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Laptop makers start seeing some green shoots

Posted on Wednesday, September 21 2016 @ 15:35:52 CEST by

Over the last couple of years we've heard a lot about the slump of PC sales and the changing landscape of the computing market. Since the start of the century, we first saw a big shift towards mobile computers as both offices and households got rid of the traditional desktop computer in favor of the smaller and portable notebook category.

Notebooks used to be pretty expensive but once they hit mainstream pricing the laptop segment quickly gained the upper hand. Laptop sales boomed for years while desktop PC sales stagnated, but in recent years the computer market as a whole declined significantly. Figures from research firm indicate PC sales collapsed 10.6 percent in 2015 and the company predicts a further 7.3 percent fall for 2016. Sales of desktops are expected to reach 103.3 million units this year, down from 133.9 million units in 2014, whereas laptop sales are expected to come in at 152.3 million units, down from 174.4 million units in 2014.

Not a lot of improvement is expected in the near-future, at least not for the desktop PC market. If IDC is correct in its estimates, sales of desktop PCs may decline at an average annual rate of 1.8 percent for the next five years. Laptop sales are expected to grow, but only by an average rate of 0.4 percent per year.

There are various reasons for the PC slump. Among other things, there's often not a lot of reason to buy a new PC because even mid-range PCs from five years ago have more than enough computing power to meet the needs of the average user. Gone are the days that you need to upgrade your computer to run new software or a new version of Windows. Whether you want to upgrade to Windows 10, run some image editing software, play some games on Facebook or bet sports online, you don't need a lot of computing power for this. This does not apply to gamers of course, so it's no surprise that gaming PCs and laptops represent green pockets of growth in the slumping PC market. If you want to play Doom, Fallout 4 or the upcoming Battlefield 1 in high quality, you have no other choice than to get a decent CPU and a high-end video card.

Furthermore, tablets also put a dent in the PC market. Since the launch of the first iPad in 2010, tablets have found their way into most households and put a significant damper on PC growth. Tablets are cheap, fast, ease-to-use and more portable than laptops, making them excellent for light computing tasks like browsing and reading. To a lesser extent, this also applies to the rise of high-end smartphones, which further reduce the need for access to "bigger computers". Smartphones are ideal for light tasks like Facebook browsing, boxing betting if you're a gambler, or some office work like checking spreadsheets and sending e-mails. In fact, high-end smartphones can already run pretty impressive games too.

When the economy started recovering after the financial crisis, we were bombarded with the term "green shoots" and perhaps we're now starting to see green shoots in the laptop market. A new report by DigiTimes Research claims the top 5 notebook vendors and top 3 notebook ODMs saw their August shipments rise 27 percent and 31 percent, respectively, versus the month before. The large shipment growth is attributed to an inventory buildup to prepare for the year-end holidays in Europe and North America, the Windows 10 Anniversary Update, and the arrival of Intel's mobile Kaby Lake processors.


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