HP's Whitman says desktop PCs aren't dead. Did she miss the memo?

Summary:Actually, Meg, despite your optimism, they may well be.

whitman
Image: HP

From the "famous last words" department, apparently.

HP chief executive Meg Whitman on CNBC on Wednesday morning discussed the company's tablet strategy alongside its traditional desktop and notebook product range. Quick to point out that the company's business and enterprise business has a "tremendously strong lineup," she was also reluctant to call time on the traditional PC.

"We can go all the way from virtual desktop to workstations to desktops... by the way, desktops are not dead... to laptops to hybrids to tablets for the commercial enterprise," she said. 

Granted, PCs aren't yet dead but they are frail and dying. A quick look at the latest PC shipments statistics from research firm IDC almost says it all. 

HP holds second place in the worldwide PC shipments market, according to third-quarter figures. Shipping 13 million desktops and notebooks during the quarter, the company saw only 0.4 percent growth year-over-year.

It's no calamity on an Acer or Asus scale by any standards, which lost almost one-quarter of their market share year-over-year. But it's still not a rosy picture as the worldwide PC market declined by almost 8 percent.

Another missive from the research firm warned not to expect any significant recovery in the near future. 

New figures published in early December suggested the PC market will decline even further by 10.1 percent, down from the previous projection of 9.7 percent.

Bottom line: it's not looking good for the PC market. We've known it for a while, and in spite of the warnings and the advice, HP is sticking to its guns.

Although the overall PC market is sinking regardless of customer class, HP remains first or second place in the overall commercial PC space in every region it operates in. Not wanting to neglect its consumer roots, Whitman touted the company's bid to attack the middle-ground.

"All tablet, all laptop," she said, describing a new all-in-one laptop. "You can take the screen off. You can work with a regular keyboard. Or you can take the screen off and sit back and watch a movie on the airplane."

For HP, its hopes and dreams for a PC market recovery are naive at best. At the time when former chief executive Leo Apotheker wanted to spin out the PC business, it's now with the benefit of hindsight wasn't such a bad, pre-emptive strike.

Considering the company's PC business takes up about one-quarter of its revenue, the PC maker will have to reconsider exactly where the unit stands in the coming quarters.

You can watch the full segment on CNBC.

Topics: PCs

About

Zack Whittaker writes for ZDNet, CNET, and CBS News. He is based in New York City.

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