According to the latest forecast by Gartner Inc. PC shipments are set to see higher growth over the next two years, with 2012 hopefully witnessing shipments increasing by 4.4 per cent.
PC sales have been weak over the past few years, with the loss of momentum attributed in-part to issues in component supply, such as hard disk shortages caused by the recent floods in Thailand, however primarily, poor sales have been attributed to the change in consumer dynamics, with an ever increasing focus on portable computing.
Tablets are the primary market up-setter, with their trend to continue with the arrival of more powerful tablets, Android 5.0 and Windows 8 later this year, however, it's hoped that the uptake of Windows 8 on new Ultrabooks will help to attract consumers back towards the PC market and, as Microsoft demonstrated at its unveiling of the Windows 8 Consumer Preview, system manufacturers are doing their best to rejuvenate PC designs with new approaches to touch-screen, gestures, NFC and simply more attractive form factors.
Gartner believes that, to what extent the PC market can recover lost ground, will come down to just how well new systems will be able to re-excite punters and how well these products are able to differentiate themselves from tablet offerings.
“Moreover, we expect the shift to the personal cloud will also accelerate as consumers increasingly adopt cloud-based services as part of their digital ecosystem,” stated Mr. Atwal, research director at Gartner. “The evolution of the personal cloud will challenge vendors across all mobile devices markets and add to the hurdles for PC vendors to overcome to revive the PCs and differentiate them from tablets. The creation of content capabilities of PCs may not be enough to counteract the better content consumption capabilities of media tablets.”
We can certainly understand Gartner's concern, however, if you took an Ultrabook, such as the recently announced 20mm-thick Acer Timeline Ultra M3 and, added the ability to rotate the screen, we could certainly see the appeal, a system able to play modern games at high settings, DVD playback, instant-on with up to an 8-hour battery life, a keyboard paired with fully-functional x86 Windows yet with tablet-like functionality and there's a compelling product right there. Given that in the future we may also see Kinect interfaces and NFC on Ultrabooks, we suspect they'll play a highly competitive role in the market towards the end of this year and throughout 2013.
“Emerging markets are key to driving worldwide PC growth in both the short and long-term, and our expectation is that 2012 and then 2013 onwards will be supported by growth in emerging markets as their share increases from just over 50 percent in 2011 to nearly 70 percent in 2016,” said Mr. Atwal. “Emerging markets have very low PC penetration and even with the availability of other devices we still expect a steady uptake of PCs."