Mobile PC market suffers worst Q2 performance in over a decade: IHS

Mobile PC market suffers worst Q2 performance in over a decade: IHS

Summary: The mobile PC market has suffered the worst second quarter performance since the aftermath of the crash.


Groaning under the pressure from smartphones and tablets, the mobile PC market delivered the worst second-quarter performance in 11 years, according to data released by analytics firm IHS.

See also: Is the post-PC industry headed for premature stagnation?

According to the report, worldwide mobile PC shipments during the second quarter contracted by 6.9 percent compared to the first three months of the year. This is the first time the industry has seen a sequential decline since the second quarter of 2002, where mobile PC shipments shrank by 3.7 percent after the bust quelled global demand.

Crunching the numbers even further, IHS noted that during the 10 years between those two low points, the mobile PC space always strengthened during the second quarter as shipments recovered from a normally soft start to the year. Excluding 2002 and this year, the usual growth during this period for the intervening years ranged from a low of 0.5 percent to a high of 6.5 percent. Even during the second quarter of last year the market showed a 3.9 percent increase for the period.

"Representing devices such as traditional notebook PCs as well as the new thinner ultrathin/Ultrabook laptops, the mobile PC industry on the whole is struggling to find any momentum for growth as upheavals rock the market," said Craig Stice, senior principal analyst for compute platforms at IHS in a statement to ZDNet.

"In particular, more nimble devices like media tablets have taken over among consumers given their ease of use and unique form factor. Meanwhile, innovation in PCs has stagnated, and the recent influx of low-cost tablets has further eaten into an already decimated mobile PC space. With such dire numbers, many are wondering whether this signifies the start of more record declines for mobile PCs, or if the industry has hit rock-bottom."

But it's not all bad news for the PC industry, with IHS believing that a PC refresh buying cycle is more than likely to occur.

"Despite the broad appeal of media tablets, the devices won’t be able to fully replace PCs, and consumers will continue to need the computational power of personal computers," Stice said. "If a new low-cost PC offering strong performance can become available on the market and meet consumer expectations, then PCs could be set for more growth—not like the glory days of the 2000s—but growth nonetheless."

But even this silver lining has a cloud, with IHS pointing out that 2013 is "very likely a write-off at this point" because "it’s too late given the depressed first-half results that any positive expansion could occur in both the mobile PC segment and the overall PC market."

Topic: PCs

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  • Get used to it...

    I smell a shakeout coming. Manufacturers need to get used to the fact that the PC market will never be what it once was. Simpler, cheaper, ubiquitous internet connected mobile devices like tablets and smartphones have obviated the need for full-featured computers for many consumers. At the very least, these devices mean that there is no need for several computers at home, and likely no need to upgrade the old standby machine sitting mostly unused in the home-office.

    Sure, there will always be a market for desktops, laptops, notebooks and subnotebooks. But that market is now largely relegated to business professionals, academics and engineers who need a full fledged computing platform for productive work. I'd wager that for 80-90% of the public, a PC is needed only for printing out boarding passes and school assignments.

    That's what the era of post-PC means.

    I'm not going to get into a long and drawn out, pointless, argument over whether it's possible to do "real work" on an iPad. Instead I'll just note that, outside the office, most people don't need to do "real work."
    • I agree with your last paragraph

      Some of us don't want to buy 2 devices, one for play, one for real work. We don't want to take both devices everywhere we go or risk choosing the wrong device when we go. I laugh at people who think they are mobile while discussing what backpack is best for carrying their laptop, their tablet, and their tablet peripherals like big bulky keyboard cases. I wish I was making that up but James Kendrick did exactly that.

      Convergence devices are where it is at. Right now, the best convergence devices are those running Windows 8, something an ipad cannot do.
      • windows has all the baggage of legacy

        with none of the benefits of the newer platforms - ios/android. Developers have been flocking to these platforms for good reason and the results show.

        windows is the past ( it should never even have been that but that is another story).
      • I don't think convergence devices are where its at

        Light, cheap tablets are.

        The the windows 8 based convergence device may or may not be a good device depending on your perspective, but its is a niche device. Not having to deal with the overhead of full windows is the big plus for the average person.

        The desktop UI is simply not appropriate on a small (or any) touchscreen. Hence any advantage of windows is lost and is just "baggage" that wastes power, slows it down and requires "administration" (antivirus, scans, slow intrusive updates, etc).

        Windows 8 hybrid devices will not be hugely popular like the iPad.
        • does a light, cheap windows 8 tablet have the qualities ...

          ... to become a mainstream device? I think it does, my kids use it just as easily as ipad, they never go to the

          now pair that tablet with an optional keyboard a la James Kendrick's favorite HP envy x2 and you get a mainstream device that is also a convergence device
          • Re: light, cheap windows 8 tablet

      • Symmetry

        "Some of us don't want to buy 2 devices, one for play, one for real work."

        I don't. I do both on an iPad.

        "Convergence devices are where it is at. Right now, the best convergence devices are those running Windows 8, something an ipad cannot do"

        There are some excellent convergence devices running MacOS. Something that Microsoft's Surface can't do.
        Henry 3 Dogg
    • not just consumers

      Many small businesses are switching to tablets. Many retail operations, media companies, realtors, field agents with all sorts of businesses (medical, insurance, scientists etc) prefer tablets for obvious reasons. Even in the general corporate world of stuffed offices, only some IT staff need PCs- most people as consumers of IT services can work with tablets.

      And OEMs have already recognized this, which is why so many are now producing android tablets/notebook hybrids and chromebooks.

      Desktops/laptops will soon be a niche market, as 'high-end workstations' once were.
    • Agreed

      Ultra-portable, always on, always internet connected devices are where it is at. But I guess it's how you look at it. Is the move from PC to tablet/phone/wearables a true "paradigm shift" like VHS to DVD or is it s simple evolution? Past shifts would suggest that once a critical user mass or acceptable functionality level of the new technology is reached the change happens quite rapidly. IMHO we are at that point.

      I think convergence devices are like strapping a VHS player to a DVD player, sure they were popular for a bit then they were relegated to curiosities on the store shelves.
    • The laptop is now a superfluous device for most users

      Unless, that is, the laptop is the only "desktop" you own. Much of what most people used their laptops for is now taken over by the tablet as a "supplementary" device to the desktop. With its true mobility capabilities and the fact that you don't have to set it down to use it, the tablet allows data entry on the go for tasks such as inventory, sales and media services. Once that data is entered, most systems now have the ability to directly transfer that data to the desktop--eliminating the need for a "portable desktop".

      However, the desktop in one form or another is still necessary in most homes to carry on with those more extensive tasks that the tablet cannot perform. As such, I expect to see new growth in the desktop market while the 'portable' segment shrinks in favor of 'mobile' devices.
      • I haven't owned a desktop in years

        My laptop is my desktop. That being said, I agree with the rest of your post.
    • Real Work on tablet

      Agreed + there's more and more apps re-designing how to do real work on tablet.

      Mobile form solution
  • What is their definition of a mobile PC?

    Let me guess, based on what I have read:
    A mobile PC is a computer with a fixed keyboard hinge and a battery.

    So a Windows 8 computing device with a Core i5, a touch screen, and a fixed hinge is a mobile PC.

    A Windows 8 computing device with a Core i5, a touch screen, and a hinge that detaches or swivels is not.

    This is how ridiculous these statistics are.
    • Great

      "A Windows 8 computing device with a Core i5, a touch screen, and a hinge that detaches or swivels is not. .... This is how ridiculous these statistics are."

      Great. So let's call all personal computing devices computers.

      Then Apple sells more computers running OSX/iOS, than Microsoft sells copies of Windows.

      That's a statistic that you Windows PC fanboys usually prefers to run away from.
      Henry 3 Dogg
  • I simply don't think the average consumers even need PCs anymore.

    Many businesses do of course but a lot of them are still happy on XP, or 7. I think it is all bad news for the traditional PC/laptop market. It does seem like there are lot more macs though, plus the chromebook seems to be showing promise.
  • Fault of intel/m$

    Their response to declining sales was to raise prices exorbitantly and try marketing gimmicks such as ultra-whatever. They are still pushing this nonsense through the sales channels. Microsoft is also selling devices on its own, at high prices, removing the OEM profit margins. This is bound to make it less attractive for OEMs to even push wintel products.

    IMO, just to retain their current market, they will have to start offering more (such as touch screens, higher resolution screens, SSD) for less. This will also mean that intel/microsoft will have to live with less margins and revenue, something that is unlikely to happen.
  • Low-cost tablets will come to dominate many use cases

    Now that tablets are becoming more and more affordable (HP 7" down to $140, e.g.), the simple economics of the situation is going to drive seismic shifts in usage patterns. It takes time to re-tool a business process, but bet your bottom dollar that handing employees low-cost tablets (vs. laptops, or hybrid devices) is going to become a completely normal system architecture, and is going to continue to drive down mobile PC (and even desktop) sales for some time, till a new equilibrium is reached.
  • Tablets often outspec notebooks costing 4x as much

    Just bought an Ainol Novo 9 Spark 9.7" tablet. It has an A31 quad core ARM CPU, an 8 core PowerVR GPU, a 2048x1536 high resolution display and runs Android 4.1. True it doesn't have bluetooth or GPS but it only cost me $250 plus shipping. Try getting that kind of \resolution on the average $1,000 Ultrabook. They still think (wrongly) that 1366x768 is workable screen resolution.

    I have a notebook and I use it a lot. But I now read the morning newspaper and do many other things on my tablet.

    Point is, I no longer recommend notebooks for people who just want to consume media 'cause I don't want to support Windows 8. I also don't want to support Windows PCs that get crapware (like Conduit) because many software publishers think that distributing crapware with software updates (Oracle with Java, and sometimes Adobe) is good for business.
  • Decline in sales

    There is an 800-pound gorilla in the room that prevents MANY users from purchasing. It's called Windows 8. I made the mistake of trying one myself. Dell won't even take it back - it's that bad. On top of the poor operating system, they let M$soft embed itself in the bios to prevent you from loading Windows 7 on the same PC. What a joke on us. Plus they won't even provide a workaround or even drivers for Windows 7. You only really have one other choice - it's called Linux, which WILL get around the Microsoft bullies.
    • The secure BIOS BOOT

      You should be able to disable the secure BOOT on a laptop or desktop.

      The only devices which were not "supposed" to let people disable secure boot are the Win 8 RT devices. They won't run Win 7 anyway.