back to article OK - who just bought a biz PC? Oh wait, none of you did

A revival in fortunes for desktop makers evaporated this summer as shipments across Western Europe collapsed. In each country across the region, sales out through distributors declined in July and August compared to the same months a year earlier. The latest stats show Finland reported the steepest decline, down nearly 23 per …

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  1. EddieD

    And they won't come back.

    My phone now accounts for about half of my web use, my humongous desktop now resigned to being a games machine. I was going to use it as a file server, but a cheap and cheerful Synology NAS box now does that rôle - for half the juice.

    My next machine was going to be either a laptop or HTPC, but I'm thinking that a tablet may be enough.

    Since I work in computer support I've got mixed emotions - okay, I'm going to be on the dole, but on the upside, I'll get to make the niggly, whiny, insistent calls and demand an immediate answer to a problem that hasn't bothered me for two weeks but must be FIXED NOW!

    Anyone looking for a cleaner or similar?

    1. Gerhard Mack
      FAIL

      they came back in my office

      Not long ago one of my co workers sold my boss on the tablet concept and he went out and bought a tablet for everyone in the office. Once he tried his for a bit he discovered he didn't like it so he replaced it with another and then another. Now he has tried tablets from pretty much ever vendor and guess what he uses? None of them. He went back to his desktop machine and got a netbook for when he is travelling. None of my co workers use their tablets much anymore, they all went back to their desktops.

      When you need to do a lot of data entry you really need a keyboard and if you spend hours on your computer you really need a desktop since it's more ergonomic. Personally I have a home PC, a work PC, A notebook for when I'm on the road and a smart phone to look things up if I'm on the train or bus(well that and play games/ listen to music while I commute).

      1. Maryland, USA
        Thumb Down

        Re: they came back in my office

        laptop + docking station > desktop

        My home setup: four 1920x1200 LCDs (2x2) and an external keyboard, all driven by a ThinkPad W500. Hell, I don't even use a dock anymore; three of the monitors are driven through DVI-to-USB adapters connected to USB 3.0 Expresscard.

      2. chr0m4t1c

        Re: they came back in my office

        The article says that businesses aren't buying desktops, not that they're buying tablets.

        I haven't had a traditional desktop machine in over ten years now, the company I worked for (and the one I work for now) realised that as laptops provided sufficient power for most people in the organisation and that they offered some useful benefits, then it was a good idea to change the default PC to be a laptop. It was (is) still possible to get a desktop, but they're more-or-less only given to developers and people with specific needs (e.g. huge amounts of local storage for video work).

        Benefits?

        In the event of a power failure you don't immediately lose anything you're working on (not a significant problem for most, but was a monthly occurrence in one building I worked from).

        If you have a VPN solution your workforce can operate anywhere there is an internet connection (home, customer site, emergency site, other office location, etc.).

        When your technical people go to another site they retain access to their desktop and all of their tools that they are familiar with and have spent years configuring just they way they want them, so they are more effective.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Could it be because?

    A lot of current business PCs do what's needed from them, so apart from asset replacement there's no real compelling reason to upgrade?

    The company I'm currently at are still churning through a massive app verification program in preparation for the move to Windows 7 from XP. THEN they'll be splurging big time on a few thousand new PCs...

    1. Christian Berger

      Re: Could it be because?

      Well between the late 1990s and the mid 2000s the quality of business PCs has greatly improved. Back in the early 2000s problems with capacitors or just bad designs were common. Computers either didn't last very long, or had reliability problems right from the start. Also with the PIII and PIV CPUs needed insane amounts of power.

      However much of the PCs which are now in (sane) offices are from the time after that, when PCs were reliable and efficient. Further more since Microsoft refuses to publish newer versions of Windows XP, many businesses stay at that, at least for a while.

      Businesses which have switched to Linux don't have any reason to switch to new hardware.

      Business hardware just was to good over the last few years.

    2. ArmanX

      Re: Could it be because?

      I've wondered that as well; processor speed climbed sharply from 2000 to 2003 or so, then leveled off; RAM has gotten a lot cheaper, but most office machines don't need more than 2-4 gigabytes. Sure, technology continues, but basic office software runs just as well on a mid-range computer from 2004 as it does on a cheap computer today. Obviously, more specialized stuff like drafting or graphics work will need newer machines, but if all you have is Word, Excel, and Outlook, you probably don't even need anything beyond a cheap dual core processor. So why upgrade, or even buy new?

      Another pallet of your finest 2006, please...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Go

        One clear answer

        Phone/computer convergence. Apply Moore's law and in two to three years time a £300 phone will have enough power to do all the above and a ten hour battery life to boot.

        My theory is that in 2015 Windows 9 and WP9 will merge codebases and introduce dual-size software. You'll plug your confidential business phone into an inductive charging dock wherever you are and start work with a mouse and 22" monitor-no need to download any important documents. Or into a lapdock for power use on the move.

        1. Paw Bokenfohr

          Re: One clear answer

          Yes, but, it'll be 2018 rather than 2015, and "WinX"

      2. jason 7
        Facepalm

        Re: Could it be because?

        Spot on.

        For 99% of business users a 2006 spec dual core PC with 2Gb of ram will do all the Office 2000/2003/2007/2010/2013 work you'd ever need.

        Its not about folks not wanting desktops because they are crap. It's just that PC technology hit a plateau for many several years ago. It's been game over for desktop PC churn since dual cores came along.

        Laptops only stay in there because they generally don't last as long as an old Dell desktop that never moves (if most business laptop owners were honest most of them don't move either).

        However, tech pundits refuse to mention that because their job relies on getting people to buy flashy crap they don't need.

        1. ArmanX

          Re: Could it be because?

          I would argue that laptops are bigger sellers because they are so far behind desktops - they have to wait until processors are smaller and less power hungry, RAM is higher density, and hard drives are smaller before the price makes it worthwhile. When there is new technology for the desktop (say, 1 TB drives, or 8GB RAM), it takes two years before it's even available for laptops, and another three before the price is even roughly equivalent. A mid-range 2006 desktop is probably on equal footing with a mid-range 2012 laptop, but for half the original price.

  3. Colin Millar
    Black Helicopters

    Dear editor

    Has anyone else noticed the uncanny resemblance between this article and the standard "Analyst" press release template from the the first module of marketing 101 - "Get hysterical and stay hysterical" (apols to J Irving)

    .... decline in desktop PC sales blah blah...notebooks have the same power as the majority of desktops.....blah blah...gadgets can be personalised by biz users - said Nauseous - a desperate marketing bod who isn't getting her bonus this year.

    She added " notebook shipments in July and August fell 15.2 per cent so clearly I am talking bollocks - please give me my blue pill as I am feeling quite dizzy - the blood is rushing through my ears making a curious popping noise - oh look that cloud looks like a doggy shagging another doggy - why are you putting that jacket with long floppy arms on me - isn't that a muzz...."

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
      Headmaster

      Re: Dear editor

      Nausica is a very nice name, though it generally is written as Nausicaa!

    2. IFonly

      Re: Dear editor

      At last.. a "sane" response to a very silly story.

  4. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

    Mobile

    If someone in my office will tell me he can do all work on mobile/ipad he will be fired. Either he would be lying or he'd be doing bugger all - both good enough reasons for letting him go...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Mobile

      Directors and top executives are hard to fire. They are a very large market for the latest iShinyShiny.

      If they "need" to replace the laptop they didn't use to its fullest with a tablet we can't tell them no. Curious how it must be from Apple as well.

      And then we get complaints that iTunes has been disabled.

      IT: "That's organisation policy. What do you need on it?"

      Suit: "Odds and ends. Handy tools and stuff."

      IT: "let us know what you need and if Change Control are OK with it, we can deal with this."

      Suit: "Never mind."

  5. Irongut

    notebooks have the same power as the majority of desktops

    Not for the same price they don't.

    1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      Re: notebooks have the same power as the majority of desktops

      They don't have the same screen sizes either, or keyboards.

      Ergonomically, laptops suck unless you *do* actually need to carry them about.

      1. ArmanX

        Re: notebooks have the same power as the majority of desktops

        That's not entirely true - a laptop in a dock with dual screens, a keyboard, and a mouse is exactly as ergonomic as a desktop. In fact, it's exactly like a desktop in every way, apart from the fact that you've just bought an expensive dock and a laptop for twice what a desktop costs...

  6. Will Godfrey Silver badge
    Meh

    I haven't bought a computer for about 3 years, simply because both of mine in daily use (and the netbook) are more than adequate for my needs. They are more than fast enough for what I do - and one is used as a DAW - better screen resolution than my eyes (apart from the netbook) and less than half the HD space used.

    Why should I think about changing?

  7. jubtastic1

    Recession

    You don't need to buy new PC's when the store rooms are filling up with them as the employee count goes down, and where there is a pressing need to upgrade a workstation one of those recently shelved PC's will often fit the bill.

    1. Peter2 Silver badge

      Re: Recession

      This. If all of my in use computers died in a lightning strike or some such disaster then I could replace entire offices worth of computers from stores. They wouldn't be upgrades though, obviously all of the decent equipment is in use.

      Another point is that Misco have just realised that I exist and have started sending me catalogs. Flicking through it, the interesting bit was the offer on refurbed duel core PC's at ~£80 with a legit XP license.

      If I had a thousand to spend at the moment (which we haven't) given a choice between:-

      1) a dozen duel core win XP refurbs to replace my slowest machines or;

      2) Three new win7 boxes (which i'd then have to test all of our apps for, with the risk some may not work)

      Then to be honest at the moment the dozen XP refurbs is by far the most attractive option.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Recession => look at buying refurb

        I'm typing this on a several year old business class dualcore laptop w a 1440 x 900 screen. I paid much less than £200 for it a few months ago. Refurb. Bought from a company like Misco.

        Every PC I've bought for myself or friends/neighbours for the last ten years or so has been manufacturers surplus or refurb from respectable manufacturers ranges. Every one has been a bargain, even the one that came with a DoA network on the motherboard. In all that time I've had exactly one failure in service (an ATX power supply).

        Also, as far as I can see, hardware design quality from a user/manager point of view is getting *worse* in recent years, and any increase in performance is unnecessary for 80% of uses.

        Any home or SoHo user buying new is quite possibly throwing money down the drain. Different considerations may apply in the corporate world, but even there...

  8. Tom 11
    Mushroom

    Guff guff guffety guff

    Have you actually been in a computer based office? Or do you just conjure this image of everyone prancing around a beanbag clad open plan 'thinking space' fondling away at a tablet or sending emails typed using a little finger on a phone display???

    I had a 6 week lead time on our preferred vendor for monitors and desktops just 2 months ago while a huge back log filled.

    Poppycock and Guff i say....

  9. Tim Almond
    FAIL

    Please... make it stop...

    "Rosina claimed the average sales prices of all-in-one computers has fallen "significantly" and will drive touchscreen adoption in business, "an element of which will be at the core of Microsoft's upcoming Windows 8". "

    Firstly, no-one cares about touchscreens. Go into any FTSE 400 business, and you will struggle to find even 1, despite the fact that there are touchscreens available that work with Windows (they simulate the mouse click).

    Secondly, no-one in business wants all-in-ones. You've got a desk, you've got plenty of space under it for the PC grey box. That is, a box that can be easily repaired, upgraded or re-imaged and costs very little. All-in-ones mean locking yourself into proprietary repairs. Monitor dies with a PC? Throw out the monitor, spend £150 on a new one. Monitor dies on an all-in-one? Throw out the whole PC.

    At what point are journalists and analysts going to face the fact that 99% of fondleslabs are being used by people playing Angry Birds and updating Facebook in front of the TV and that a lot of people, and not just command-line junkies, can see little benefit in owning one if they already have a PC.

  10. John H Woods
    Happy

    @Tim Almond

    "At what point are journalists and analysts going to face the fact that 99% of fondleslabs are being used by people playing Angry Birds ..."

    Actually, that makes me wonder. Maybe it's because the work of journalists and analysts CAN be done on fondleslabs that they struggle to imagine the kind of work that can't be. Their offices probably ARE the "beanbag clad open plan 'thinking spaces'" that Tim 11 so amusingly brings to mind.

    1. David Jackson 1

      Re: @Tim Almond

      "Actually, that makes me wonder. Maybe it's because the work of journalists and analysts CAN be done on fondleslabs"

      Oh dear! Don't they do any real work then? I do sometimes have to work on machines with touch screens, but fortunately, they can and do have a keyboard and mouse attached to make them actually usable.

  11. Nya
    Mushroom

    Analysts don't know anything

    No one bought a desktop because every PC in the company's we sell too don't want to upgrade, as there is no need. The hardware has been at such a point for the past 5-6+ years, that software no longer needs better hardware to run at a level that's comfortable for the user. Company's now only buy systems when an old one dies, or new staff come in and need more stations. The PC market hasn't gone anywhere, it's just now reached a point of of total stagnation due to no need to replace hardware every couple of years as the latest version of software, runs just as fast as the old one. And with current OS's like 7 being smaller and faster than Vista, and 8 being faster than 7 (ok not like anyone's going to use it), the need for new hardware isn't going to come anytime soon.

    Until hardware makers bring something new to the table (not something utterly unproductive like touch, gestures or any of that tat), than the market will linger in stagnation. What is installed is good enough. No need for new hardware at all. And all this utter trash about the wonders of tablets is nothing without actual market foundation. As a display device yes, people are using them. But for work, they are going back to the office and using the hardware the companies have had for years. Yes, it's a growth market at the moment, but as a replacement for the hardware in the companies? no it isn't.

    Analysts don't know anything about the real world or the state of what or why thing's sell in the channel. Everything they say should be always taken with a huge pinch of salt, and even then with some rubber gloves on due to the amount of BS they shovel.

    For the channel, it's a hard position. We can push selling machines for lower power consumption. We can push machines to look prettier in the office. But until someone gives a proper reason for clients to need new hardware this situation will continue. Meaning those in the channel need to diversify and adapt to keep ourselves going.

  12. FinUK
    WTF?

    Catch up

    I find it funny that a lot of IT guys on here are getting upset that people are getting away from traditional desktop machines.

    They are bulky, expensive to run and often not suited to the task.

    I can't think of a single job that's not improved by a portable device.

    Call centers - work from home laptop, sure parts etc... can run up a pretty penny but the savings from not having staff on site way out weigh them.

    Directors / project teams, layers, finance, you name it they don't need to be tied down and work better away from a desk.

    Providing people who work on the street / out and about with ipads with tailored apps will create efficiencies by reducing staff time in the local office messing around on a desktop or looking through the mass of network storage for a single document.

    Its disappointing so many IT professionals forget they should be providing tools to save the business money and create efficiencies rather than look at the bigger picture.

    There are obviously exceptions to the rule but just thought i would offer up a different perspective.

    1. Spanners Silver badge
      Boffin

      Re: Catch up

      I can't think of a single job that's not improved by a portable device.

      Serious data entry, writing manuals and documentation, finance and good old fashioned secretarial work for starters.

      Anything that actually involves content creation cries out for a proper keyboard, good sized screen and a reasonably ergonomic workstation. Can I guess that you have never tried entering 5,000 words by way of a portable device? It's not an option.

    2. This post has been deleted by its author

    3. imanidiot Silver badge
      WTF?

      Re: Catch up

      I can't think of a single job that's not improved by a portable device.

      You try doing proper engineering work on a laptop or tablet. (And I mean CAD work, writing manuals, documentation, etc)

      Sure, a touch interface is nice for the design boys, but all of those I know would rather use a Wacom Intuos or even a Cintiq coupled to a real PC.

      Having to search through a NAS for a single document sounds more like not having a proper archiving or library system than a failure of a desktop machine itself. Sure a field workers load can be lightened if he can access his data from a tablet or smartphone. But once he's done in the field and needs to type up his reports and recommendations, process his data, prepare for next days jobs, etc, he'd be better off being able to go to an office and sit behind a desktop. And I can say that from experience as I'm currently working in that manner.

      I don't know any technical personnel at this company working in the office or in service who would want to give up their desktop for a notebook, tablet or smartphone. Even the sales droids still heavily rely on their desktops when in the office. I'll admit, on the road they use tablets. But that is more of an addition to the toolbox than a replacement for the desktop.

    4. Tom 11

      Re: Catch up

      I am so glad I do not have to work with you, you're the sort of user / boss that makes my job a burden....

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Catch up

      "Its disappointing so many IT professionals forget they should be providing tools to save the business money and create efficiencies rather than look at the bigger picture."

      It is. But that's a separate topic to the inevitable stagnation of the desktop market, and the irrelevance of most of the proposed replacements in most of the current application areas?

      "one box" (monitor and system unit) aolutions? I mean, really?

      Laptops and tablets suit a few applications, as do thin client.

      Horses for courses.

      But there's not going to be growth in desktops for the foreseeable future. It's a replacement-only market, and converting desktops to thin clients (or virtual desktops as we must call them this week) may even eat into that.

      Hard times ahead for the manufacturers and the channel. They better wake up soon.

    6. daveeff
      FAIL

      Re: Catch up

      > I can't think of a single job that's not improved by a portable device.<

      I am using a laptop & occasionally it goes on the road but most of the time its plugged into a docking station & 2 x 24" monitors, 2 x 1TB external disks, 100Mb ethernet & yes I need that lot to do my job so it is hardly "mobile".

      but it isn't a desktop...

    7. jason 7

      Re: Catch up

      FinUk,

      let me guess you wear white plimsoles, skinny jeans and the app you do most of your work in is...hmmm Instagram?

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