Something new is coming to the PC industry: Growth

But growth will be slow and only affect thin and light devices

There's something new coming in the PC market: growth! Sales volumes have hit bottom, and will start to pick up from next year, say analysts at Gartner.

Growth won't be fast -- just 0.4 percent next year, and perhaps 3 percent the year after -- but it will mark a change from the 8 percent drop in unit sales Gartner is forecasting for this year.

Sales of basic laptops and desktops will continue to shrink, from 216 million this year to 199 million in 2018, said Gartner research director Ranjit Atwal: The growth -- from 49 million this year to 75 million in 2018 -- will all be in the expensive premium ultramobiles category. That's good news for vendors' bottom lines, if not for IT budgets.

In 2020, he forecasts, fewer than 30 million desktops will be sold: About one for every 100 internet users on the planet, in case you were in any doubt that this is an increasingly mobile world.

Gartner defines premium ultramobiles as thin and light laptops -- a category defined by the MacBook Air -- or hybrid devices like the Surface Pro (tablets with removable keyboards). They typically run Windows or MacOS on an Intel processor and are capable of replacing a standard PC.

Even Apple's new iPad Pro gets relegated, with the rest of the tablets, to what Gartner calls basic (branded) or utility (white label) ultramobiles. That market is declining faster even than PC sales -- down 10 percent since last year -- although Gartner expects it to stabilize at around 173 million in 2017 and 2018.

The iPad Pro is not managing to break through in the business environment, Atwal said. "Users still want higher-performing Windows-based devices." Despite its large screen and stylus, the iPad Pro "is still more of a content consumption device," he added.

And business users' needs are what matter: The consumer market for laptops is still in decline, he said, which is bad news for the PC makers like Asustek Computer (Asus) that do most of their business there.

Asus isn't the only one suffering, though: NEC sold almost all of its PC activities in July to Lenovo, which is now considering buying the PC business of another Japanese company, Fujitsu.

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags PC

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Peter Sayer

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Essentials

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive

Learn more >

Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop

Learn more >

Mobile

Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Exec

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards 

Learn more >

HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive 

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?