0 machine. Another was a Novell Netware server I was messing with. The fifth machine was mostly just for data recovery because of the time required. I didn't mess with Linux until 19

    • a 1050 is going for $200. A 1060 6gb for $500. To put that in context, I bought my bro a 1060 6gb for $230 on sale about 2 years ago. Until the crypto currency boom ends I think the high price of video cards will scare off new gamers unless they're really, really hardcore.
      • a 1050 is going for $200. A 1060 6gb for $500. To put that in context, I bought my bro a 1060 6gb for $230 on sale about 2 years ago. Until the crypto currency boom ends I think the high price of video cards will scare off new gamers unless they're really, really hardcore.

        Where are you doing your shopping at? YOu should be able to get a 1080 GTX TI for $500.

        • a 1050 is going for $200. A 1060 6gb for $500. To put that in context, I bought my bro a 1060 6gb for $230 on sale about 2 years ago. Until the crypto currency boom ends I think the high price of video cards will scare off new gamers unless they're really, really hardcore.

          Where are you doing your shopping at? YOu should be able to get a 1080 GTX TI for $500.

          Sorry, no, that's the regular 1080 GTX, not the TI. The TI will run you an extra $100-200

    • Being knowledgeable about computers does not automatically make you a "power user" same as being a mechanic doesn't automatically make you a drag-strip racer and playing Skyrim over Christmas most definitely doesn't make you a gamer.

      Seriously thou, I can't fathom why anyone not living in a shoebox in NY or SF would not prefer to use a desktop with a big screen(s), comfortable keyboard and plenty of power at least some of the time?. Especially a "power user"

    • Growing up in high school in the late 90s/early 2000s I was one of "those guys" (if you're reading this, likely you were too) with several used PCs living in their bedroom running various hobbyist tasks, sometimes tinkering with linux etc. Then in the 2010s I was down to a single "vm lab" server and desktop for games, plus a single laptop for travel. As time has gone on, priorities have changed, I use my laptop more and my desktop is somewhere under a heap of old things in a storage unit an hour from my home. The laptop is my primary machine.

      I travel frequently and do not trust hotel WiFi. I actually have an extra machine that i keep running 24/7. It's a low TDP fanless Xeon (ivy bridge) machine that runs VMs. Averages less than 10W of power consumption but can go as high as 35W. Allows me to VPN onto my home network and, if necessary, also provides a RDP option. It runs two host OSes at all times. I also have a desktop for transcoding video and playing games that rarely gets used. Laptop is the primary machine that I use as well. But w

    • I'll probably be upgrading to the x280

      The X280? No self-respecting X230 user would even look at the X280, let alone buy it. The X280 has soldered RAM, sealed battery, no ethernet port, and can't be expanded with a 2.5" SDD or HDD. Even beyond all these, it's much harder to service than all the previous X2** laptops. It's a fucking dumpster fire shit-on-a-stick excuse for a ThinkPad.

  • GPU shortage (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Tailhook ( 98486 ) on Friday January 12, 2018 @03:25PM (#55917225)

    Those who build "desktop" machines for gaming are in a bad place right now; mining has doubled the price of new GPUs; a GTX 1070 is ~$900+ right now anywhere that actually has them in stock. You can sell a used 970 for more than you paid new. Then you have GPU manufacturers sending a huge chunk of their foundry capacity to big ML cloud operators. The key piece of hardware for Desktop machines, a GPU, has become a costly and difficult to obtain part.

    • a GTX 1070 is ~$900+ right now anywhere that actually has them in stock.

      Oh wow I really snatched a deal when I bought one for 399 euros on black friday last month.

    • production, because everybody's expecting the crypto currency bubble to burst and they're afraid of getting stuck with a mountain of unsold inventory.
    • by Kjella ( 173770 )

      Not just the GPU.... SSD prices have been flat for like ~2 years. RAM prices are actually way up. I think for the first time in history you don't get a significantly better PC by waiting. It's not like last year's Ferrari is this year's BMW and next year's Kia anymore. I have a GTX 1080 TI, bought at roughly MSRP at launch because apparently it wasn't a very good mining card and for some reason the most expensive card I've ever bought is the one to stay the best in value. I'm just really sad that I didn't t

      • SSD prices have been flat for like ~2 years

        Except for the part where they are literally about 40% cheaper now than they were 2 years ago. Oh don't get me wrong you can still happily find 128GB drives for the same price as 2 years ago, but then you're looking at about double the performance. But let me guess you don't want to compare model for model.

        RAM prices fluctuate with smartphone manufacturing and release dates. Right now they are higher than they were 6 months ago when I bought 32GB, 6 months before that they were up again.

        As for GPU prices y

  • by MpVpRb ( 1423381 ) on Friday January 12, 2018 @03:38PM (#55917315)

    ...and it still works fine

    I did upgrade some stuff, like switching to an SSD, but for the stuff I do, performance is fine

    The main reason I don't upgrade more often isn't price, it's pain

    With restrictive licenses, activation, patches, drivers..etc, it's a MASSIVE PAIN IN THE ASS to upgrade. If I could just pop the hard drive in a new box and have everything adjust itself automagically, I would love to have the latest and greatest, even if I don't really need it

    • Like your experience, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it," applies more than ever.

      I'm not the hardware enthusiast or early adopter I was 20 years ago. I finally just upgraded my custom built, 6-year-old desktop's primary hard drive to a Samsung 256GB SSD (kept the other HDDs for storage) and swapped out the 32-bit OS for its 64-bit version (in order to increase the Kingston RAM to 12GB).

      Nothing else in the rig needs an upgrade. The on-board network, sound, and video hardware on the motherboard are holding up

    • by dargaud ( 518470 )

      If I could just pop the hard drive in a new box and have everything adjust itself automagically, I would love to have the latest and greatest, even if I don't really need it

      This is exactly how it works in Linux. I have some systems where I did this cycle a few times: update everything but the HD+OS (painless), update the HD copying the OS to new one (somewhat tricky), update the OS (painless).

  • Between insane DDR4 price fixing and the GPU market having dried completely up to insane gouge levels... yeah. fuck buying a PC right now.
  • New Laptop on Hold (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Hrrrg ( 565259 ) on Friday January 12, 2018 @04:19PM (#55917695)

    I was planning to upgrade my laptop. But now with the Meltdown and Spectre issues? No thanks - I can wait a couple of years for them to design new chips.

  • The summary suggests the sales have gone down by a few percent. The headline suggests the sales have gone to about zero.

    Using these two "facts" I can deduce that PC sales have always been nearly zero, a shithole market. You can question my stability, but you can't question my genius.

  • My work is the Apple walled garden/prison, but since my use is open/save/print, look at web page, the lack of time spent removing Hacker Crap is money well spent. Twice the price but not hassles later. My son has a gaming machine. We recently upgraded the video card, I tossed in a 256 ssd, and a better screen. We didn't break four figures, even close. If I ran windoze for the office, I'd save half, but pay it back in removal of hacker crap. It is clear there is no money left in the PC market, what I'
  • PC sales have been slow for awhile. I think it's partly due to PCs becoming more than fast enough for most uses. (Except gaming and some other performance-intensive tasks.) There just hasn't been a compelling reason to upgrade.

    I'm a heavy user of Adobe CC, and recently (about six months ago) upgraded from a reasonably top-of-line system built in 2005 (with graphics upgraded last year to an Nvidia card that Adobe would use to accelerate rendering) to a Dell T series workstation from 2014 or thereabouts.

  • Most people stop growing at around 40 years old. Do we then say that 40+ year-olds show few signs on life? The PC market has reached saturation and has stopped growing, which doesn't mean it's dead or dying. They're still selling huge numbers of PCs.
  • I assumed that people buying PC computers were content creating pros who trended to the expert side of things. But with HP taking the lead it clearly shows that I was wrong and that a vast portion of PC buyers took the short bus to the Staples store to get their fill of bloatware loaded flimsy piles of excrement. Once in a blue moon an HP will fool me into thinking "That one's not so bad." and then it tries to chew off one of my fingers with some shocking bit of low quality corner cutting marking BS nonsens
    • by tepples ( 727027 )

      If I had the choice between HPs best desktop model and a raspberry pi I would choose the pi without hesitation as I know that while not a star performer it won't let me down.

      My work involves FamiTracker and FCEUX debugger. These applications are free software, but they're made for the Win32 API and compiled for i686. Have you tried recompiling Windows applications for ARM using Winelib for Raspberry Pi? If so, what problems have you run into?

  • Windows 10 (Score:4, Insightful)

    by hambone142 ( 2551854 ) on Friday January 12, 2018 @10:42PM (#55919929)

    I'd love to buy new hardware but I WILL NOT buy a PC that runs Windows 10 or similar spyware OS's.

    I'm going to stay on Win7 and if Microsoft persists on collecting data on users with their OS, I will migrate to Linux.

    Game over unless Microsoft cleans up their act and I suspect they won't.

    That's one reason PCs aren't selling.

  • A lot of people are happy enough with a tablet or phone.

    In the last century, sewing machines were marketed to every family so they could sew their own clothes. Now, only professionals want them.

    Computers are following a tried-and-true path like other inventions before it.

Tomorrow's computers some time next month. -- DEC

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