Every year, when IDC releases its data on the ever declining state of PC sales, the usual suspects come out of the woodwork to decry the death of the PC. This years stats, which are possibly the grimmest in a while, certainly make for depressing reading if the PC is part of your job description – the only PC vendor to increase sales was Apple, while stalwarts such a Dell, HP, Asus, and Acer all experienced drops of at least six per cent or more.
There’s a lot of reasons for things to slow down – China’s boom is slowing, for instance, and that has immense impact. And there’s the growing salient that mobile devices are making in the traditional PC market.
But the lack of sales doesn’t mean that PCs are any less relevant. The truth is that PCs are lasting longer – there hasn’t been a really compelling, game-changing technology release in the last couple of years. A machine bought only a few years ago will still be able to do everything its newer brethren can – so why upgrade?
Well, that last question is actually a little disingenous – a lot of people are in fact upgrading, but they’re not upgrading in whole units, and they’re probably not buying from the big manufacturers.
We know this thanks to data released by Intel, which is very pleased with record sales of its new 14nm-based high-end CPUs. Chips like the unlocked K SKUs are more popular than ever before. Of course, lower-end processor sales are down.
So what does this tell us?
For one, it shows that people are placing a premium on what the PC does best – deliver powerful performance that simply cannot be matched by other devices. And since those K SKUs have been heavily marketed at gamers, it suggests that PC gaming is alive and well, and not at all affected by the downturn facing more corporate builders.
But it also hints that those enthusiast users are more and more likely to look elsewhere for their hardware; instead of getting a high-end PC from Dell, they’re more likely to go to a smaller builder, like a Scorptec or PC Case Gear. It’s not a long bow to pull to imagine that a lot of those K SKUs were bought up by home builders. Neither of these avenues of PC growth are tracked by the likes of Gartner or IDC.
So don’t let the decline of the likes of Dell and HP get you down. The PC is definitely not in any danger.