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Technology Hardware

PC Sales Are Flat-Lining 485

Posted by timothy
from the more-like-personal-computer-is-changing-its-meaning dept.
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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PC Sales Are Flat-Lining

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  • Flat-Line (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ColdWetDog (752185) on Thursday July 12, 2012 @01:40PM (#40629915) Homepage

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

    (What a shocking thought...)

    • Re:Flat-Line (Score:5, Interesting)

      by jmorris42 (1458) * <jmorris@[ ]u.org ['bea' in gap]> on Thursday July 12, 2012 @03:47PM (#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: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        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).

      • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Thursday July 12, 2012 @04:02PM (#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.

        • by 140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) on Thursday July 12, 2012 @04:22PM (#40631757) Journal
          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.

          • by hairyfeet (841228)

            The problem with your logic is thus: that is the same argument used right before the dotbomb with the "we're all going to the net!" thinclient stuff and then as it is now the "dedicated boxes" cost MORE than simply buying your average Dell. Look at the price of the Chromebooks and prepare to choke, these things are Celeron duals with a tiny SSD and they want MORE than an i3 or AMD quad laptop for the things.

            In the end even with people only replacing when they die the economies of scale when you are talkin

        • by 140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) on Thursday July 12, 2012 @04:24PM (#40631787) Journal
          All my foes are spelling or grammar Nazis.

          I am a splleing and grammer Nazi, yoo insesntvie clod!

      • Re:Flat-Line (Score:5, Insightful)

        by gstoddart (321705) on Thursday July 12, 2012 @04:20PM (#40631737) Homepage

        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: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by jedidiah (1196)

          A computer is not a toaster. It can't be. It's inherently programmable. That's what it's for. A computer is not an appliance, it's a toolbox.

          That's not elitism. That's just the nature of the beast.

          • Re:Flat-Line (Score:5, Insightful)

            by gstoddart (321705) on Thursday July 12, 2012 @05:01PM (#40632145) Homepage

            Sorry, but a computer is a tool. Most of the people who have used them for the last few decades treat it as such.

            That's not elitism. That's just the nature of the beast.

            Then it's time to change the beast, and have us in IT stop acting like pompous asses about the fact that "das blinkenlights are nicht for defingerpoken".

            Apple has been trying to do this at least.

          • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Thursday July 12, 2012 @06:15PM (#40632881) Journal

            A computer is not a toaster. It can't be

            Clearly you never used a first-generation Athlon.

        • by jez9999 (618189)

          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.

          Then either he isn't as intelligent as you make out, or there is something wrong with his hardware.

          Slashdot has this absurd bias that PCs should be magical devices which are reserved for the technology priesthood ... I think that's ridiculous.

          And I think that's a ridiculous characterization of techies' view of PCs. We want PCs to remain general-purpose computing devi

        • by epyT-R (613989)

          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.

          unrealistic...unless your goal is to make a personal computer not a personal computer. I look at it like this: if all the consumer electronics of the future are basically mini computers, and all the intellectual work I do is done on them, I want the final say in the nature of the software for them, otherwise they're not really mine. without that control, my limits are defined by the vendor's software-defined interests and not the limits of the hardware I purchased. your utopian position would prevent me (

      • Re:Flat-Line (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Hatta (162192) on Thursday July 12, 2012 @05:09PM (#40632217) Journal

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

        But we'll lose the economies of scale that have made PCs so cheap. That, and people who "need" a powerful PC are largely professionals, so they will buy expensive business class computers. This will, for lack of a better term, digitally disenfranchise a large fraction of computer users, and make locked down corporate controlled media delivery they only real use case for computers in the future.

      • by hairyfeet (841228)

        Honestly i don't think very many people will give up their PCs at all, here at the shop those with tablets or smartphones also have laptops or desktops.

        No instead what is happening is something we guys in the trenches have been saying for years, and that is computers went past good enough and into insanely overpowered for the average user when multicores became cheap. I mean take my dad for an example, he is probably the perfect use case for the "average PC user" in that he emails, watches videos, uses chat

    • by beelsebob (529313)

      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).

  • Well... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by gabereiser (1662967)
    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 an
    • Re:Well... (Score:5, Informative)

      by Princeofcups (150855) <john@princeofcups.com> on Thursday July 12, 2012 @03:56PM (#40631459) Homepage

      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.

    • In all seriousness, can't you install Windows or Linux on a MacBook Air?
    • Re:Well... (Score:4, Interesting)

      by pubwvj (1045960) on Thursday July 12, 2012 @04:13PM (#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.

    • "Ultra-books" are not sleek looking, nor thin (in most cases).

      Yes they are and yes they are (though I don't have a particular fetish for thinness, myself, just weight).

      This [cnet.co.uk] is a very nice machine, for instance. It's about the same price and weight as the closes Air, but the specs are higher. The build quality is excellent too. Basically you get a better machine for the same money. Runs linux beautifully too. It has amazingly good sound as well.

      In basically every category it beats or matches the Air.

      Ot ther

  • by Drethon (1445051) on Thursday July 12, 2012 @01:42PM (#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.
    • by snowraver1 (1052510) on Thursday July 12, 2012 @03:49PM (#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.
      • by sarysa (1089739)
        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 i
    • by Thelasko (1196535) on Thursday July 12, 2012 @03:50PM (#40631377) Journal
      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.
    • 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...

    • 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.

    • by pegasustonans (589396) on Thursday July 12, 2012 @03:55PM (#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.

    • by gman003 (1693318) on Thursday July 12, 2012 @03:57PM (#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.

    • 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 ju

    • 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 inn
    • 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

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

      Take that!

  • Or maybe: (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 12, 2012 @01:42PM (#40629959)

    We've already all got computers?

    • 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.)

  • So? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Animats (122034) on Thursday July 12, 2012 @03:49PM (#40631365) Homepage

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

    • Re:So? (Score:5, Informative)

      by dc29A (636871) * on Thursday July 12, 2012 @03:57PM (#40631481)

      Why should PC sales be different?

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

    • 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.

  • by rbanzai (596355) on Thursday July 12, 2012 @03:49PM (#40631371)

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

    • by KiloByte (825081)

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

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by mystikkman (1487801)

        Flatline in an EKG means zero electrical activity.

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

  • windows 8 (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Joe_Dragon (2206452) on Thursday July 12, 2012 @03:53PM (#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.

    • by maestroX (1061960)
      I don't think anyone is waiting on Windows 8. Vista is still fresh in the memories and 7 does the job just fine.
    • Many consumers thinking of upgrading will no doubt be holding out until October when Windows 8 is launched, before upgrading their PCs.

      Seems unlikely. Most people I think replace their machines when they (a) break, (b) get so virus infested that they may as well be broken or (c) become too slow for some task that they want to do or run out of space or something like it. I think if you asked the average PC purchaser when the next version of Windows was being released, you might be met with a blank look.

  • by Schwhat (1993980) on Thursday July 12, 2012 @03:53PM (#40631427)
    I think people probably found out that you don't need a super computer to watch porn.
  • Otherwise, my desktop and laptop are around six years old and going strong.
  • Ultrabooks suck (Score:5, Insightful)

    by David Jao (2759) <djao@dominia.org> on Thursday July 12, 2012 @04:04PM (#40631567) Homepage
    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.
    • 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.

      • Re:Ultrabooks suck (Score:5, Insightful)

        by David Jao (2759) <djao@dominia.org> on Thursday July 12, 2012 @05:10PM (#40632225) Homepage

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

        I have a Galaxy Nexus phone. Apple has sued (successfully) to prevent this phone from being sold in the US. I will not financially support a company that attempts to destroy competing products through the legal system. It's true that the patent system in the US is broken and that lots of other companies abuse patents, but Apple takes abuse of the patent system to a whole new level of evil. No other tech company has gone as far as trying (much less succeeding) to outright ban the sale of competing products. Even Oracle in all their evilness did not order Google to stop making Android; they simply said "pay us 6 billion dollars".

        Basically, competition is good. Choice is good. I have no problem with anyone choosing Apple products. But when Apple says Samsung may not sell this phone, I have a huge problem with that. If Apple feels that their patents are being violated, the correct remedy is monetary compensation, not a sales ban.

  • by alen (225700) on Thursday July 12, 2012 @04:07PM (#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

  • Admittedly anecdotal (Score:5, Interesting)

    by 93 Escort Wagon (326346) on Thursday July 12, 2012 @04:18PM (#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.

  • 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.

  • by nurb432 (527695) on Thursday July 12, 2012 @04:20PM (#40631741) Homepage Journal

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

  • 4 PCs in 14 years (Score:5, Informative)

    by Leo Sasquatch (977162) on Thursday July 12, 2012 @04:35PM (#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.
  • by ILongForDarkness (1134931) on Thursday July 12, 2012 @04:45PM (#40632009)

    Computers are cheap enough now that people in the developed and near-developed world already own them. So you just get baseline replacement sales. Developing countries people can't really afford a PC and a tablet/smartphone but they "need" a phone so they just buy the one device and use if for everything. I realize I'm overly generalizing but I'm a physicist +- an order of magnitude and I'm happy :)

  • by neiras (723124) on Thursday July 12, 2012 @05:14PM (#40632271)

    After years and years of using a laptop as my main machine, a year ago I built myself a no-compromise workstation.

    The logic was simple: I realized that when I was out and about with the laptop, I never did much heavy lifting. When I got on the Android bandwagon, the need to use a laptop as a browsing/ssh/mail device just went away.

    Now, when I anticipate being a loser and writing code at Starbucks for a change of scene, I grab one of the cheap netbooks we have lying around, VNC into my desktop, and off I go. Bonus: if it gets stolen, there's nothing of value on it. Double bonus: disapproving glances from Apple users due to the anti-apple stickers on the lid.

    We have a tablet for the coffee table, and it mostly gets used for recipes, Facebook, and controlling XBMC. That's it.

    It's just horses for courses. No one wants a general purpose PC for round-the-house drudgery, people with smartphones don't need laptops to communicate.

    It all seems to come down to two questions. "Do you need a keyboard?" and "Do you need actual CPU power?" For many folks, it seems the answer to both is mostly no.

    I wonder if my kid will ever build a PC.

  • by BLToday (1777712) on Thursday July 12, 2012 @05:36PM (#40632511)

    To the average person the only recent perceptible level of improve comes from SSD, and most computers don't come with SSD. So most people don't buy new machines every 2 or 3 years like they use to. I remember back in the mid '90s to early 2000s, I would be building a new machine every 18 months because the level of performance increase could be seen (Rendition and 3dfx :( RIP) or felt Celeron 300A (oc to 464Mhz). Now, I'm hard press to see real improvement between my old Core 2 Duo and Sandy Bridge computers under daily operations.

    Computers are now just appliances, if it ain't broke they're not going to be replaced.

  • by eepok (545733) on Thursday July 12, 2012 @06:04PM (#40632767) Homepage

    The desktop computer is less disposable than it used to be. Average software resource requirements are not increasing so quickly relative to hardware capabilities as compared to 1995-2005. A computer purchased today with a modern (non-budget) processor, 6+GB of RAM, a $25 low-power discrete video card, and a Blu-ray drive will carry you for multiple years now.

    Just like refrigerators, desktop computers are approaching "appliance" lifespan. This is a good thing for consumers and a secure thing for bearish investors.

  • by DanielRavenNest (107550) on Thursday July 12, 2012 @06:23PM (#40632969)

    The Gartner data shows US sales of 16 million units in the latest quarter. That is 64 million per year. There are 117 million households in the US, and 139 million employed people. So that comes to replacing a computer every 4 years for every home and job in the country. That does not sound like a dire situation, that sounds like a saturated market.

  • Really? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by PopeRatzo (965947) on Thursday July 12, 2012 @07:47PM (#40633759) Homepage Journal

    I'm pretty sure that the lack of growth in PC sales has to do mostly with the fact that nobody has any freaking money. Seriously, it boggles my mind that finance pundits argue over the slow consumer economy when consumers are broke.

    I just read an article about how a huge percentage of consumers in the UK have the equivalent of about $25/week to spend on anything besides necessities. That doesn't leave a lot of room for upgrading the household technology.

    And still, the "serious" people all think the solution is more austerity, because having more broke people is somehow going to stimulate the economy.

  • by JDG1980 (2438906) on Thursday July 12, 2012 @07:53PM (#40633827)

    Yes, a lot of casual users are going to conclude (or already have) that a full-fledged PC is more than they need or can safely handle, and that a tablet makes a better computing platform. For Grandma who only surfs the web and checks her family's Facebook pages, a tablet is a better choice: more intuitive, good enough for the tasks at hand, less likely to catch a worm or virus. It's for more complicated tasks that a PC is required. (My mother, for example, does most of her web-related stuff on the iPad, but she still needs to use a PC to get photos off the camera, edit them, and post listings on eBay – the iPad apps are grossly insufficient for this task.)

    But one thing a lot of people are forgetting in their haste to announce a "post-PC era" is the HUGE installed base of existing systems. Up until about 2006, the PC market was still evolving fast enough that users had to upgrade on a fairly regular basis. An average 2001 PC would be pretty bad at running 2006-vintage applications. But for most home and office users, PCs from the Core 2 Duo era onward have been good enough. They can do all the usual stuff (surfing, email, videos, Office, WoW and other simple games) without too much trouble, and multitask reasonably well since they are multi-core. Given that economic times haven't been that great recently, why would home or business users want to switch out perfectly good hardware that still does what they need? This in no way means that the PCs are going away, just that their upgrade cycle has substantially slowed.

    I do think that the utter low-end of the PC market – the $300 shitboxes formerly epitomized by such stellar brands as Packard Bell and eMachines – is going to go away. And good riddance. Those users will mostly be better off with tablets. But high-end desktops, gaming PCs, and workstations are here to stay.

    It's worth remembering that most of what people here on Slashdot usually actually buy is already niche hardware to some extent. Full ATX motherboards are a niche product. Intel K-series CPUs are a niche product. Discrete graphics cards are a niche product. But despite their low-volume status, we can still get this stuff at fairly reasonable prices. The only exception is the top-end flagships, which are substantially overpriced to lure people with more money than common sense.

  • by Shavano (2541114) on Thursday July 12, 2012 @11:13PM (#40635241)
    subject sez it all.

I'd rather just believe that it's done by little elves running around.

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