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PC Sales See 'Longest Decline' In History

timothy posted 1 year,13 days | from the demand-elasticity-and-substitution dept.

Hardware 385

dryriver writes "Global personal computer (PC) sales have fallen for the fifth quarter in a row, making it the 'longest duration of decline' in history. Worldwide PC shipments totalled 76 million units in the second quarter, a 10.9% drop from a year earlier, according to research firm Gartner. PC sales have been hurt in recent years by the growing popularity of tablets. Gartner said the introduction of low-cost tablets had further hurt PC sales, especially in emerging economies. 'In emerging markets, inexpensive tablets have become the first computing device for many people, who at best are deferring the purchase of a PC,' said Mikako Kitagawa, principal analyst at Gartner, said in a statement."

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385 comments

Whatever (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,13 days | (#44249631)

The PC is doomed, blah blah blah. All the grandma's are buying tablets. Anyone who does any real work are buying PC's or already have what they need. Nothing to see here.

PCs are not going to die. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,13 days | (#44249835)

What worries me is that if the PC market can't continuing making profit off volume sales, the prices of a computer (or its components) will go up. I'm still on core 2 due (hey, still works), and waiting for it to die so I can build something with 8-core.

Re:PCs are not going to die. (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,13 days | (#44250331)

This. They can end up going up to the point that only businesses can afford them, and if companies insist with pushing for BYOD and using apps for the work, they may become so expensive that they may only become feasible for servers.

Re:Whatever (2)

unimacs (597299) | 1 year,13 days | (#44249993)

The PC is doomed, blah blah blah. All the grandma's are buying tablets. Anyone who does any real work are buying PC's or already have what they need. Nothing to see here.

What's funny about this is that 20 years ago my boss was saying the same thing. Just replace "PC" with mini or mainframe computer. The lines between PC and mini-computer got blurred and I don't know if there really is such a beast as a modern mini computer. It would just be called a server. The thing is that there are far more servers than there every were mini-computers. While the PC won't meet exactly the same fate, I think the number of devices that get referred to as "PCs" will continue to decline. Most "personal" computing will occur on much smaller devices.

In our office today we have more laptops than PCs and a large chunk of electronic communication now occurs on smartphones. Tablets are starting to get used in the field where laptops never quite worked as well as hoped. PCs (workstations really) are reserved for people that need more computational power. Folks who don't need much computing power and don't need a computer outside the office get terminals.

It's probably been about 5 years since I've had a PC or Mac desktop at home.

Re:Whatever (1)

sjames (1099) | 1 year,13 days | (#44250235)

The mini seems to have just merged into the server class PC. The PCs got faster and now have remote management, ECC RAM, etc like a mini.

Some (a small majority) of tablets are just PCs in a tablet form factor even now.

Re:Whatever (1)

unimacs (597299) | 1 year,13 days | (#44250355)

Some (a small majority) of tablets are just PCs in a tablet form factor even now.

I kind of doubt that actually. Maybe in terms of models but terms of actual sales I think iPads, Kindle Fires, Galaxy Notes, etc have blown away PC based tablets.

PC is the new Mainframe (2)

jellomizer (103300) | 1 year,13 days | (#44249995)

The Mainframe isn't dead, however it isn't as widely used as it once was. They are still new Mainframes being made, and any true Computer Scientist would drool to get their hands on one.
But that being said, they are not selling as many as they use to, most companies are going to PC based servers, because they are cheaper, and more software flexibility, and you are not as stuck with one company for support, and a large group of developers who can handle the platform.

Now the PC, are tablets going replace them? No, but they will bring the PC down to a few manufacturers. I expect Lenovo, Dell, Apple to survive in the desktop area, as they (Apple to the lesser extent) have a good hold in the business markets. However PC's would probably be more like Workstations reserved for more computer intensive work such as Software Development, CAD, Finance... But for other people tablets, with say keyboards could replace the rest of the people.

Re:PC is the new Mainframe (0)

toastar (573882) | 1 year,13 days | (#44250015)

The mainframe today is just a bunch of PC Servers that happen to have infiniband.

Have you ever actually seen a mainframe? (5, Informative)

sirwired (27582) | 1 year,13 days | (#44250315)

Have you ever actually laid eyes on a mainframe? You seem to be confusing them with low-budget HPC clusters. IBM is the largest mainframe vendor and I can assure you that they are not "a bunch of PC servers with Infiniband."

They use processors unique to mainframes; they don't even use IBM's POWER CPUs. They certainly don't use "PC" processors.
The internal I/O architecture is also unique to the box. (This is why they were, for many, many, years, the king of transaction processing; they had some unique advantages over the PC/UNIX way of doing I/O.)
Externally, they can talk several different protocols; communication to the "outside world" is mostly TCP/IP, and communication to peripherals is done via FICON (mainframe I/O over Fibre Channel), although Linux partitions can use FCP. (SCSI over Fibre Channel.)

I don't think the boxes can talk infiniband at all. Why would they? That's mainly an HPC protocol, and you'd be a complete blithering idiot to be running HPC applications on a really-expensive business-oriented transaction-processing monster.

Re:Whatever (1)

cod3r_ (2031620) | 1 year,13 days | (#44250099)

This probably has just as much to do with the fact that the machines are much faster and the operating systems more stable, virus protection more sound, yadda yadda yadda.. but people can keep their same machine for years w/out upgrading. Not like it use to be every year you wanted to upgrade the processor because the machine was godawful slow.

This is the slope before the cliff (-1, Flamebait)

Old VMS Junkie (739626) | 1 year,13 days | (#44249633)

The era of the PC is over. I'm not sure why anyone would be surprised at this.

Re:This is the slope before the cliff (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,13 days | (#44249687)

The PC is here to stay. What we are seeing is a longer life cycle. There is no need to update the hardware these days, there's plenty of power and storage for people writing the odd letter/email, social media and most games. Unless you're a developer or working with huge amounts of media data, PC users aren't going to notice a shit load of RAM, loads of cores CPU and a GPU capable of real-time Avatar level of rendering.

Longer Life Cycle (0)

tuppe666 (904118) | 1 year,13 days | (#44249943)

The PC is here to stay. What we are seeing is a longer life cycle. There is no need to update the hardware these days,

Hold on there why does anyone say this....I want more powerful hardware and can use it. Where is my 4X 1080P 24" touchscreen monitor, with keyboard with LED keys with these futuristic storage sizes with android compatibility...at a price I can afford. Microsoft turned the computer into a tablet...and Apple turned it into a none upgradable cylinder. At least they are still sat on massive profit margins while sales shrink, but who cares its a duopoly Anyway.

No wonder we are all running to android.

Re:Longer Life Cycle (2)

0100010001010011 (652467) | 1 year,13 days | (#44250229)

Why are people satisfied with 1080p. My 17" Dell laptop is 1900x1200. I want to replace it but every new dell is just 1080p and that's the upgrade they come stock with x900. I know the margins make it cheaper because of margins with all the 1080P TVs in production but jesus is a 17" laptop with more than a vertical resolution of 1080p too much to ask for?

Love or hate Apple at least their laptops have resolution Their 13" laptops are 2560-by-1600 and The 15" laptops are 2880-by-1800. That's twice the number of pixels as a Dell 17". I really wish Apple made a 17" laptop with retina display because I would buy it in a second.

Re:Longer Life Cycle (3, Insightful)

tgd (2822) | 1 year,13 days | (#44250245)

The PC is here to stay. What we are seeing is a longer life cycle. There is no need to update the hardware these days,

Hold on there why does anyone say this....I want more powerful hardware and can use it. Where is my 4X 1080P 24" touchscreen monitor, with keyboard with LED keys with these futuristic storage sizes with android compatibility...at a price I can afford.

Those are new monitors, not new PCs. You proved the GP's point. You talk about more powerful hardware, and listed nothing that actually involves replacing the PC. You just need to replace the peripherals.

Re:Longer Life Cycle (1)

UnknowingFool (672806) | 1 year,13 days | (#44250311)

Because you != everyone. I hardly think my elderly parents want to work with 2 24" monitors much less 4 to surf the web. Teenagers and children aren't going to lug 4 monitors into bed while playing games or listening to their music. Before consumers had to buy PCs to get any functionality. There will always be a need for PCs but more and more it is being relegated to power users. Face it, a core 2 duo is still more than sufficient if all you do is catch up on Facebook.

Re:This is the slope before the cliff (1)

HaZardman27 (1521119) | 1 year,13 days | (#44250063)

I still use only 4GB of RAM in both my work and home desktops. I do "normal" PC things like browse the web, listen to music, check email, and create documents. I also write software. Sometimes I do all of these things at the same time. Granted I'm typically using Linux, but I still never use any paged memory. When I want to play a game, I boot up Windows, and typically the game will be the only major piece of software running, so 4GB has still been enough for me. I had friends who were putting 12 to 16GB of RAM in a desktop three or four years ago. These guys don't even do any video editing or rendering, or anything that could seriously take advantage of that much memory.

In a year or two, I will probably upgrade. I imagine the introduction of new gaming consoles will start pushing game developers to start advancing again, and games will actually take advantage of better hardware.

Re:This is the slope before the cliff (1)

rolfwind (528248) | 1 year,13 days | (#44250407)

The problem is that there is no killer app that needs to be tamed by new PC hardware. Any killer apps there days are more likely going to be on phones and need to be tamed by phones sized hardware.

Maybe one comes out one day, maybe with games, 3D, holographic screens, but right now it's all kinda meh.

I think I seen this coming when GHz stopped climbing in the early 00s as well. You can wrench out more power with all the other tricks, but this was the easiest way. Even these days, I can feel when that GHz limit has an impact, as a program brings a core to it's max and just stays there, because it or some subfunction isn't made for multicore, and then with a single CPU chomping away at it, I feel like I'm back in 2003 again in terms of processor speed.

Re:This is the slope before the cliff (3, Insightful)

whizbang77045 (1342005) | 1 year,13 days | (#44250077)

Part of the longer life cycle is the lack of anything new with widespread appeal. Since Windows XP, the new versions have been lackluster. Sure, they draw a lot of really colorful pictures on the desktop. But they don't do much that couldn't already be done.

The existing PCs are powerful enough for most users, and have been for years. Most users are running Word, EXCEL, or their open source equivalents. They've had enough speed and memory for years. New hardware buys them little more than a keyboard without fingerprints. New software actually slows the machine down due to all the glitz.

Sure, there are a few people like me who want more speed for video processing, or other computational tasks,, but we're the exception, not the rule.

Re:This is the slope before the cliff (1)

ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) | 1 year,13 days | (#44250103)

The real issue here is that software is not being developed to exploit the new found power of modern PCs. An entire generation of programmers is wasting their time writing sophmoric beta "apps" for restricted tablet devices. People are buying these yes, but collectively our software and productivity levels are not advancing.

People used to upgrade their PCs to get a new OS with useful new applications. No such OS is being made anymore. Most of them, Windows, Mac and many Linux distros, are instead sliding ever backwards.

Re:This is the slope before the cliff (1)

UnknowingFool (672806) | 1 year,13 days | (#44250369)

That's not the real issue. What do most people need computers to begin with? They are not 3D modeling or doing highly computational mathematics. They needed a computer to surf the web, do email, and maybe now and then create documents. Leveraging all 6 cores of a Phenom for Excel so that a family can track their expenses isn't really worth a programmer's time is it? Gaming has been the only area where hardware/software has been pushed but not everyone is a hardcore gamer.

Re:This is the slope before the cliff (5, Insightful)

MetalliQaZ (539913) | 1 year,13 days | (#44249801)

That is a truly misguided statement. Here's a better one:

"Consumers use touch screens. Producers use keyboards."

Good luck using a tablet for tasks such as Photoshop or Blender. Heck, even using a tablet to type out a proper letter could be classified as cruel and inhumane.

The era of the PC is not over... only the era of the PC as an entertainment device.

Re:This is the slope before the cliff (0)

h4rr4r (612664) | 1 year,13 days | (#44249973)

Fun fact, you can use a keyboard with a tablet that has a touch screen. You really should look into the wonders of bluetooth.

Re:This is the slope before the cliff (1)

Known Nutter (988758) | 1 year,13 days | (#44250019)

You conveniently ignored the rest of the GP's comment. A BT keyboard and typing a letter... great, but what about the rest of it?

Re:This is the slope before the cliff (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | 1 year,13 days | (#44250043)

What else did I miss?
You can use a mouse and keyboard over bluetooth, how is this much different than any other PC?

Android is now reinventing Desktop environments, they are all the way up to Tiling window managers!
Next comes overlapping windows and then full compositing.

Re:This is the slope before the cliff (1)

Known Nutter (988758) | 1 year,13 days | (#44250375)

What else did I miss?

Well...

Good luck using a tablet for tasks such as Photoshop or Blender.

Re:This is the slope before the cliff (1)

MetalliQaZ (539913) | 1 year,13 days | (#44250025)

True, but I would argue that using a keyboard on a tablet is somewhat like using a touchscreen on Windows 7. It will work, but it wasn't designed to be used that way and it doesn't work all that great.

Re:This is the slope before the cliff (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | 1 year,13 days | (#44250059)

Works fine for me.
Heck, it saves a lot of screen real-estate if you turn off the onscreen one.

Android is reinventing window management, they are up to tiling and this rate we may have full compositing in a couple years.

Re:This is the slope before the cliff (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,13 days | (#44250133)

Nope, it's still a play device. Arm sucks, why the fuck would i want a tablet with the abilities of a 386? That's right the ARM world is being to break the power of a 386/486. WOW! Bluetooth with a 386! What fucking alternate universe do you live in? Tablets suck. Keep hitting the button for you dopamine fix fucktard. Pavlov's dog en masse!

Re:This is the slope before the cliff (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,13 days | (#44250131)

That is a truly misguided statement. Here's a better one:

"Consumers use touch screens. Producers use keyboards."

Good luck using a tablet for tasks such as Photoshop or Blender.

Most people are neither pure producers or pure consumers.

How about this: "People use PCs when they're on the job. When they get home, they use tablets."

Heck, even using a tablet to type out a proper letter could be classified as cruel and inhumane.

Who types out proper letters anymore? (Answer: people applying for or resigning from jobs. Also octegenarians)

The era of the PC is not over... only the era of the PC as an entertainment device.

This. Except for hard-core PC gamers, a tablet is the go-to device for goofing off on the Interwebs.

Re:This is the slope before the cliff (1)

mlts (1038732) | 1 year,13 days | (#44250253)

Nail, head, hit. The PC has moved from the primary computer to more of a background workhorse. Eventually, it will merge with the server [1].

What has changed is that there are other ways to use machines other than keyboards/monitors, in the way of media consumption. Devices needed for media production are just less in demand. Where someone would view a YouTube vid on their desktop in the past, they might watch it on their laptop or phone today.

[1]: Something I find ironic since I do see a market for home servers that can do DNS caching, backups which rsync to an encrypted remote drive, OnLive-like streaming of video, SAN functionality with 10GB iSCSI, even a PCIe antenna to switch to LTE if the main upstream goes down. Ultimately, I can see the desktop becoming more of a background server (perhaps along the lines of Intel's personal servers), and would have multiple ways to access the data on it.

Re:This is the slope before the cliff (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,13 days | (#44250377)

"Only the era of the PC as an entertainment device"

Yes, clearly entertainment on PC is dead. There's no such thing as Netflix or Steam, those are just myths.

Re:This is the slope before the cliff (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,13 days | (#44250035)

The PC age is not over, the PC market is saturated with good enough hardware for the masses. This means users don't need to regularly replace their computers when they maintain what they have. The people these days who upgrade regularly are specialists who are constantly working with bigger datasets, gamers who want to max out the detail settings for the latest 3D games, or people with disposable cash and are too ignorant about PC maintenance who adorn their system with the prettiest malware filled screensavers.

The PC will always be needed for a huge range of tasks in the workforce. It's true that there are plenty of computing applications that only require minimal user input while the heavy lifting is done on some pro server machine in some hidden room, such users would likely be satisfied with a touchscreen tablet. For everybody else who uses a computer to input truckloads of data or does finely controlled creative work all day long, these people would likely prefer a keyboard, mouse, >10" display and a decent amount of power for processing that a traditional PC offers.

Re:This is the slope before the cliff (1)

RaceProUK (1137575) | 1 year,13 days | (#44250093)

The era of the home PC is over.

FTFY.

The market won't disappear of course, because of hobbyist developers, gamers, etc.

Re:This is the slope before the cliff (1)

RaceProUK (1137575) | 1 year,13 days | (#44250115)

Should have also said that I believe we're now in the era of multi-device, as more people have a tablet and a smartphone, either instead of or alongside the more traditional PC and/or laptop.

Re:This is the slope before the cliff (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | 1 year,13 days | (#44250217)

Some of use even have smartphone, multiple tablets, laptops and more than 1 PC. As it turns out the total cost for all this stuff is pretty amazingly low and it fits in pretty small part of the average human dwelling.

Re:This is the slope before the cliff (4, Insightful)

tgd (2822) | 1 year,13 days | (#44250231)

The era of the PC is over. I'm not sure why anyone would be surprised at this.

That's drawing a conclusion on shaky evidence.

Drops in PC sales does't indicate that PC usage has dropped.

The real issue is two things:
- There's little in the way of new markets for generic computing devices. After 30 years, most of the population likely to ever have one have been served effectively by the companies selling them
- In existing, saturated markets, there's declining reason to replace existing systems. The sweet spot of memory, storage, and CPU power has been met for the majority of the uses that people have them for. Gaming is really the only area pushing a need for new computers, and even that is arguable in most cases. (Peripheral sales like new video cards is doing just fine, as an example). Even things like editing HD video of the kids is done more than effectively with five year old hardware.

That is the real problem. There's no need to upgrade a 3-4 year old system, short of hardware failures. The fact that even a small part of the market (and is IS very small) can do everything they need on a tablet, without a primary computer is more evidence that there's just no "new" uses that drive a need for new hardware, and a smaller "ultrabook" form factor isn't a compelling enough reason to get people to cough up $1k.

Fact is, other then web surfing, most of the things people have always used PCs for they still need to use PCs for. You can't store a terabyte of family video and photos on a tablet. If you have a Windows tablet, I suppose you could use an external drive. Wireless NAS is just too slow. You're not, generally, going to tap your way through your taxes on a little tablet.

PC era isn't over, but the era of 18-24 month lifespan for PCs is. If that doubles, then sales have to drop in half.

Re:This is the slope before the cliff (1)

Mike Frett (2811077) | 1 year,13 days | (#44250271)

So what are you going to do, large scale video and audio editing on a Tablet or your Phone?. Oh that's right, you're going to make an AAA Game or some Movie CGI for a flick next year on that Phone and Tablet!.

Please...just because you don't have any work to do, doesn't mean the rest of us don't.

I got yer fix! (5, Funny)

KatchooNJ (173554) | 1 year,13 days | (#44249635)

Tablets now fall under the umbrella of being a PC. BAM! Problem fixed... no more PC sales decline.

Re:I got yer fix! (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,13 days | (#44249773)

Personal computers only include rectangular towers with some larger form ATX motherboard. That other stuff is clearly not for computing --or personal for that matter.

Re:I got yer fix! (4, Informative)

Internal Modem (1281796) | 1 year,13 days | (#44249963)

Gartner says that these PC shipment numbers include Windows 8 tablets, but not Apple’s iPads.

Re:I got yer fix! (1)

Riceballsan (816702) | 1 year,13 days | (#44250257)

The year of the psudo-linux home PC has arrived!!!!! Now having a tight match-up between apple and google, while Microsoft kind of fighting to get in the door... Which I kind of find ironic. Of course I have to say, I'm not a huge fan of either of the main competitors, nor the standard of walled gardens, but what I am a fan of, is having 2 competitors with drastically different base OS, giving developers an incentive to develop onto platform independent technologies, which is good for the existence of home-brews, Linux PCs etc...

tablets? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,13 days | (#44249645)

pc owners are the producers of content on that computer network, not tablet users

Producers vs Consumers (1)

tuppe666 (904118) | 1 year,13 days | (#44249859)

pc owners are the producers of content on that computer network, not tablet users

Except its not true...real keyboard and mouse have uses, but the rise of pen+drawing screen is actually a better input for artists, hell anything where a pad beats static computer.

As for an iPad being better for consumption....seriously my 24" monitor is so much better for consumption than a tablet for *anything* videos, web pages. games...

The main difference is the trade between portability at the lack of some screen estate, power, storage, ease of input and it just happens in most use cases these are not as important.

Not necessarily because of usage. (4, Insightful)

Brad1138 (590148) | 1 year,13 days | (#44249651)

Computers made in the last 5 or so years are darn fast, and unless you are a hard core gamer, will be plenty fast for the next 5-10 years. I just built my father a modern computer in the hopes he won't need a new one for about 10 years.

Re:Not necessarily because of usage. (5, Funny)

Hsien-Ko (1090623) | 1 year,13 days | (#44249663)

But it has Windows 8.

Re:Not necessarily because of usage. (5, Informative)

kelarius (947816) | 1 year,13 days | (#44249755)

Computers made in the last 5 or so years are darn fast, and unless you are a hard core gamer, will be plenty fast for the next 5-10 years. I just built my father a modern computer in the hopes he won't need a new one for about 10 years.

Pretty much this. I run a couple of repair shops and we end up fixing 5 year old computers more often than replacing them simply because for day to day browsing tasks, they are more than sufficient. Hell, most of them can even decode HD to some extent, which pretty much rounds out what 90% of the market uses them for. PCs are becoming a niche market, get used to it, it wont change. Tablets and phones are the future, especially as input methods improve (attachable keyboards, docking stations and such)

No software exists to justify buying new hardware. (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,13 days | (#44249787)

Even hardcore gamers don't need to upgrade anything right now. There's no need.

The game industry has killed most of the game-side innovation due to the mergers and tunnel vision on anti-piracy and now nothing is pushing the envelope that would typically have driven gamers to buy the latest hardware to run the latest games.

Golden goose: dead. (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,13 days | (#44249927)

This is where the golden goose has been slain.

Re:No software exists to justify buying new hardwa (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | 1 year,13 days | (#44250021)

You forgot consoles. They are so woefully underpowered right now compared to desktop computers that it limits games since no big budget games will go PC only. The PS4 and and Xbone are not exactly sporting impressive specs either. I was pretty let down when their specs came out. You can be sure they will be around at least as long as the current generation, so that will stagnate gaming pretty seriously on the performance side of things.

Re:No software exists to justify buying new hardwa (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,13 days | (#44250287)

Correct. I did not forget them but I see the console interaction as part of the consolidation/anti-piracy-control problem/profit over quality issue with the electronic game industry in general.

Re:Not necessarily because of usage. (4, Insightful)

javakah (932230) | 1 year,13 days | (#44249829)

Well, more than that, they seem to have stalled in terms of getting much better. 4.5 years ago I built an i7 system. I've been used to getting a new computer every 2-3 years that blows the old one out of the water. This time however, there just hasn't really been much to upgrade to. The CPU specs are still competitive. We're still at quad cores. We've gone from tri-channel memory on the i7's to dual channel. I've upgraded the graphics card though.

In the past, people would buy new computers because their old ones were made obsolete by new ones (so not necessarily because their old ones stopped working). This hasn't happened in a while, so why would people buy new computers that aren't an upgrade, if their old ones are still working?

Re:Not necessarily because of usage. (5, Insightful)

h4rr4r (612664) | 1 year,13 days | (#44250075)

Get an SSD.

Dropping an SSD into a 4 year old machine will make a bigger difference than getting a new CPU for 90% of people.

Re:Not necessarily because of usage. (1)

javakah (932230) | 1 year,13 days | (#44250317)

You are right on this. The only other changes that I've made beyond upgrading the graphics card have been to add an extra hard drive, as well as adding in an SSD.

Re:Not necessarily because of usage. (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,13 days | (#44250109)

And - add to that..

De price of hardware (CPU's, Memory and especially Hard disks) has NOT been gowing down - it just stay's leveled.

One of the prime reasons I upgraded my old hardware in the past, was that prices of near-top-notch hardware came into an afordable range. This has sadly not been the case latest years. An i7 is just as expensive as a few years back. Would I like to upgrade? Well - as I am using music/sound software (Cubase, Ableton Live, Sonar) I would LOVE to have a more potent system. But -as said- the prices did not go down, and the better hardware is just still out of range for me..

Result? I have not upgraded anything (well some specialised sound hardware, but no PC).

I think I am not the only one...

Well, (1)

DFurno2003 (739807) | 1 year,13 days | (#44249679)

I have been using this computer, an intel Q9650 for quite some time, in fact I believe longer than any other computer I have had and I will be using it for the next several years.

definitions matter (4, Insightful)

argStyopa (232550) | 1 year,13 days | (#44249683)

For some reason, there still remains this weird claddistic requirement that "pc's" (ie desktops, I guess?), laptops, and other devices be all conceptualized in separate boxes. Or, it could just be that the companies that are paid to do this sort of info gathering (and sorting) aren't changing as fast as technology...?

PC stands for 'personal computer', at least it did.

The laptop was the evolution of the desktop into a more broadly useful form factor.

The smartphone, and the pad device are precisely the same thing - just other points on the spectrum, not a whole different genus of computer.

That said, then, if one were to include the counts of all such devices that have the computing power and utility of a desktop even as short as 10 years ago, I hardly believe that the "PC market" is in decline.

One might even wonder then what the agenda is for such a naked contrivance to present the situation in such a gloomy light might be?

Re:definitions matter (1)

TeknoHog (164938) | 1 year,13 days | (#44249873)

IIRC, Playstation 2/3 had the ability to install another OS for tax reasons. In Europe, pure gaming machines had higher import duties than computers that could be used for "real work". This is a distinction I'd like to keep in some form, even if there are no tax reasons; the ability to install your own OS and software is a big deal for personal freedom.

Re:definitions matter (1, Insightful)

MetalliQaZ (539913) | 1 year,13 days | (#44249937)

The laptop was the evolution of the desktop into a more broadly useful form factor.

The smartphone, and the pad device are precisely the same thing - just other points on the spectrum, not a whole different genus of computer.

I disagree. The evolution from PC -> tablet is at least as profound as the evolution from mainframe -> minicomputer -> PC. Tablets and smartphones are really more of media consumption devices, which go to great ends to de-emphasize composition of anything greater than a photo, SMS or tweet. Laptops were really just a mobility improvement, where tablets are an entirely different mode of usage.

Re:definitions matter (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,13 days | (#44249951)

The smartphone, and the pad device are precisely the same thing - just other points on the spectrum, not a whole different genus of computer.

Those you listed are nothing like computers, well not the computer we know and love here on Slashdot, unless you like Vendor Lock-in and being told what you can and cannot run on said devices.

Re:definitions matter (1)

FranTaylor (164577) | 1 year,13 days | (#44250079)

not the computer we know and love here on Slashdot

You CLAIM to speak for all slashdot users, but really you speak of the raw newbies who think computers come in a small metal box with an Intel sticker on it.

unless you like Vendor Lock-in and being told what you can and cannot run on said devices.

WOW you define words based on what you LIKE? And apparently you've ignorant of the fact that many devices can be unlocked and you can install whatever you want on them.

Re:definitions matter (1)

cyber-vandal (148830) | 1 year,13 days | (#44250165)

I don't have to unlock my computer in order to install anything on it. I just plug in a USB stick of the OS and away I go. I shouldn't have to do anything more complex than that for any of the newer class of computing device.

Re:definitions matter (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | 1 year,13 days | (#44250243)

What vendor lockin do I have on my Nexus devices?

I have a non-factory OS, I have a chroot and a nice terminal to use it with. I can install any software I like, since you know I installed the whole damn OS.

Re:definitions matter (1)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | 1 year,13 days | (#44250033)

The IBM PC cast a long shadow on the industry.

Even today, Apple's motto is still "Think Different", a parody of IBM's motto of "Think".

Re:definitions matter (1)

Sockatume (732728) | 1 year,13 days | (#44250123)

It includes laptops, but excludes tablets and smartphones. (Some analysts idiosyncratically include Windows tablets, or non-Apple tablets, or whatever happens to make a more sellable story.)

It's interesting because tablet computers are growing while laptops and desktops are shrinking. It's a transitional period.

Re:definitions matter (0)

SirGarlon (845873) | 1 year,13 days | (#44250155)

The smartphone, and the pad device are precisely the same thing - just other points on the spectrum, not a whole different genus of computer.

I disagree. So-called "mobile devices" have locked down operating systems to the point where the end user does not control what is running on the machine. They have dumbed-down user interfaces that often hide the contents of the file system from the user (Android devices may vary), and lack adequately sized keyboards and displays for most professional work.

My definition of a computer is not "a device that plays streaming video." My definition is more along the lines of "a device that provides data-processing tools to help the user solve original problems." So if, on a given device, I can't write a script to sort the lines of an ASCII file (perhaps after installing a Python interpreter or similar), I wouldn't call that device a PC.

needs vs wants (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,13 days | (#44249689)

I wonder how much of this is due to the cost associated with buying a new PC. It seemed for a long time there, that folks would buy a new PC at the drop of a hat (slow, virus, 2 years old...). I doubt that it has anything to do with smartphones, or we'd just see the same trend with tossing out smartphones at the drop of a hat.

Re:needs vs wants (3, Interesting)

alen (225700) | 1 year,13 days | (#44249735)

it has everything to do with smartphones and tablets

a family needs only 1 PC in the now. but a smartphone or tablet for every member on average. lots of kids starting around 9 get their own smartphones. earlier than that for ipads

Win 8 adoption (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,13 days | (#44249697)

I wouldn't be surprised that Windows 8 was a large culprit as well. I don't know anyone with a favorable view of the OS, besides the Microsoft PR department. They have been hitting home runs with XBone and Win8.

No Mention of Windows 8 (5, Interesting)

tuppe666 (904118) | 1 year,13 days | (#44249733)

No mention of the fact that Intel and Microsoft are still bleeding customers on gross margins of 70%. Computers have to compete against other computing devices, and they are not doing so on price. Windows 8 being a tablet OS is the nail in the coffin.

Re: No Mention of Windows 8 (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,13 days | (#44250121)

Amen!

You can't buy a general purpose pc retail now. They all have Win8 and UEFI BIOS which means they won't even boot Win7 or Linux

My PC (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,13 days | (#44249743)

Just still works.. But I guess I should go buy a new one now before the specs go into a slump :/

It isn't tablets (4, Insightful)

dreamchaser (49529) | 1 year,13 days | (#44249761)

The main reason for the decline of PC sales is that PC's have gotten to the point where their useful life is far longer than it used to be. Other than bleeding edge gamers and enthusiasts, there is just no need to upgrade as often as people once did. The same applies more or less to businesses.

Nearly every person I know who owns a smartphone and/or a tablet also has some sort of PC. I really don't think the portable device boom is the culprit here.

Re:It isn't tablets (-1, Troll)

FranTaylor (164577) | 1 year,13 days | (#44249819)

Nearly every person I know who owns a smartphone and/or a tablet also has some sort of PC.

"Acquaintance of a slashdot user" is probably the WORST way to pick a statistical sample, your anecdote is WORSE than USELESS.

Re:It isn't tablets (2)

dkleinsc (563838) | 1 year,13 days | (#44249915)

Nearly every person I know who owns a smartphone and/or a tablet also has some sort of PC.

Well, what do you expect, when "nearly every person I know" consists of "my mother".

Re:It isn't tablets (1, Offtopic)

dreamchaser (49529) | 1 year,13 days | (#44249953)

You have no clue about my life or who I know. Most of my friends and acquaintances are not IT people. Some of us have lives outside of IT. If you don't I'm sorry, but that doesn't apply to me. Your retort was WORSE than USELESS.

Re:It isn't tablets (-1)

FranTaylor (164577) | 1 year,13 days | (#44249969)

your anti-social response tells me everything I need to know

Re:It isn't tablets (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,13 days | (#44250389)

Nearly every person I know who owns a smartphone and/or a tablet also has some sort of PC.

"Acquaintance of a slashdot user" is probably the WORST way to pick a statistical sample, your anecdote is WORSE than USELESS.

Is it really WORSE than USELESS?
Seems like a pretty reasonable anecdote to me. I'd be kinda surprised if someone owned a tablet/smartphone but no PC/laptop, that's a little unusual.

Re:It isn't tablets (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,13 days | (#44249933)

There's power (performance) and then there's power (energy).

The future is to make PCs that aren't so much more powerful in terms of performance, but do the same things more efficiently and more conveniently.

The PC market is not as doomed as some people think.

Average Consumers Pick a Communication Device (2)

BoRegardless (721219) | 1 year,13 days | (#44249789)

So why pick a more expensive & less mobile PC?

Re:Average Consumers Pick a Communication Device (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,13 days | (#44250067)

Most teenagers will automatically think, why do I need a PC when my new smartphone can browse the net and also with smart tvs and now even the Xbox can use Internet Explorer, the demand should expect to fall for PCs.

The only teenagers that buy PCs these days are the geeks and the hardcore gamers.

custom PCs? (1)

mwn3d (2750695) | 1 year,13 days | (#44249843)

does this take into account people buying parts of PCs and assembling them themselves? i feel like it's gotten easier to just upgrade one or two parts rather than the whole computer now too.

Re:custom PCs? (1)

FranTaylor (164577) | 1 year,13 days | (#44249945)

i feel like it's gotten easier to just upgrade

Why do people insist on taking their own personal anecdotes and projecting them onto the rest of the industry?

I feel like going for a swim today, does this mean the computer industry should make a waterproof model?

Not as many are needed (4, Insightful)

Tridus (79566) | 1 year,13 days | (#44249905)

At the end of the day, we just need fewer PCs than we used to:

- People can do their "consumption" media (browsing, videos, etc) on tablets or phones. Don't need a PC for that.
- People who use PCs for work have no reason to upgrade them as often as they used to, as the machines last for years and real world performance gains in hardware have slowed to a trickle. When most of my software is single-threaded, upgrading from dual core to quad core (or more) does absolutely nothing for me.
- Even gamers don't need to upgrade that often, as requirements have stopped going up unless you want the ultra quality mode. A three year old gaming PC can still play everything new at high quality, and that's never been the case in the past.

Add it all up, and we need fewer PCs today than we used to need. The ones we do need last longer than they used to. The market isn't going to go away, but it is going to become a lot smaller.

My experience (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,13 days | (#44249923)

Me: Good morning i would like to buy a PC for the purpose of gaming which means i would require power.
Employ: Sure you have here this lovely...
Me: That seems to have 6 GB of RAM and also the graphic card is an old Nvidia with 1 Gig dedicated only... i would require more
Employ: Well no one complained about gaming on this one.. its even playing currently Bioshock Infinity.
Me: That's the trailer.... it's a FMV
Employ: It still renders pretty fast thanks to Windows 8
Me: Also without windows 8. I still accept 7 tho...
Employ: Sorry no windows 7... we recalled all those for Windows 8 equivalents..
Me: Bye

It's not tablets (4, Interesting)

MpVpRb (1423381) | 1 year,13 days | (#44249931)

The main reasons that sales are dropping...

Everybody that needs one has one, and they work well enough. Very few people need the latest and greatest

The various different activation and protection schemes make it a royal pain to upgrade

I used to buy new hardware frequently, and just clone my hard drive

Now, I hold on to hardware for as long as possible

I fear that if I upgrade, I will end up spending hours on hold waiting to convince some dude in India that I'm not a pirate

Microsoft kills the PC (5, Insightful)

0123456 (636235) | 1 year,13 days | (#44249949)

I suspect this is primarily because people who think of buying a new PC go to the store and see Windows 8 and think 'WTF? Why do I want a tablet interface on my 24" monitor?'

In a vain attempt to gain a few percent market share on tablets, Microsoft are killing their PC cash cow.

Re:Microsoft kills the PC (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,13 days | (#44250285)

While I agree Win8 is a problem in terms of it's desktop UI, I do believe there's a case for a 24" touch-screen.

Having used a Asus transformer I was amazed that within a few weeks I was reaching for the screen on my regular laptop and home/work desktops.

Even though the mouse was still my go to 90% of the time, when you're hands are on the keyboard and you just want to click one thing:

Touchsreen: 1) move hand to screen and touch (you could argue this is two actions I guess, but they're one fluid motion) 2) return hand to keyboard

Mouse: 1) move hand to mouse 2) locate cursor on screen 3) move cursor to desired point and click 4) return hand to keyboard

I think a lot of people who've not tried it think touchscreen is meant to replace the mouse, it's not. It's meant to be another input on top of the current staples.

I, for one, approve of our new touchable overlords.

What were they expecting? (3, Insightful)

Pollux (102520) | 1 year,13 days | (#44249999)

Perpetual exponential growth? Good luck with that.

I would expect this to be obvious to the casual observer, but I guess not. So, let me enumerate:
Primary reasons for the decline:

1) The PC has been around now for over 20 years. It no longer possesses excitement and consumer appeal.
2) SMARTPhones and tablets are better meeting the needs and desires of the consumer; their increasing sales are supplanting PC sales.
3) The PC market is saturated, either due to consumer need or financial constraint. (Plenty of foreign markets have consumers but lack capital to meet the saturation levels of Western countries.)
4) Digital product producers, online retailers, and brick & mortar stores have all been significantly marketing tablet and SMARTPhone devices to consumers while ignoring their traditional PC products.
5) Tablets and SMARTPhones have much shorter average lifespans than traditional PCs, creating more consistant and continual demand for their replacement.

Ergo, you have a very simple recipe for the decline of PC sales.

The PC no longer possesses consumer appeal (1)

tuppe666 (904118) | 1 year,13 days | (#44250201)

I've ignored your drivel about a smartphone replacing the Desktop Computer...even though I agree the smartphone is a personal computer, I find them complementary devices.

Looking at your statement "PC has been around now for over 20 years. It no longer possesses excitement and consumer appeal." It needs to generate it. It needs to lower prices...produce compelling exciting machines, Where is the sambuntu +android compatible 8 core ARM laptop with 4X displays for under $200. The only think old is Microsoft + Intel (and Apple)...and Ironically copying Apples losing (vastly profitable) strategy. Looks like Android Desktop computers for us whatever you think of that.

not correct (4, Insightful)

slashmydots (2189826) | 1 year,13 days | (#44250013)

"PC sales have been hurt in recent years by the growing popularity of tablets."
That's BS, it's Windows 8's fault entirely. This study doesn't count used PC resale or a drop in computer (scrap) recycling levels. Tablets replace laptops, not PCs. There is no drop because of tablets. It is completely Windows 8's fault.

More people KNOW how to build a computer (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,13 days | (#44250085)

More people know how to build a computer at the fraction of the cost. Consider the fact that a considerable amount of kids back when windows 95 was released are full grown adults, probably married as well. The generation before it knew almost nothing about computers. Now, Dell, Gateway, HP etc... They all make solid PC bundles from time to time but it can easily be done at home at the fraction of the cost and they are usually built with the customer's needs in mind, versus on what the corporation wants the customer to do. For example, if I want a computer that will last 3-years, I will build one that lasts for 3-years and still be slick. Additionally, computers are "Fast enough" as it is. My computer was originally built in 2007. The only three things that are still original on it are the motherboard, processor, and dvd burner. I did upgrades incrementally and I can play BF3 at full settings. Incremental upgrades is the keything here and I can't be anymore redundant because these polls are always the same deal. Focus strictly on bundle sales and you're going to pretend that the market is dying. If anything, the PC is just as important if not more important than before. Steam is an amazing thing.

Sure Microsoft has now nothing to do with it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,13 days | (#44250105)

Maybe this was emphasized too much ... maybe

Microsoft, with Windows 8 said that the PC is dead and only the tablet has a future.
They stopped completely to support developers on desktop development because the desktop is dead, they said.
At the recent build the message was clear, all the technology to make desktop application are deprecated and probably Windows 9 will have just the don't call it Metro interface.
This is so idiotic that no one would believe they will make it.

They did it.

I know, this argument was emphasized too much in the past days and even without these decision by Microsoft, the PC sales would have dropped because all the people out there are just buying a tablet and for that, now all say Microsoft has nothing to do with it, come on ... it's not Microsoft fault.

But I invite you to consider the opposite scenario ... if we had a Windows 8 totally dedicated to the desktop and with great features, or better without the schizophrenic interface it has now, used maybe on a separate Microsoft OS just for tablet, do you really think that had not helped to draw a different scenario?

There are few reasons to buy a PC at the moment just to run Windows 8 in any .x releases they will make. This is the truth.
Thinking that customers are just a bunch of idiots buying anything you push to them doesn't pay in the long run

I'm so bored of the BS about the DEATH of PC's (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,13 days | (#44250169)

"PC sales have been hurt in recent years by the growing popularity of tablets" NO NO NO BS!!! Tablets compliment PC's, no SANE person would completely replace their PC with a tablet (at least not one that actually uses their PC for work)
The PC sales decline is due to one thing only, NO requirement for new PC, it's that simple, new PC's these days don't offer any better performance or experience than the PC of 3-4years ago. Why buy a new PC when the one you have works great!?
Tablet sales are doing great because they compliment PC's, best option for when you're out and about on the move & not everyone has one, YET!
That's the main reason PC sales are down, I would almost bet that more PC's are in USE & more people use PC's now than have ever been used in the past.

No mention of Windows 8 (1)

intermodal (534361) | 1 year,13 days | (#44250185)

I love how this article fails to mention Windows 8 and focuses entirely on tablets. I haven't even owned a desktop since about 2006, instead using a laptop, but even at the office, anything with multiple cores has been fine so far as long as we have plenty of RAM.

I've been replacing a few Pentium 4 (pre-HT with 512MB-1GB RAM) systems here and there, but that's about it.

My 2007 laptop still serves me well (1)

Junior J. Junior III (192702) | 1 year,13 days | (#44250207)

I bought a T61p Thinkpad in 2007, and it's still my everyday machine. I've upgraded the memory to 8GB, hard disk, replaced a keyboard, and the battery, all very economically when the prices of those components came down. I love this machine, especially its keyboard, and am loathe to give it up unless I can find another with the same layout. In particular the pgup/pgdn/home/end keys are layed out in a manner which makes them very useful and natural for navigating within a window. I wish laptop chassis were standardized enough that you could customize these sorts of components easily so you can get just exactly what you want. I'm thinking about finally upgrading sometime in the next year, but am in no hurry. I'm considering a Thinkpad T530 or a 15" MacBook Pro with Retina display. I looked at the Razer Blade Pro, but I didn't think I'd like the keyboard, and had concerns about durability (due to lack of data on that aspect and not having seen one in person to gauge how sturdy they are).

Heh (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,13 days | (#44250275)

I put a more powerful PC together for less than half of what comparable laptops sell for. Even desktops. They don't mention that though. Only the failures are mentioned. Yay PC! It's your NAS, media center, personal workspace and porn machine all in one!

PCs are not dying. (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,13 days | (#44250289)

Until you can give me a tablet that can reasonably multitask, is NOT Windows 8 EVER, has decent keyboard, mouse, peripheral support, support for external monitors, possibly even support for external graphics card bays that are slowly growing in numbers to make laptop users not feel as gimped, PCs will never die.

Seriously, think of it this way:
Remember that Big.LITTLE thing mentioned earlier from ARM? Now, imagine instead of that being inside the tablet, imagine extending that to external hardware instead.
The beefy stuff is in a box dedicated to high CPU and GPU load. Literally an embedded CPU/GPU solution in a box with extra working memory, sorta like those current external GPU bays you can buy now, mainly used for laptop solutions since they can't upgrade. You just plug tablet in to this box, box to screen (even wirelessHDMI)
Add better support for external hardware through USB hub. (that powers it too)
There could probably even be a hub designed for this in particular. It has a CPU/GPU connection, say, 4 USB, ethernet, audio connections, and all of this goes in a high-bandwidth single wire in to the what is now the USB and powering method for most tablets just now. You could probably even separate the CPU/GPU, USB/AUDIO, ethernet lines but just have them inside the same cabling. No faffing around with so many different cables, plug one thing in, sit tablet down, done.

So, now I can have my mobile tablet, take it around outside with me, do whatever crap.
Come home, plug in to hub, sit it on stand, optionally turn monitor on, have keyboard and mouse control, can play Crysis on my god damn tablet and monitor at the same time with no problems.
I would get rid of my desktop in a heart beat for this simplicity in PC design. PCs are terrible, disgusting messes of hardware from an industry scared to change.
Where the hell are 3D motherboards already? Motherboards don't get THAT hot, it is the components on them that do. And even some of those aren't that hot.
Why the hell is half my motherboard not wrapped up in to a tiny little box yet?
Why are RAM chips still huge instead of laptop form-factor? Expensive? Because you won't bloody adapt and still make stupid huge chips! Take the pill already!

The desktop industry will have to adapt at some point, and the above is honestly the best idea for everyone.
It packs the simplicity and complexity of hardware in to a very neat solution, the portability of mobile solutions to fixed hardware, the weak underpowered applications to bleeding eyeball inducing games.
And this is from someone that screws around with hardware and the like.
Common interfaces are the best thing, everything else around it can be whatever crappy terrible hardware it wants to be, just use common, simple methods to link everything together and everyone is happy, from the casuals to the enthusiasts. (people that like pain and suffering need not apply)

win8 and UEFI (3, Insightful)

ka9dgx (72702) | 1 year,13 days | (#44250341)

The combination of Windows 8 and UEFI BIOS makes it now impossible to buy a general purpose PC in a typical retail store. The new machines won't boot linux or Win7.

Who would buy a PC you can't use?

Didn't need a PC in the first place (4, Insightful)

Larry_Dillon (20347) | 1 year,13 days | (#44250343)

Many people are finding that they didn't need a PC in the first place when all they do is light web browsing and posting on Facebook. Previous to the smartphone/tablet, they needed a PC to do that. I think we'll see more special-purpose devices taking over functions that were previously relegated to the general-purpose PC.

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