Gartner: Windows 8 failed to kick-start PC market

Gartner: Windows 8 failed to kick-start PC market

Summary: The latest report released by research firm Gartner suggests that dwindling PC sales are signalling a turn in the PC market, and Windows 8 has done nothing to stop it.

TOPICS: PCs, Smartphones, Tablets

Research firm Gartner says that an estimated drop of 4.9 percent in worldwide PC sales over the fourth quarter has signalled a shift in the market.

In Q4, PC shipments worldwide fell by an estimated 4.9 percent, according to the research firm. A total of 90.3 million units were sold, but a shift in both consumer habits and the fragile state of the economy played a part in making sure PC manufacturers had little to celebrate as their products were shunned in favor of tablets.

Mikako Kitagawa, principal analyst at Gartner said:

“Tablets have dramatically changed the device landscape for PCs, not so much by ‘cannibalizing’ PC sales, but by causing PC users to shift consumption to tablets rather than replacing older PCs. This transformation was triggered by the availability of compelling low-cost tablets in 2012, and will continue until the installed base of PCs declines to accommodate tablets as the primary consumption device."

Rather than asking for a new PC for Christmas, Gartner says that the plethora of cheap tablets made sure that they replaced PCs as the 'must have' gadget during the holiday season. Although there were a number of cheap notebooks on offer, this did little to excite the Christmas cheer for PC vendors.

However, it may not all be doom and gloom for PC makers. "On the positive side for vendors, the disenfranchised PCs are those with lighter configurations, which mean that we should see an increase in PC average selling prices (ASPs) as users replace machines used for richer applications, rather than for consumption,” Kitagawa said.

Many of us waited to see if Microsoft's new operating system, Windows 8, would have any major impact on PC sales. Gartner says that Windows 8 failed to revitalize the PC market in Q4, mainly due to "lackluster form factors" in PC vendor offerings and a "lack of excitement" which is found in the touch element of tablets.

The research firm also says that HP managed to climb back up to secure the top spot in worldwide PC shipments against rival Chinese firm Lenovo. However, Hewlett-Packard's shipment rate did not change compared to a year ago, whereas Lenovo did experience the best growth rate among the top five PC vendors. Dell came in third place -- although its sales fell by 21 percent year-on-year -- whereas Acer came in fourth with a drop of 11 percent in PC shipments.

gartner pc sales estimates q4 2012

Over 2012, PC shipments reached 352.7 million units, which Gartner says is a 3.5 percent decline based on figures from 2011. HP still retains the top spot overall with a 16 percent marketshare and Lenovo is second with 14.8 percent. However, Asus has shown the highest rate of growth with shipments increasing 17.1 percent.

gartner pc sales estimates q4 2012

Topics: PCs, Smartphones, Tablets

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  • Windows 8 - A Global Extinction Event

    As in Ridley Scott’s “Prometheus” - Microsoft Delivers a Global Extinction Event to Their Own Creation – The X86 PC Industry

    Windows 8 is having quite an effect on already anemic PC sales in this perfect storm of market conditions. Traditional platform C-Suite execs are now pointing their quivering fingers as they give an accounting to their boards. The BODs should really be asking these $highly$ paid suits why they’ve kept doubling down on Microsoft this long in full view of the past 24 month global migration off the MS platform. Perhaps they were counting on some sort of “great awakening” of global PC sales ignited by the advent of another stellar version of Windows. Now that's living in denial.

    Here's some Americana to help illustrate.

    EXIT-X86 Windows 8 Prison Blues
    Max Fountain
    • Delusional much?

      "24 month global migration off the MS platform"... you do realize how well MS's servers and tools division is doing, right? Your comment seems to be talking about the business world, which is NOT going anywhere.
      • Re: you do realize how well MS's servers and tools division is doing, right

        Peanuts compared to their Windows and Office businesses.
      • You do realize

        Linux is the #1 server platform worldwide right?

        MS is fine for small shops and those heavy with the PC but the real work gets done on *NIX.

        As companies get squeezed for $$, the large sums of $$ they send to Redmond will be suspect.
        • Re: Linux is the #1 server platform worldwide right?

          #1 in servers, #1 in mobile, #1 in embedded ... #1 everywhere except the traditional desktop PC.

          Which, coincidentally, is the only part of the computer business actually shrinking.
          • I don't believe you are correct on the embedded side.

            Typically the majority of embedded applications (autos, appliances, instrumentation, pacemakers and 100s of other applications where embedded micro-controllers are used) are still running 8-16 bit controllers with insufficient memory to handle Linux. These either use a very light weight RTOS or nothing at all. Even ARM micro-controllers (for example, cortex M series) typically don't run Linux as they may have 1 MByte of RAM memory on chip and run at clockspeeds of 200 Mhz or less. Usually an RTOS is provided.
        • You've been saying that for a long long time

          Companies still send large sums of money to IBM, HP, Dell, Red Hat etc even for Linux. And increasingly companies are signing on to Cloud providers like Amazon, Microsoft and others to handle the hosting for them
    • Someone needs to leave his home theater room from time to time.

      Windows 8 does nothing to change the fact that the PC and Windows are still the primary tools pretty much the entire world uses to accomplish productivity tasks. Not everyone sits at home on a couch twiddling Facebook on a phone or tablet.

      Windows 8 an "extinction event"? Outside the "Metro" UI, it's an improvement over Windows 7 in every way. If Microsoft would back down and restore the start menu in a service pack, Windows 8 would easily stop Windows 7 from becoming the next XP (which is to say the main reason for corporate upgrade hesitation would be removed).

      As for Windows 8 not sparking the traditional PC industry, I'm not sure why anyone really thought it would. The industry is suffering from a several issues, none of which Windows 8 could really address:

      -PC performance with multi-core CPUs have vastly exceeded most people's needs. I work in computer graphics, and the (admittedly high-end) system I built nearly 5 years ago is still handling all my needs. I may build a new system later this year, but even that wouldn't be absolutely necessary. The fact is that any system purchased in the past 4 to 5 years still handles the vast majority of the needs of the vast majority of the people.

      -Current popularity of simple content consumption devices. If someone's PC still handles their productivity needs, they're more likely to purchase a tablet to handle their less than productivity needs - in many ways, the addition of a tablet lets people do more, or at least more comfortably, than replacing a perfectly functioning PC.

      -Continued economic pressures. As nice as these new form factors in both all-in-ones and UltraBooks are, they're very expensive and have come when most people are still guarding their finances pretty closely.

      Unfortunately, Windows 8 does (and really can't) do anything to effect those issues. For desktop users, the new UI doesn't provide any measurably improvement. Perhaps if/when the Windows Store is full of compelling apps, people might have a reason to venture into Metro land, but as it stands, everyone I know who's tried/upgraded has spent a few days to a week playing with Metro, installed a start menu replacement and now boots directly to their desktop avoiding Metro all together.

      Metro has potential, and Microsoft certainly has the finances to wait it out, but at present, Metro is woefully lacking in any compelling reason for people to use it. But as I said, Windows 8 is otherwise an excellent operating system in every conceivable way.
      • Metro UI needs to be Bypassable as well

        "If Microsoft would back down and restore the start menu in a service pack"

        They also need to add a first-time-boot option to allow PC owners to bypass Metro UI all together and never have it show up again.
        Asok Smith
        • Agreed...

          Basically, they should implement all the features of Start8 - return the start menu and add options to boot direct to the desktop and disable the touch-based navigation features - the corners/sides/charms bar. My desktop is a desktop, not a tablet, and I'll never touch the screen of my $1200 30 inch IPS monitor, nor will I use apps that insist on hogging my entire screen just to totally waste 90% of the available screen space.

          Leave the Metro UI there as an option or even installed by default and not removable. Continue to develop it, enhance it, make it a better all around UI, but for heaven's sake, give me the option to configure my system to best suit my productivity needs.

          I have my doubts that they'll actually do any of this, but it would be in their best interest. I honestly like Windows 8... after having purchased Start8. Someone else said on the comments of another article that this is the first time since Windows 3.1 that users in significant numbers have had to turn to 3rd party shell programs to get the functionality they wanted. I remember using Norton Desktop and other Program Manager replacements on Win 3.1. I don't think anyone back then would have imagined that, decades later, Windows users would still have to turn to 3rd party programs to fill basic UI functionality needs.

          I know some have found Metro fills their needs just fine, and that's really great, but it doesn't for enough people that it serves as a pretty glaring blemish on what is otherwise a very polished and compelling OS.
          • which is why

            I am a Old School MCSE and with all things considered Redmond has not offered anything with actual proof in the pudding since XP Pro and Server 2003. I just purchased parts and built another XP Pro machine and it flies. Lets see its a PC with PC Software and not parts with Cell phone software.........
          • Yes and XP is 32 bit

            except for the failed XP 64 bit that 3 users still use. PC software is and has been moving to 64 bit. Soon 32 bit will be left in the dust.
      • Re: pretty much the entire world uses to accomplish productivity tasks.

        Except there are only about a billion PCs in active use, versus over 6 billion people in the world.

        So if there's one thing we can say about "pretty much the entire world", it is that it has never heard of Microsoft Windows.
        • There's also another

          If pretty much the entire world hasn't heard of Microsoft Windows, what does that say about OSX and Linux?
          Michael Alan Goff
          • uh..nothing...

            except that you like to make excuses.
            The Danger is Microsoft
        • Of the 7 billion alive, 2 billion are in poverty and could care less...

          and the 1 billion who DO use computers for productive purposes are First and Second World citizens. Those 1 billion PCs make the world function as it does. The remaining 4 billion get along doing work not requiring a computer, or work for those who do use computers, in manufacturing, agriculture, transportation, services, etc, or are elderly, or are young and may have smartphones or tablets (at the higher end of the 4 billion) instead of PCs. Many or most of those 4 billion probably see PCs per se as a luxury item not directly relevant to their survival.

          That aside, and ignoring a small number of great tablet productivity apps, most tech and creative and business work IS done on PCs - either MS or OSX or *NIX. Whether MS will get its head out of the sand and restore the standard interface most businesses need/want is to be seen. I have not been impressed with Steve Ballmer at all, either his business decisions or his management style or his persona.
          Too-Tired Techie
          • Yes. While I have no desire

            to purchase MS products or for MS to even survive I agree. Frankly, I hope MS continues to ignore the loud complaints and does nothing.
            The Danger is Microsoft
      • Your assesment boarders on perfection.

        Your points, one after another are right on the money.

        -most of the primary productivity tasks in the entire world are still to this day accomplished on a Windows based PC.

        -why would anyone think Windows 8 would suddenly spark up vast new sales in the PC industry. People look at PC much like appliances these days and for years now both PC hardware, and PC operating systems since XP have been so robust and reliable that its simply a case where new PC's are not purchased anywhere near as often in the past.

        -if people have a few dollars to spend on something "new" and their PC still works fine, they feel free to spend those dollars on fun new mobile devices as opposed to going out and purchasing a new PC that they dont even need yet.

        -Windows 8 is generally a great new OS, but there is certainly some backlash against the Metro UI for standard PC and laptop users.

        All these things you have said have facts supporting them and I myself have been saying much the same for ages. So many things about the PC marketplace and industry itself can be far more accurately explained and understood and made real sense of, if one starts their thinking with the very facts in mind you have brought up.

        The reason why the haters seem to come up with absolutely irrelevant and ludicrous points is largely because they want to perceive reality in a completely different light. Such as, "PC sales are down because nobody uses Windows anymore because the world has finally figured out that Windows is crap". Yet, one walks into any home or workplace that was using a Windows computer 3-4 years ago, and there you have it; people still using Windows computers EXACTLY the same as always before.

        The haters explanations are vastly out of whack with reality, we know this as a fact because people are still using PC's pretty much the same as before the first smartphones came along. On the other hand, the explanation you speak of fits reality much like a glove.

        All people have to do to start making a little more sense around here is just to work with the facts and set aside their hate.
        • Dude...

          being an armchair sociologist does not work for you. Microsoft needs to figure out what to do; something, anything; you are not helping them.
          The Danger is Microsoft
    • Sure, Max. Sure

      You're the one that's living in denial, not anyone else.

      I.m guessing you just threw that pretty lame song and video together yourself
      (don't answer that - I'd be embarrassed to answer that)

      William Farrel