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PC Sales Are Flat-Lining

timothy posted about 2 years ago | from the more-like-personal-computer-is-changing-its-meaning dept.

Technology 485

DavidGilbert99 writes "Gartner has released figures showing that PC shipments globally declined 0.1 percent in the last three months, making it the seventh consecutive month of little-to-no growth in the PC market. This was despite the launch a number of new Ultrabooks, the much-vaunted slim-and-light platform promoted by Intel. The decline has been put down to the poor economic situation around the globe, increased spending on tablets and smartphones instead of PCs as well as the imminent launch of Windows 8, making people hold out on updating their PCs."

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485 comments

Flat-Line (4, Insightful)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 2 years ago | (#40629915)

I don't think that word means what you think it means, Timothy.

(What a shocking thought...)

Re:Flat-Line (5, Interesting)

jmorris42 (1458) | about 2 years ago | (#40631341)

Nah, he used it in the modern corporate sense. If sales aren't going up, Up, UP every quarter then they might as well be dead. Smaller players will begin to pull out, big players will see their share prices tank, etc. Tech companies are structured on the basis of ever growing sales and profits so the idea of a nice stable market would be death to them and they probably won't have time to restructure.

Longer term, sales will probably go down. For a long time millions and millions of people who had no business buying a PC were buying them because of the Windows monopoly, to get access to basic things like email, word processing and basic web/media consumption. Those users are going to finally go away and stop demanding that the PC be turned into what they wanted all along, a simple device without confusing options, flexibility or programability.

But people who always needed the power of a PC will continue needing one so they aren't going to go away.

Re:Flat-Line (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40631421)

Nah... "flat sales growth" would be the corporate term.

Flat-Line means dead.

PC growth opportunities are going to require a major hardware improvement or architectural change (i.e. HP/Hynix is working on something called "Memsistor" where RAM is replaced with storage that retains state when power is removed-- and costs less to make than Flash).

Re:Flat-Line (5, Insightful)

KingMotley (944240) | about 2 years ago | (#40631727)

Nah, flat-line only means dead in the medical industry. Everywhere else flatline means exactly how he used it -- there is neither advancement nor decline.

Re:Flat-Line (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40631953)

No... zero growth means zero growth, and flatline or zero means zero.

(PS - nobody in the medical profession says "flatline" either)

Re:Flat-Line (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40631495)

But people who always needed the power of a PC will continue needing one so they aren't going to go away.

People who need a PC already have one. What is going to make us wanting to upgrade? A brand new machine is hardly better than a 5 years old one, so why replace them before they break completely?

Re:Flat-Line (5, Insightful)

jmorris42 (1458) | about 2 years ago | (#40631611)

> A brand new machine is hardly better than a 5 years old one, so why replace them before they break completely?

If that is your attitude you probably are one of those people I was talking about who needed a tablet all along.

A PC built today is actually a lot better than one from five years ago, especially if you spend the same money. But if all you are doing is running Firefox on it you won't see much advantage. Or for that matter, if you are running Office you won't see a difference. But if you are pushing the edge you will. From a developer to a gamer, from 3d modeling to hi-def video editing to even sound mixing, a new machine will still improve productivity. And a new machine for a serious user now would almost certainly be equipped with multiple displays while five years ago that was still fairly uncommon.

Re:Flat-Line (5, Insightful)

peragrin (659227) | about 2 years ago | (#40631763)

So what you are saying is maybe 10% of users have a use for all that power that modern PC's have and the rest basically need a dumb terminal from 1997 that can run the internet browser of their choice and office application?

Me I go about every 5 years between new machines mainly because i buy laptops and something goes and after 5 years it is better to buy new.

Re:Flat-Line (2)

SpryGuy (206254) | about 2 years ago | (#40631853)

This is why tablet sales are exploding. Most people don't NEED any more than to browse the web or watch a video or read an eBook or play a simple little game.

Beyond iOS and Android devices, new ARM and Intel Windows devices are coming on line. Lots of new hardware and form-factors (spurred by both Android and forth-coming touch-friendly Windows 8) are coming this fall and through next winter. I imagine a lot of people are "holding off" to see what the next generation will provide... far more touch, in far lighter/slimmer form-factors, with full USB3/Thunderbolt support, and probably even more stuff like NFC and the like.

Now just seems like a really bad time to buy new systems.

And "Desktop" systems seem to be receeding back into the niches that need them... business, developers, gamers, power-users. Casual users will basically abandon them (and already largely have) for laptops, tablets, and portables.

Re:Flat-Line (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 2 years ago | (#40631863)

"A PC built today is actually a lot better than one from five years ago, especially if you spend the same money."
not really.
That statement was perfectly true until about 2007.
In fact, to get onto an equivalent place on the curve cast more money now, for a variety of reasons. CPU prices aren't declining likwe they used to, Manufacturing issues over seas.

Anecdote:
4 years ago I bought a cutting edge PC. Top CPU and RAM. 800 dollars. 9I build them myself, natch)
Noew, 1500 min.

Also, I cans till play everything I get on steam, and CPU wise it runs fine. I Do upgrade my video card every 2 years.

caveat:
I don't do SLI, and the vid card is two steps down from the top. 600 for a video card? no thanks.

I don't know if they'll even go down (4, Insightful)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | about 2 years ago | (#40631559)

They'll just stop going up much. New computer technologies don't seem to kill off older ones, just make new markets. I mean it turns out that we have more mainframes today than when we had only mainframes, however that still isn't very many and there isn't any growth in the market. But it isn't dying.

Same deal with PCs likely. We'll reach saturation and they won't really drop, they just won't grow.

Re:I don't know if they'll even go down (3, Insightful)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | about 2 years ago | (#40631757)

No PC numbers will go down. Most people who use PCs are using it for just one or two tasks. They bought PCs because the dedicated machines were not available then. The hardware prices have fallen so low, it is possible to create dedicated machines for the few tasks most people use. Web, store & view personal photo collections, store and listen to music, covers 100% of use by 90% of the people, and 90% of use by the remaining 10%. So they all will go away from Desktops and laptops.

Once that large base leaves, they would not be subsidizing the cost of Desktops/laptops. This will increase the price of PCs and it will drive more people away. Eventually Desktops will go back to be workstations used by engineers at work. I see very few hobbyists doing video editing and such stuff needing Desktops in the future.

Re:Flat-Line (1)

scot4875 (542869) | about 2 years ago | (#40631627)

For a long time millions and millions of people who had no business buying a PC were buying them because of the Windows monopoly

How does this make any sense at all? People were buying PCs because they needed a PC; it had nothing to do with the Windows monopoly, unless you're one of those lusers who thinks that "PC" means "Windows".

Anyway, the writing has been on the wall for a while for the traditional PC industry; for the vast majority of people, their phones or a cheap tablet are all the computing power they'll ever need. My only concern with this is that traditional PC hardware currently enjoy economies of scale that could disappear if everyone moves to locked-down non-upgradeable tablet appliances.

--Jeremy

Re:Flat-Line (1)

jmorris42 (1458) | about 2 years ago | (#40631799)

> unless you're one of those lusers who thinks that "PC" means "Windows".

For purposes of this discussion it pretty much does. Consider the other two options, Apple's OS X products are close enough in complexity to Windows to drop their tiny market share into the same bucket and traditional desktop Linux certainly isn't for the 'only needed a tablet' crowd.

People bought Windows PCs because they needed web/mail/Office and it wasn't permitted to sell an appliance because Microsoft wouldn't have allowed it. Thus most people bought a PC with Windows and yuppies with plenty of disposable income sprung for a Mac. But even a Mac was way more complicated and flexible than most people needed.

Re:Flat-Line (4, Insightful)

gstoddart (321705) | about 2 years ago | (#40631737)

Longer term, sales will probably go down. For a long time millions and millions of people who had no business buying a PC were buying them because of the Windows monopoly, to get access to basic things like email, word processing and basic web/media consumption.

Well, that's kind of what a PC is for, isn't it? What, exactly, makes that so those people had no business buying a PC? Because they can't field strip it or debug it?

Those users are going to finally go away and stop demanding that the PC be turned into what they wanted all along, a simple device without confusing options, flexibility or programability.

Why should they have to go away, and why isn't that a realistic expectation?

I was talking with my neighbor the other day. From what I can piece together, a Colonel since he mentioned a Major who works for him.

He was asking me why every other device in his house he plugs in, and then it goes. He doesn't have to dick around with the internals or know anything about it. He'd been through a lot of frustration with his Windows laptop, and said every time he tried to connect it to wireless it was a 30 minute job.

I've always thought it should be a perfectly reasonable goal that at some point, computers would need to reach a point of operating like toasters and televisions instead of something which comes in a kit.

Slashdot has this absurd bias that PCs should be magical devices which are reserved for the technology priesthood ... I think that's ridiculous. The reality is, pretty much everybody in modern society wants access to email, word processing, and basic web stuff -- and they mostly just want it to do it without a lot of fuss.

There seems to be a knee-jerk reaction that these people must be a simpering idiots who should just stay away from technology. Given my neighbor's rank and the other stuff he does, he's far from an idiot, but simply wants to use the damned thing to do some work. He's got more important things to do than worry about the technology.

In the end, I was hard pressed not to suggest a Mac -- because for all of those people who just want it to work and have no time to learn the ins and outs, that's kinda what it does well.

Having gotten tired of fiddling with PCs in my spare time to just make them work, increasingly what I want is something which is as easy to use as my TV.

Re:Flat-Line (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40631907)

do people watch porn on their tablets? i ask because i don't (own tablet)

the thought being would some one care to use a credit card(identity) tied machine to view porn? or leave messages on slashdot? that if lost/stolen (this happens) or used by a family member; would expose what happens in the dark recesses of the basement :)

Re:Flat-Line (2)

beelsebob (529313) | about 2 years ago | (#40631831)

No, it really does – it means reading a flat signal, not changing. I.e. when a ECG is flat lining, it's recording equal voltage across the heart because it's not being stimulated to beat. It does not mean dead (though with ECGs it can be rapidly followed by death).

So, consumers are getting smarter then? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40629927)

Instead of buying computers built to last a year so you'll buy them over and over again, people are buying computers that actually have durability.
Hence, less buys.

Re:So, consumers are getting smarter then? (4, Insightful)

Reverand Dave (1959652) | about 2 years ago | (#40631433)

They are obviously not buying Dells then.

Re:So, consumers are getting smarter then? (4, Interesting)

rockout (1039072) | about 2 years ago | (#40631501)

I don't think they're buying either. My wife had a laptop just to keep her from using my desktop. Once that became outdated, I got her an iPad, and she loves it. Email, websurfing, and a few games, and she's happy. Just no need for a PC. We can't be the only ones that replaced one of the full-featured PCs in the house with an iPad, or something similar.

Re:So, consumers are getting smarter then? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40631939)

I'm sure many people who have a simpleton for a wife replaced her computer with a device a monkey could use.

Re:So, consumers are getting smarter then? (2)

busyqth (2566075) | about 2 years ago | (#40631503)

FTFA: Apple sales up 4.3%

Re:So, consumers are getting smarter then? (1)

BronsCon (927697) | about 2 years ago | (#40631773)

Apple as in Mac and iDevice, or Apple as in Mac? If it's the former, then include Android devices in PC sales. If it's the latter, well, damn.

Re:So, consumers are getting smarter then? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40631833)

Apple as in Mac. If you include tablets as PCs, then PC sales are on a slight increase. Of course, if you *do* include tablets as PCs, that increase is entirely the result of the iPad.

Re:So, consumers are getting smarter then? (3, Informative)

beelsebob (529313) | about 2 years ago | (#40631845)

It's the latter.

Re:So, consumers are getting smarter then? (1)

BronsCon (927697) | about 2 years ago | (#40631871)

We'll see if that continues for another 6 months. Their actions over the last couple of weeks, combined with the lackluster Mac lineup this generation, might put a dent in their growth.

Re:So, consumers are getting smarter then? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40631865)

The latter.

The reports did their best to put the PC companies in good light.

The report would look much worse if iPads were included.

Re:So, consumers are getting smarter then? (4, Insightful)

realityimpaired (1668397) | about 2 years ago | (#40631533)

Instead of buying computers built to last a year so you'll buy them over and over again, people are buying computers that actually have durability.
Hence, less buys.

More that computers simply *are* lasting longer.... unless your OS is festooned with viruses or you want to play the latest and greatest games on the market, there is absolutely no reason you can't do everything most users do with computers on a 8-year old hardware. And the first of those issues can be addressed by either reinstalling the OS or simply fixing it (or paying somebody to do so).

Couple that with a more "savvy" user who's more likely to be aware that viruses exist and Windows offering people free antivirus, and it means that the majority of PC users simply have no impetus to buy a new computer: their old one is good enough for angry birds and facebook.

Re:So, consumers are getting smarter then? (2)

dsvick (987919) | about 2 years ago | (#40631931)

I agree, I only just recently replaced a 10 year laptop. I'd updated the OS on it once and maxed out the memory, but otherwise it still did 80% of what I needed it to do. I only replaced because the hinges on the lid broke and it would no longer stay up, that and it took 15 minutes to start the Android emulator. My wife works fine on her 6 year old laptop as well.

Re:So, consumers are getting smarter then? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40631969)

Games no longer drive the hardware market like they used to.

Everyone and their brother are developing for consoles now and many PC games that exist at all are simply ports of a console.
As a result, there really isn't much of a driving force to upgrade existing hardware. Other than specialty users ( 3D, Photoshop,
CAD, etc ) why bother upgrading ?

Re:So, consumers are getting smarter then? (1)

ackthpt (218170) | about 2 years ago | (#40631629)

Instead of buying computers built to last a year so you'll buy them over and over again, people are buying computers that actually have durability.

Hence, less buys.

Consumers are buying what they need. When you need a PC to do work (or play games) you buy one, when all you want to do is text, surf, share junk on fazebook, etc. you get a smartphone or tablet. Simples.

Well... (3, Interesting)

gabereiser (1662967) | about 2 years ago | (#40629939)

If they would make pc's that I would actually buy, this wouldn't happen. "Ultra-books" are not sleek looking, nor thin (in most cases). They don't hold a candle to the Macbook Air despite a lot of windows users wanting something that does. The PC Market is flat-lining because there really isn't much innovation happening on the pc hardware front-end... I still have a brick of a desktop, a brick of a laptop, and no one seems to care that Apple is killing PC makers with their sleek looking macbook pro's and their fresh hardware... Gimme a Laptop Air that runs Windows or hell, Linux, and I'll buy it in a heartbeat...

Re:Well... (5, Informative)

Princeofcups (150855) | about 2 years ago | (#40631459)

Gimme a Laptop Air that runs Windows or hell, Linux, and I'll buy it in a heartbeat...

OK, it's called the Macbook Air, and it runs Windows and Linux. Now off to the Apple Store with you. Bring your credit card.

Re:Well... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40631835)

I think he was referring to the Penguin Air. lol

http://www.thinkpenguin.com/

Re:Well... (1)

evil_aaronm (671521) | about 2 years ago | (#40631483)

In all seriousness, can't you install Windows or Linux on a MacBook Air?

Re:Well... (1, Informative)

BronsCon (927697) | about 2 years ago | (#40631857)

Yes. But then he can't imply that he's "suffering" on OSX because he's forced to buy Apple if he wants a pretty machine.

Just more proof that Apple has become a vanity brand. Shame, Snow Leopard is a decent OS (I would know, I use it 40+hr/wk but it hasn't been a mandatory platform for me for over a year now), but Lion and Mountain Lion are playing into the vanity theme. When the updates stop flowing in for Snow Leopard, Apple finds themselves off my buy list; for now, they're just near the bottom.

Re:Well... (4, Interesting)

pubwvj (1045960) | about 2 years ago | (#40631659)

"Gimme a Laptop Air that runs Windows or hell, Linux, and I'll buy it in a heartbeat..."

It's called a Macintosh and any of them run Windows or Linux if you really want to downgrade to that. I'll stick to MacOSX.

As to sales, Apple is increasing market share while the others are flatlining. Why? Quality. I buy a Mac and it lasts a decade or more. We have 1999 Macs in our family that are still running fine. We just pass them down the line.

Re:Well... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40631801)

That do what? Email? That's it.

Re:Well... (0)

SpryGuy (206254) | about 2 years ago | (#40631927)

I know a bunch of people that bought MacBooks or MacBook Airs, and upgraded to Windows 7 on them, and use that as their native system.

Time to trade in my PCs? (5, Interesting)

Drethon (1445051) | about 2 years ago | (#40629957)

Honestly though, I bought an I7 desktop almost two years ago with 12Gb of memory and a pretty good graphics card. I haven't found any reason why that PC isn't still fast enough for about for of anything I use it for today. This compares to ten years ago when a two year old desktop simply cried with the lowest settings of the newest computer games.

Re:Time to trade in my PCs? (3, Interesting)

snowraver1 (1052510) | about 2 years ago | (#40631375)

I built my computer 3 years ago for $400 + scavanged parts. It dual core 4 gb of ram win7. I have no plans on upgrading.

Re:Time to trade in my PCs? (1)

sarysa (1089739) | about 2 years ago | (#40631743)

Nice. I built a PC less than a month ago and I think Wirth's law [wikipedia.org] is slowing down, which is why you can get away with that. Moore's Law, otoh, has kept pretty well -- power has stagnated in many areas recently (especially processor speed) but price is still going down. Aside from my ungodly fast desktop, I have an itty bitty $250 netbook (single core, atom processor, crap RAM) which I take everywhere and it gives me little grief.

I think some of the reasoning behind the change from the late 90's early 00's is:
  • * Software developers want to port to mobile platforms as well, which is forcing them to be more than efficient enough for the PC market.
  • * There are tons of great old programs that get the job done, and the average user is recognizing this.
  • * We're all nerds so we definitely recognize the above, probably using a lot of the same software we did 10-20 years ago.
  • * Weak laptops (like my itty bitty netbook) are still fairly popular...

I'm currently predicting 7 years for my custom, unless something really shakes the industry...

Re:Time to trade in my PCs? (5, Insightful)

Thelasko (1196535) | about 2 years ago | (#40631377)

Heck, I've got a 6 year old Core2 and I don't see a reason to upgrade. I'm not a heavy gamer, so I don't require a fast machine, and everything seems to be running fine.

PC speed improvements just aren't that noticeable these days. They are also much more reliable than they were 15-20 years ago.

Re:Time to trade in my PCs? (1)

JBMcB (73720) | about 2 years ago | (#40631993)

Here here. 5-year old Core 2 quad - all I really feel the need for is some more RAM as I'm doing more VMs these days, and a faster HD. Even my GTX260 plays new games fairly well.

Re:Time to trade in my PCs? (1)

Freddybear (1805256) | about 2 years ago | (#40631399)

I built a core-2 quad desktop about four years ago and with a recent upgrade to the video card (GTX 550ti) it's plenty of power for the stuff I want to do.
I looooove to window shop on Newegg for the latest fastest MB's and spiffy upgrades but it's just not something I gotta have. Maybe in a couple more years...

Re:Time to trade in my PCs? (1)

man_of_mr_e (217855) | about 2 years ago | (#40631439)

I bought an i7 PC almost 4 years ago, first with 6GB and I upgraded it to 12GB, recently added an SSD. There is no reason to buy a new PC when 4 year old PC's are just as good.

The only reason I intend to upgrade is to get Thunderbolt, also the RAID controller in my system is borked and I would like to do striped SSD's so I'm looking to upgrade that as well. So once the Thunderbolt boards become commonplace, I may upgrade.

Re:Time to trade in my PCs? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40631923)

There is no reason to ever have to buy a new PC. I've upgraded my desktop from a Packard Bell P75 with 8MB ram and 850MB disk to a Phenom X6 with 16GB ram and 2.5TB disk. There were several motherboards, cases, power supplies, optical drives, etc. replaced along the way - enough to build several other desktops.

It's easier to buy something already built - if they use the right components that don't cut corners. Things like integrated graphics, having only 2 memory slots, having a power supply capable of just 200 watts, etc. really put a damper on buying any new desktops.

Apple's the closest to a good desktop, but they cost $500 too much for the hardware provided.

Re:Time to trade in my PCs? (4, Insightful)

pegasustonans (589396) | about 2 years ago | (#40631451)

Honestly though, I bought an I7 desktop almost two years ago with 12Gb of memory and a pretty good graphics card. I haven't found any reason why that PC isn't still fast enough for about for of anything I use it for today. This compares to ten years ago when a two year old desktop simply cried with the lowest settings of the newest computer games.

Exactly.

With many PC games in recent years targeting DirectX 9 for easier Xbox 360 portability, any halfway decent hardware can run the latest games.

It'll be interesting to see if the next generation of consoles causes a ripple into the PC game market as well, bumping up the minimum specs new games.

Re:Time to trade in my PCs? (4, Insightful)

gman003 (1693318) | about 2 years ago | (#40631471)

Part of that can be blamed on a lengthy console generation. Most games have to sell on the PS3/360, consoles that are now around six years old. Developers aren't going to spend extra millions making a game that can really push modern PC hardware, because that gives them no edge on the more lucrative console market.

When the next generation of consoles comes out, I expect PC games to immediately jump in hardware demands.

It's not entirely based on this, though. Display resolution's another thing - we're getting close to "as good as a game can look in 1920x1080, 60Hz". If 2160p displays suddenly become universal, you'll see the rest of the computer having to work harder to keep up.

Re:Time to trade in my PCs? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40631689)

It's not entirely based on this, though. Display resolution's another thing - we're getting close to "as good as a game can look in 1920x1080, 60Hz". If 2160p displays suddenly become universal, you'll see the rest of the computer having to work harder to keep up.

As long as I can tell the difference between a game and a live-action movie, there's space for graphics to improve. I'll admit I haven't seen any recent computer games, but I suspect true photorealism is still pretty far off.

Re:Time to trade in my PCs? (1)

SpryGuy (206254) | about 2 years ago | (#40631961)

I think another limiting factor is how much of the "PC" sales space is actually on laptops, which use Intel Integrated Graphics. If you DO want to make a PC version of your game, AND you want a big-enough potential market, you have to run on these lower resolutions, lower power systems. The "Gamer PC" market just isn't big enough any more (compared to consoles, or the PC space as a whole) to warrent the investment, especially in these leaner economic times.

Re:Time to trade in my PCs? (1)

TheRealGrogan (1660825) | about 2 years ago | (#40631487)

Good point... games are no longer driving the computer hardware industry. They are mostly console ports, with, at best, a few DirectX 10/11 effects tacked on after the fact, for the PC. (Often added later with patches, at that).

Graphics card manufacturers (Nvidia and ATI) are cranking out higher numbered products that are mostly just minor design improvements over the same old shit. (The performance improvement, say, between last year's card and this year's iteration with a higher product number wouldn't justify an upgrade if you already had one)

I haven't needed a hardware upgrade in 2 years either. It won't be until some time after the game consoles get a hardware upgrade and game vendors stop writing for the lowest common denominator that there will be any incentive for further innovation.

Re:Time to trade in my PCs? (1)

Reverand Dave (1959652) | about 2 years ago | (#40631541)

I'm in the same boat. There just have not been any huge leaps forward on the PC front to justify and overhaul. It's not like they've introduced a new form of hyper threading or multi-core processing and over all the industry trend seems to be leaning more towards leaner processing. which will only push the longevity of my current system even further. More than anything it's the general lack of major innovation that has kept me at my current level, and despite what the fanboys will say, Mac's haven't innovated anything truly useful lately either.

Re:Time to trade in my PCs? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40631899)

That's been my story too. Upgraded to 6970 ATI graphics card, only because my Nvdia 280 got broke when I shipped it home and I was interested in 3 monitor gaming. Bought an i5 processor and new motherboard and ram just because my Core 2 Quad core MD didn't have USB3 and couldn't use more than 8gb ram. I saw no reason to buy another sound card and dumped that. The only thing that has been even remotely interesting are SSD drives, a pair of those in Raid 0 are very reasonably priced and easily max out the SATA 3 on the MB. All the TBs of spinner HDs got dumped into a home server that is banished to the garage, so the SSDs have more than enough local storage. Sure you could run multiple graphics cards, but most games won't really put any of that hardware to any real use.

  Really what it's come down to is that PC productivity and gaming is more or less maxed out on budget or near budget hardware. Until games start giving us realtime lighting, very complex physics, advanced AI, an increase in number of simultaneous users (local and online), and wrap around 3d views there is almost no need for any real big bumps in hardware specs.

Re:Time to trade in my PCs? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40631547)

Just got rid of my P4 400 last year...more because I WANTED to upgrade than the need.

Re:Time to trade in my PCs? (1)

scharkalvin (72228) | about 2 years ago | (#40631575)

I've been building / upgrading my main computer when technology takes a big enough leap forward and prices are in a low point. Two years or so ago I build a new Athlon x2 2.8ghz machine with 4gb of ram. At the end of last year I gave that machine to my wife and built a new one with a Phenom II X4 @ 3.5ghz with 12gb of ram. The Bulldozer had just come out and prices on the older Phenom II's took a nosedive. Other than maybe adding some more ram or a larger disk I don't see any reason to upgrade anytime soon. Intel's Ivybridge looks interesting (but pricey), wouldn't go there unless I go all in with the I7 and 4 way memory interleaving. And why bother, my Phenom II is fast enough with Win 7 or Linux 64 bit OS's. I also still have a standby machine with a real old Asus socket 939 MB and a dual core Athlon-64 processor that can run the latest Linux. THAT macine only has 2gb of ram and won't take more (DDR-1).

Re:Time to trade in my PCs? (1)

Cornwallis (1188489) | about 2 years ago | (#40631753)

I bought my Tandy Model 100 twenty-eight years ago and it still does what I need it to do.

Take that!

Or maybe: (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40629959)

We've already all got computers?

Re:Or maybe: (1)

alexander_686 (957440) | about 2 years ago | (#40631407)

Or Tablets (which are not PCs)

Or Web Services (I know the cloud is hyped, but I know I have delayed in buying a new desktop because I am doing more work online.)

Not suprising (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40629961)

Are they getting better or cheaper?

I hope windows 8 fails (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40631337)

I really thought it would be the rise of the linux desktop this time, why do people want a crappier start menu?

So? (4, Insightful)

Animats (122034) | about 2 years ago | (#40631365)

US Car sales are down. House sales are down. Employment is flat. Why should PC sales be different?

Re:So? (4, Informative)

dc29A (636871) | about 2 years ago | (#40631481)

Why should PC sales be different?

Ask Apple, they went through the 2008 financial clusterfuck with flying colours. Same for some Android makers.

Re:So? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40631721)

Yeah but we WANTED their products.

We don't want Microsofts.

Btw I worked at Microsoft for a decade as a software engineer and I don't even want their products, except maybe Visual Studio and Office and DirectX and Windows 7 (Windows 8 is like Vista/Millenium all over again, never can they do TWO good windows releases in a row and even Office is now feature rich enough we don't have to upgrade thats why they keep making new file formats to force us to lol and why they don't let us forward upgrade.Net into Visual studio so we have to buy it every 2 years), that is about it and the only things they done right.

Re:So? (1)

alexander_686 (957440) | about 2 years ago | (#40631603)

Because in past recessions (~30 years) spending on technology has held up pretty well. Most of the time IT growth only slowed – it did not stop. That implies that technology generated a lot of productively gains. Now – today – maybe not. It may be that we have reached a level of technology where productive gains level out. Does a office worker need a 2nd computer?

I don’t think that is the answer – I think consumers are moving to tablets and Business is moving towards servers.

Re:So? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40631943)

Your talking about technology yet the article is about PCs. Is there any proof that technology didnt continue to grow?

Re:So? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40631709)

Why do you say that US car sales are down?

Flattening, not flat-lining (3, Informative)

rbanzai (596355) | about 2 years ago | (#40631371)

Yes, on a graph it will be a flat-line. But "flat-lining" is when someone's heart is no longer beating.

Re:Flattening, not flat-lining (1)

KiloByte (825081) | about 2 years ago | (#40631441)

Flat-lining means exactly a graph becoming flat, no matter if it's a sale chart or EKG.

Re:Flattening, not flat-lining (1, Informative)

mystikkman (1487801) | about 2 years ago | (#40631647)

Flatline in an EKG means zero electrical activity.

Flatline in a sales graph would mean zero sales, not just sales being steady.

Re:Flattening, not flat-lining (1)

jthill (303417) | about 2 years ago | (#40631759)

Flat-lining in every use connotes death. Things that have leveled off "have stopped growing", "have reached a plateau", "have leveled off", "have saturated their market segment".

windows 8 (2, Interesting)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about 2 years ago | (#40631419)

Many consumers thinking of upgrading will no doubt be holding out until October when Windows 8 is launched, before upgrading their PCs. This obviously means that the Q3 results are likely to be similarly flat, though Ultrabooks, the second generation Ivy Bridge versions of which are being launched at the moment, could have more of an impact by then.

Read more: http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/articles/362375/20120712/pc-shipments-fall-ultrabook-flat-hp-lenovo.htm#ixzz20RKdxqyA [ibtimes.co.uk]

WOW I thing it's better to buy windows 7 now.

Re:windows 8... Fantasy. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40631489)

Fantasy.. no one wants windows 8 except a few crazy windows phone people and a couple of developers.

Re:windows 8... Fantasy. (1)

alexander_686 (957440) | about 2 years ago | (#40631663)

I think you are both right.

The market has been flat for the past 7 months – so it’s just not people waiting for Win8. And I have heard nothing dramatic that makes Win8 a must have (Unlike the jump from XP to 7).

But it could explain the last quarter or 2. I know people who are on the fence about replacing an older computer and have decided to limp along for another 3 to 6 months or so until Win8.

Re:windows 8... Fantasy. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40631665)

And the Chinese. They love buying anything with an 8 in it. And before you mod me down, look into it. Addresses and Phone numbers in China with lots of 8's in them are highly prized. It's also likely that your local all-you-can-eat chinese buffet has an 8 in the name.

Re:windows 8... Fantasy. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40631729)

I think we will have a lot better idea about windows 8 sales next year at this time, after it has actually been available for 6 to 8 months, don't you?

I bought a Raspberry Pi, does that count? (1)

chispito (1870390) | about 2 years ago | (#40631435)

Otherwise, my desktop and laptop are around six years old and going strong.

Disposable income is what's flatlining (1)

mholve (1101) | about 2 years ago | (#40631455)

What little disposable income people have in this economy these days is going to cheaper, more mobile devices. Not so much smartphones, but clearly tablets - and the largest percentage (60% or so IIRC) going to Apple's iPad.

Article missing a minor point (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40631479)

Other web sites are also reporting on the Gartner survey, but making hay of something that barely got mentioned by IBT: Apple's sales are up. That's ignoring iPad and iPhone sales - Apple's sales of desktop and laptop computers is up 4.3 percent.

Re:Article missing a minor point (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40631631)

With a few exceptions, PCs became very commoditised. They all do the same thing (run Windows), except some have nicer plastic or are dirt cheap. It was a race to the bottom. The companies doing well are those with decent corporate sales, appeal to niche high spending markets (perhaps gaming, but even that isn't as ivory tower as it used to be), or those who can work PC sales nicely in to an ecosystem of shit to sell. Companies like HP and Lenova don't have the brand recognition that Apple's built up, and they offer variations on the same thing. This was inevitable for any hardware companies who didn't successfully distinguish themselves from the hundred other companies selling pretty generic I'm guessing we'll see similar in the world of Android as generic hardware manufacturers plonk out gear that runs a system available from many other companies. That's not knocking Android, or for that matter Windows. It's up to OEM vendors to do have a good strategy, whether that be adding value or by racing to the bottom of the price lists.

Ultrabooks suck (5, Insightful)

David Jao (2759) | about 2 years ago | (#40631567)

The results are hardly surprising. Ultrabooks cost more and weigh more than a Macbook Air. They're noisier, hotter, less durable, and don't look as good. If PC makers want to compete with Apple then they need to do so with a product that improves on the Air in some way. All they can offer is faster performance, which is NOT what this market segment is looking for. I want a good ultrabook very badly. I own no Apple computers and have no plans to get one, but neither am I eager to buy a PC which is so markedly inferior to what Apple offers.

Re:Ultrabooks suck (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40631699)

I used to feel the same about apple computers. I dare you to walk into an apple store, play with a 13" mac book air and walk out without wanting or having bought one. (if you really insist you can put windows on it, you'll never find a more stable and reliable laptop with windows than a mac book air).

Re:Ultrabooks suck (2)

NatasRevol (731260) | about 2 years ago | (#40631971)

So, by your own words, you think Apple has the best computer. But you won't buy one.

I really can't fathom why.

If you don't like OS X, put Windows or linux on it.

The Air is the same cost (or less) as other ultrabooks, so it's not price.
The Air is just as upgradeable as the other ultrabooks, so it's not expandability.

I guess I'll just scratch my head and look at you oddly.

PC's are like dish washers (2)

alen (225700) | about 2 years ago | (#40631593)

you buy it and expect it to last for years no matter how cheap it is

for most of us the value is in smart phones and tablets which are much better at most tasks than PC's. i use my MBP to hold some photos and that's about it. between my wife and I most computer use at home is on iphones and ipad

Re:PC's are like dish washers (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40631735)

Yea, but just like a PC my dishwasher is always nagging me, update my shoes, my wardrobe, we need a ....

I am reading this on a 3 year old PC (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40631639)

That I will probably never replace since I use my ipad for light browsing, my kindle for reading, my phone and corporate laptop for work/email. My XBOX and Wii (yes, still play it with the kids) for gaming...

No market for mainstream, complete PCs (1)

DL117 (2138600) | about 2 years ago | (#40631693)

There isn't much of a market for prebuilt, complete mainstream PCs. Enthusiasts and gamers either build their own from parts or order a custom. Mainstream/consumers just use the same internet/word processing computer for years and for entertainment use gaming consoles and tablets.

Admittedly anecdotal (5, Interesting)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | about 2 years ago | (#40631711)

I don't know of anyone that's holding out on updating their computers because of Windows 8. Heck, I hardly know anyone that cares at all about Windows 8.

I do know several people who, over the last year or so, decided to buy an iPad to replace their aging computer rather than buy a new computer.

As others have noted, there are a lot of people that own computers but really have no need of one.

Windows 8 (1)

QuietLagoon (813062) | about 2 years ago | (#40631717)

I doubt if the "waiting for Windows 8" effect is as strong as is suggested. Windows 8 is not really a PC OS, it is more of a touch-screen OS. So why would PC users wait to buy a PC with Windows 8.

.
I would think that PC users would be hurrying to upgrade before they can no longer get Windows 7 pre-installed.

Re:Windows 8 (2)

Jesus_C_of_Nazareth (2629713) | about 2 years ago | (#40631797)

I wonder how many shoppers even ask for something with Windows? I imagine it'd be more a PC, and it's expected they can browse the web and buy stuff for it. Anybody with experience in retail who can fill in some blanks?

2 main reasons i see (2)

nurb432 (527695) | about 2 years ago | (#40631741)

1 - is the economy
2 - people have finally figured out that they don't really need to participate in the upgrade treadmill.

Windows 8? (1)

TankSpanker04 (1266400) | about 2 years ago | (#40631793)

The decline has been put down to [other reasons, and] the imminent launch of Windows 8, making people hold out on updating their PCs.

It seems more likely the imminent launch of Windows 8 would cause a rush to purchase Windows 7 PCs before you can't (without going custom).

4 PCs in 14 years (4, Informative)

Leo Sasquatch (977162) | about 2 years ago | (#40631915)

1998, 2002, 2007, 2011. Some upgrades - 1998 was 400MHz CPU and 64M RAM with a 12M Voodoo 2. 2011 was 6-core Phenom 2, 8G RAM and 1G 6870. All built as gaming rigs in their time. But if you build it right, it lasts a while. They're not impulse purchases. Once every 4-5 years, just replace everything. Can't be arsed trying to do partial upgrades and squeeze another few fps out of a system that's just not up to it.

And if you just want to read your email, a smartphone will do in a pinch, but a tablet will do fine. Practically anything on the market will do it - doesn't need to be a top-of-the-range iPad. So only gamers are buying PCs. Businesses aren't - we have 5 year old machines in the office that still run XP and Office just fine. We don't need multi-core setups and uber-gfx cards to do Powerpoint and Excel. We have no upgrade plans for at least 3 years and we'll probably completely leapfrog Win7 when we do. PCs got 'good enough' a while back - no wonder the market's flattened out.
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