But with the advent of touch ... we will see a rebound in traditional notebooks
£5 says you won't
Any PC makers dreaming of a sales rebound this year are picking up the pieces of that shattered aspiration: beancounters at IDC reckon the number of computers shipped will be worse than first feared. The statisticians believe the market in Western Europe will decline 16.3 per cent to just shy of 47 million units in 2013, …
Yeah! Everytime El Reg publish a review of a new laptop with (groan) a 1366 x 768 screen scores of us comment bemoaning it, same on any tech review site. Surely manufacturers don't need a market research genius to point this out?
>"Yeah! Everytime El Reg publish a review of a new laptop with (groan) a 1366 x 768 screen scores of us comment bemoaning it.."
Yer not kidding!... I just had a good tittle rant about exactly this over here: http://forums.theregister.co.uk/forum/containing/1939872 ...moments before this article landed. So it seems the "analysts" agree with us (the consumers)
...and the laptop pushers still don't know why their racket is imploding? What the hell is wrong with them?
Indeed, and trashy 16:9 aspect ratios. Desperate for a new laptop and will throw oodles of money at any company that is not from Cupertino who will throw in a decent matte 16:10 screen with wide colour gamut.
Unfortunately none exist, so sticking with an old machine from 2006 (but with a better screen than most of the trash I see in the shops today).
yep, unfortunately this problem isn't limited to laptops.
for most products I buy I have a set list of simply criteria I need them to make, nothing fancy, usually just what my previous model from 6-10 years ago did, just a bit more modern and less worn out.
in so many areas the products on offer today fail to meet the criteria in what I would consider to be critical areas.
For Laptops, as you rightly state, it's screen resolution and aspect. 16:9 is useless for productivity, 16:10 makes a world of difference. Many PC monitors are just as bad.
If locked down devices like the Surface become more common that's another critical point I can see even more products in this field missing in the future.
As a result of all this I'm making do with my old tech. Why replace it with something that has inferior usability and inferior technical specs in areas that actually matter to me? If the manufacturers wants to know why the bottom is dropping out of the market then they need to think about why in some instances you can end up paying more for one of their old products than the new ones on eBay.
The problem isn't even limited to hardware, but that is drifting too far off topic.
I have money, I'd like to spend it, but the products aren't out there.
"Unfortunately none exist, so sticking with an old machine from 2006 "
Yep, I've got a 4.5 kilo beast of the same vintage with a 17" 1920x1200 matte screen. Suffers from some overheating doing 3D but it is still better than the crapola they are selling today.
That, and the fact that the PC market itself has fundamentally changed from growth upon growth to a more mature replacement cycle (with a percentage of those replacements going to tablets) means the PC market is *never* going to go back to where it was 5 years ago. It's all downhill from here folks.
You can take that to the bank.
If it was the advent of "grope" instead of "touch" you'd see sales soar through the roof!
Really, I'm not surprised that sales aren't going anywhere. I have two notebooks, a Toshiba from 2006-ish and a Lenovo from 2009-ish. I recently loaded the Toshiba with Ubuntu, and the Android SDK runs just fine. The Lenovo is still going strong with XP, and I haven't decided yet to reload it next year with Windows or a Linux build. There's no point in buying a new machine as long as the old one is more than responsive enough for my needs. I'm planning on buying a Mac, but that's only for iOS development.
that PCs were a stopgap, until mobiles and tablets joined games consoles and media players in a landscape where rather than having a single box do several different things, you had several different boxes doing several different things ?
For 80% of the great public, computing is about email/social networks, browsing, and media delivery (YouTube). With a little bit of gaming. None of which *needs* a PC anymore.
"That's what we call a business opportunity"
I've been in that business. The avg person really doesn't care enough.
Which is the core problem with sales in the first place.
The other poster is right: email, social sites, cat pictures, You Tube, games. That's about all most people use it all for.
For most peoples' personal use, the phablet is the future. For most people, there is no longer an exciting of very compelling reason to own a PC except to drive a bigger screen.
Most homes still need the ability to write and print a letter, print a coupon out, etc.
None of which needs a new PC. Sure, there will still be a market for PC to replace broken, unrepairable models, but I stand by my assertion. You'll still get PCs, but they'll be niche.
A similar story befell thermionic valves - they were essentially a stopgap (for different reasons) until transistors came along. You can still get valves - indeed they are essential in some high-power applications. But they're niche.
VHS was a stopgap until we had DVDs. DVDs themselves were a stopgap until streaming media arrived.
In all my 30 years computing, I have only bought 2 new computers. An Amstrad 1512 (which I upgraded to a 1640), and a Memorex-Telex PC in 1992. All the other computers I have owned have been second hand, and/or acquired (legally) from work. In all that time, I have never felt underpowered, or in need of something newer.
Currently the Page household runs on 2 2008 Dell boxes (one for wifey, one for sprog) that I acquired when my office closed in 2010. Running Windows 7, there's no reason why they shouldn't last another 5 years .....
"Doing any form of serious writing, drawing, CAD, 3D graphics, music composition and recording, coding, video editing and so on needs a full blown machine."
Agreed. I do most of these things, and need a proper computer with BIG monitors for this. But most people only use a home computer for email, surfing and social networks, all of which is now moving to phone/tablet devices.
As for printing a letter, I don't remember the last time I used snail mail, and have no idea what a stamp costs these days.
> Doing any form of serious writing, drawing, CAD, 3D graphics, music composition and recording, coding, video editing and so on needs a full blown machine.
Shifting containers, house removals, delivering to supermarkets, and so on needs big trucks. Cars and bikes just won't do those jobs.
Any task such as serious video editing, programming and so on is the province of a tiny minority of users, most of those at work. They could all stop buying and barely affect the PC market. Even game players wanting more than the performance of a tablet area tiny, if vocal minority Anyway, lots of them love to boast of building their own rather than buying off the shelf.
The shear convenience, economy of space, portability and useabity of a tablet or even an iPhone or Android phone overcomes most drawbacks for most people. Then, for the rest, a MacBook Air, for example, provides portability, all day without being plugged in computing power that exceeds that of most desktop PCs and far exceeds the needs even for most technical work, with the connection to an external screen and keyboard.
So. The only serious market for PCs is business, education and government. Even these are finding that, for most employees, a modest laptop and docking station take less office and desk space, is quicker to swap in case of failure and satisfies the needs of those who must take their machine to a meeting or home or hot-desk.
I should think the mass PC market has got one foot firmly in the grave and is not long for this world.
Upvote because it's true but you do realise you're talking about a really small percentage of "PC sales" there right?
Things have been decent for a while, a machine from 2008-2010 runs 99% of applications fine. everything else is an edge case, and those "edge cases" are still upgrading their kit now, and will keep doing so. Selling to those folks will never see an upturn of any sort. They're selling to them already.
"getting your home network up and running without a PC is a faff."
I don't know what you've been using, but most modern WiFi routers come pre-configured and need no more than a web browser to adjust their settings. You surely don't need a full PC for that. Tablets will also happily print to WiFi enabled printers (HP seem to have patents on making this REALY easy, but its not much harder for printers from Samsung et al). The only missing bit from your equation is typing letters, and Bluetooth keyboards take the pain out of that. For your average home user the point where they can happily exist with only a tablet is already here.
> I don't know what you've been using, but most modern WiFi routers come pre-configured and need no more than a web browser to adjust their settings
That doesn't mean that a tablet will be any good at dealing with that interface. There are still plenty of websites that do poorly with a tablet. This one right here is a good example.
The fact that you are pushing the idea of "special printers" just demonstrates how messed up the tablet market is. That's a solution for a problem that really shouldn't exist to begin with.
"I don't know what you've been using, but most modern WiFi routers come pre-configured and need no more than a web browser to adjust their settings. "
I don't claim to be an expert on home wireless routers, but the ones I have used all defaulted to settings access from a wired connection only. If you wanted to live on the wild side and expose the network set-up web pages to the wireless side of the router, you have to log in with the wired connection first to change it.
I note that some home wireless routers have a button the user can press which allows for configuration over wireless for a short period after the button press but I've not used one so don't know if that's what you are referring to or if that's "universal" in terms of connecting all wireless devices or just "compatible" devices.
Undoubtedly there are some tasks that need a computer, being either impossible or difficult on a tablet/phone/console/media centre/internet radio/device.
But for these things that computer can be an ancient workhorse. No need for speed. No need for the latest whizzy OS and graphics. No need to be buying a new computer.
Even I, as a IT professional, am finding I have less and less need to boot my PC of an evening. I can do what I need in a handful of other devices. The average, non-gamer, end-user must be finding even fewer reasons for using or buying a PC.
Nope no need for a printer:
Coupons - on my phone,
Boarding pass - on my phone
tickets, on my phone..
Get the trend here? I have a device with a screen than can display any document I need. - with the odd exception like Ryanair tickets, which is just another reason not to fly with them.
'Nope no need for a printer:
Coupons - on my phone,
Boarding pass - on my phone
tickets, on my phone.'
Yes, even have my car insurance doc's on the phone but recently stopped and asked about insurance on the day I renewed it. Showed phone to Police person and email from Insurers who said I need to show a paper copy at the station, but let me off this time!
Wish I had a printer in the car.
"Most homes still need the ability to write and print a letter, print a coupon out, etc. Now, sure, you can print from your phone or tablet but getting your home network up and running without a PC is a faff."
Could not disagree more!
Figures would not support your theory.
"Most homes still need the ability to write and print a letter, print a coupon out, etc. Now, sure, you can print from your phone or tablet but getting your home network up and running without a PC is a faff."
This may be true but where 5 years ago "most homes" would contain multiple PC's, these days "most homes" are quite satisified with a single PC and a bunch of non PC devices (tablets, phones, consoles, smart TV's).
wot he said above...also, JDX below, if they need to print a coupon (probably a boarding pass) or type a letter (probably their CV) they do that at their place of work. The gen pop only used computers because it was the only way to do the above stuff and now they don't need it. My GF can send naughty pix of herself in her car from a layby at 06:00 without the need for anything more than a Samsung phone and she can describe (type) what she wants me to do to said object in the photo all without farting about with a trackpad
"My GF can send naughty pix of herself in her car from a layby at 06:00 without the need for anything more than a Samsung phone and she can describe (type) what she wants me to do to said object"
If my GF wants naughtiness at 6am, she can damn well wait until it's a sensible time - unless she's suddenly decided she's into necrophilia!
"A new one won't make a noticeable difference in speed or power"
I was with you until this point.
New PCs are scary, scary fast.
I have an older quad core. (almost 4 years) I can run 4 MAJOR creation programs (web, drawing, 3D, video/photo and IE and FF to test) at once before it starts to slow down, let alone long before it chokes.
And I do so almost daily. Yet it's JUST a PC.
But that's the fundamental problem. Home PCs reached that point about 4 years ago. Going from scary, scary fast to scary, scary, scary, scary fast doesn't help me type any faster. The PC got addicted to frequent refreshes from tech advances that DID help me type faster back when I could fill the keyboard buffer faster than the PC put letters on the screen. From here on out, for most of the market we just need replacement systems when there is a hardware failure.
And no, bloating down the OS is NOT a hardware failure. Which is part of the backlash underneath the griping about the Start Menu. We know what a stable OS looks like. We know what decent and stable hardware looks like. We also know what it costs. Claiming otherwise isn't working anymore. If you want "snazzy new and improved" you damn well better HAVE snazzy new and improved.
Yeah, have to agree with you on this. Ever since Intel came out with the Core series of processors (and corresponding AMD procs too) there is no real need to upgrade to a newer box for the average user as their old box processes their stuff just fine right now. And add to that the fact that a new box will be saddled with Win 8 and it's attendant learning curve and you have a good reason to stick with your present box. I built my main system when the i7 980X first came out and I see no reason to even think of building a replacement for it. And for most people for the average home computer, a Core 2 Duo with a few gigs of ram is still plenty fast enough for them and that's a system around 5 years old, if not more.
Price performance is no better today than it was 5 years ago.
Nor has the requirement for ultra advanced word processors, spreadsheets email clients or web browsers suddenly emerged. What worked 10 years ago is pretty much all you need today ..
WinXP is and always was good enough to run a business on, apart from crashing, and at the base level you can take the XP machine and stick linux on it and get better stability. And cleaner fonts.
The PC is a commodity product with a 'replacement only' sticker on it.
Business doesn't need better, and consumers don't want better: they want slabs.
What would I like on this desktop? more RAM, more CPU, bigger screen faster disks, less power usage. Are these available at sane prices? Nope.
Are they likley to be? Nope.
short of some massive new technology coming along, what has happened is that processors and RAM have done the Moore's law thing, and that's been good. I have more processing power on my desktop than probably existed in the entire world when I coded my first program.
But that's running to the end of its course,
LCDs massively reduced the space that displays took up.
Of course networking is still running the Moore's law curve..so a gigabit or terabit network might still be useful..but how much content can one person generate in a workplace?
My ADSL is faster in practice than the first LANS I used. And more reliable. My LAN here at 100Mbps is already more than fast enough for most purposes except moving videos around.
Apart from reading Eboks in bed, I have all the computing power I can use.
My desktop OS (linux) is SO reliable I never need to reboot it.
It is at the level of car design in the 80s. Suddenly cars got 'more than good enough' and all ended up looking the same..and being very uninteresting.
Software..well that's a different matter. bloated, ridden with unusable features, bugs and exploitable errors, there is scope for improvement.
> ...but they'd rather not buy a PC at all rather than install Linux, according to these figures
I have a bunch of Linux boxes spread around doing different appliance type things. I have a beast of a desktop box. I'm probably the PC industry's last best hope for new hardware sales but even I find that I will not likely buy another PC until I need to replace a failing bit of kit. Even then, I will likely replace that failing bit of kit with more of the same rather than opting for an "upgrade" of some sort.
The rise of the tablet is a nice demonstration of how most people don't need to upgrade (PC) computing capacity and much of the previous "growth" of the PC industry was upgrades to computing capacity.
Tablets have reset the cycle to some degree but even that's limited.
Given all the figures for marketshare for OS usage I very much doubt it. We can argue about how the figures are arrived at and the actual percentages but Linux is still very much a minority OS on the desktop. Windows 8 may be/is crap but it's still more widely used than all the Linux distros combined.
And this is not the view of a Microsoftie. I've been trying to like Desktop Linux since SuSE 5.2. I gave up and moved to OSX
If. You had actually read what the guy said you would have noticed that he was talking about desktop distros.
So we are now to accept that Android is a Linux distro.. There is now widespread Malware problems on Android..Does this mean the end of endless comments about how secure Linux is as there are no Linux viruses? Or just an eventual recognition that the amount of malware on a platform increases as it's market share increases?
> If. You had actually read what the guy said you would have noticed that he was talking about desktop distros.
He didn't restrict the 'Windows 8' to desktop PCs, the implication was that it covered laptops and tablets.
Tablets and smartphones are the new 'Personal Computers' and desktop systems are being relegated to be servers or specialized workstations for CAD, video editing, programming and such.
In the mid 80 you could still claim that there were more mainframe computers - but only if you dismissed the PCs as not worth counting.
So we are now to accept that Android is a Linux distro.. There is now widespread Malware problems on Android..Does this mean the end of endless comments about how secure Linux is as there are no Linux viruses?
The malware on Android are primarily not 'viruses'. They are mainly Trojans. Computers do not protect against user stupidity.
In the early 20th century, you could buy a home electric motor, and add all manner of task specific attachments. Nowadays the motor is embedded in a task specific device.
The similar decline of the general purpose home computer has started. You and I might not like that fact, but it is a fact
I think that your first respondee made the point. Computers wont disappear. But the PC will.
It has split into three evolutionary branches. The personal computing device which is phones slabs and their ilk, the workstation for content generation and data input, and the server for storage access and central processing of data.
Bigger and better servers are driving some sales. Smaller and cheaper slabs other sales. The workstation is of course the real problem. It fundamentally works well enough already for all but the most demanding applications.
"People may dislike Windows 8...
...but they'd rather not buy a PC at all rather than install Linux, according to these figures"
More like Linux doesn't need a new computer to run, so people buy a used one to run it on.
Well, not really -- the economy is still terrible so people just aren't buying, period, unless their existing kit breaks.
""People have been putting off buying a new notebook and there was no compelling reason to buy."
Isn't that the truth.
I (finally) upgraded my own laptop earlier this year and what did I get? A just out of lease Dell Latitude, still with factory (extended) warranty (!), for 1/4 the price it went for new about 21 months ago. The performance difference between 21 months ago and today's kit? Not worth the 4x price difference, not even worth a 30% price difference IMHO. The performance level of the tech just hasn't moved enough to move me to spend for it - I spent all the extra funds on NAS, DAS, peripheral and network upgrades, instead.
>>Still need them here.
>>Cannot mention my organisation, but we certainly still need PC's.
>>In fact just last month i ordered 6,100 PC's from HP, so i must be HP's best friend right now. :-)
Still need them here.
Cannot mention my organisation, but we certainly still need PCs.
In fact just last month i ordered 6,100 PCs from HP, so i must be HP's best friend right now. :-)
Do the new PCs come with a grammar checker?
It won't stop until people have a compelling reason to upgrade to a new PC! Windows 8 has been ACTIVELY DISINCENTIVISING people away from new computer purchases. They want their old PC interface, but MS is not listening. Until we get Windows 9, with the "under the hood" improvements of Windows 8, with the UI of Windows 7, we will continue to see people avoid new machines!
"Windows 8" was the final "killer" blow that pushed the consumer market right over the cliff... the retail monopoly enjoyed by Redmond never meant the consumer liked Windows... it was just the only option.
The average punter struggled to control [or even understand] the pre-installed crapware... they struggled to overcome the deluge of viruses, malware and pop-up that infested their systems... they struggled as the performance of their systems quickly cratered [or ground to a halt]... they struggled to reconcile their experiences with the happy smiley faces seen in the adverts.
Basically, WTF XP, WTF Vista, WTF 7, WTF 8 [or any other version of WTF]
WAS NEVER FIT FOR PURPOSE in the CONSUMER MARKET.
Now the consumer has a choice.
Now the consumer can fondle and play with their phones.
Now the consumer can tap and text on their shiny slabs.
Now the consumer can "disengage mind" and "enjoy" using the technology.
The consumer doesn't care what its called - they just want it to work.
The consumer train has left the station... and WTF 8 is NOT on the train.
A story with a very happy ending for the consumer...
A story with a sting in the tail for the Beast from Redmond and their camp followers.
If you've never used a modern phone or shiny slab I guess that maybe you think that's true. I suppose if you just use an iPhone and iTunes it might be, provided you don't find it limiting and try to do something that Apple don't approve of. If you're an average Android phone user then you're still getting crapware plus additional network operator restrictions and you're much less likely to get any security or stability updates than some fool running windows. (yeah, you can flash your phone and remove that stuff, but we're talking about consumer products here. A customer who wouldn't wipe a pc and put linux on it is unlikely to root their phone. And as for a Nexus device, latest NSA updates automatically? No thanks.)
Take off those rose coloured glasses, the crap wasn't because of windows it was because of corporate greed and a big market, and all that shit is heading straight to a mobile device near you right now.
AND AN EXTRA SHOUTY BIT because apparently THAT HELPS TO GET YOUR POINT ACROSS!
That STILL doesn't make WTF 8 "fit for purpose" in the consumer market.
The NUMBERS speak for themselves in the consumer market...
Their voice is even being heard in the Ivory Towers of Redmond.
The bi-annual upgrade has moved onto the phone market...
and should get established in the fondle slab market...
Contract renewal offers [and trade-ins for the old kit] have changed the volume market.
Away from a high price WTF 8 "durable" investment...
Towards a low price disposable market.
At that price point people are willing to tolerate some crap...
And they know its only temporary because they will have a new one next year.
> Take off those rose coloured glasses, the crap wasn't because of windows
Windows was a mess built on a foundation of sand. At any point in it's evolution from DOS, it was worse than anything else out there both in terms of features and security. Apple even had some nice commercials highlighting these details until their new messiah came along.
Tablets are a welcome relief to a monopoly-ware product from a totally crass company.
Pretty much everyone else has more pride in their products and it shows. The underlying technical details do matter quite a bit.
Stop selling shit.
For a laptop I want a 16:10 screen at least (16:9 is useless).
I want the choice of matte/gloss (I prefer matte, but to each their own).
I want a backlit keyboard.
A battery life in excess for 6 hours for normal use.
Then we can start to discuss CPU, RAM etc.
Pardon me, but why is 120 more pixels SO important on a 1920-wide screen?
And as for the backlit keyboard, say goodbye to the battery life (What's the biggest battery hog? Lights. That includes the backlight of the monitor).
And since normal use can vary from person to person, might it better to have a more objective target, say 4 hours at full tilt? On a COMPACT battery (so no cheating with bulky extra-capacity ones)?
Because laptops specs aren't set by techies. They use to be set by the marketing team and the engineers designed (or tried to given we're talking about marketing droids) to what they said. But these days not even the marketing team is setting the specs, it's the bean counters. Bean counters want to control manufacturing and inventory costs. Easiest way to do that is to make everything the same. Now I'm not sure why everybody's bean counters are reaching the same solutions. The 16:9 is obvious, that's HDTV format and therefore the media resolution. I'm not fond of the resolution myself except for tv/movies. Frankly for much of my work two (or three) 4:3s are better.
"Pardon me, but why is 120 more pixels SO important on a 1920-wide screen?"
It is on the vertical part, where you don't even get 1000px tall. 16:9 sucks for anything, and MS's Ribbon makes it even worse. Most of the lappies I've seen people buy are 16:10's.
Also, Windows 8 sucks so that also stops sales. Even those who do buy 'em end up wiping it out and reinstalling 7 (or getting someone else to do so).
MS and manufacturers are shooting their own feet, repeatedly.
""Never mind a rebound, what PC makers need is for the market to stop declining," he said."
In my mind it is simple!
Look at what most people DO with a PC. (To qualify, we are talking about average joe here, not those with a technical bent)
The overwhelming majority of tasks can be completed on a tablet. So why spend over £200 on a PC if the majority of what I want to achieve can be done using a tablet?
I'll hold back on renewing the PC until it comes to the point where what I do need the PC is so incredibly slow and painful that I would consider a new PC purchase.
The consumer PC market is now the same as the business market, in that the consumer market for PC's is dominated by people that actually know what they want and when they need to upgrade.
The manufacturers are living in the past, gone are the days they can sell whatever they want,
The average end user was conned into an upgrade every 18 months because their computer had become too slow and they where told they needed the latest 4gb memory, quad core etc. When reinstalling windows probably would have worked just as well. Now the tablet, digital media players and consoles do all the average user needs with many more benefits than a dedicated PC.
However this means I need a new laptop now, because this can only mean the PC's is now approaching the upside of it's bathtub curve.
Actually I'd say Vista. The only reason it rebounded with Windows 7 is that the corporate world needed support contracts and MS wouldn't extend XP any further. MS managed to recover once. Not so sure the bean counters will fall for it again. The bean counters are willing to let the status quo with Win 7 continue. It's less risky than looking at a whole new solution. But when they EOL Win 7 support, look for new solutions to emerge.
Linux is still lurking and improving. One of these days, some bold company is going to shift everything to Linux, cut their costs, and watch their profits rise. Once word leaks, it will be all over. Because that's how IBM lost the terminals attached to a mainframe/mini business way back when this PC revolution started.
I think it boils down to these 3 things and the big issue is that these 3 are happening combined/simultaneously.
1. PC's just haven't moved on in the last 2-3 years, WHY would you want to spend a fortunate on sod all? There is nothing exciting out at the moment.
2. Touch screen PC notebooks, well anything decent is getting on around £1,000, it's a rip off.
3. Cheap devices and tablets do what 70-80% of people want, so the divide between PC's and these other devices is now opening up, or more so, the users. Those that want a workstation for some serious work, it's a PC or perhaps an Apple machine. For a bit of email, browsing and general daily stuff, a tablet or hanging on to that old notebook does just fine.
I think with a decent OS, some exciting products and decent price, notebooks could actually make a little comeback, but those issues, above, are stopping that from happening. Solve #1 and/or #2 and things could improve, solve both and even better! But issue 3, I doubt there's any stopping that.
I have also seen quite a few friends now that have moved over to the Tablet culture, and at the same time have got around storage limitations by using a small & cheap NAS device. Or a external HDD connected onto their Router.
So now they have the convenience of a Tablet, and a large repository of storage if required.
Now that is a PC killer for the consumer market.
The corporate world is very different though. I would imagine many are like the organisation I work for in that we use many specialist applications that are not available on any other platform other than Windows.
As such as rely on PC's, and have to maintain them / replace when required.
Because all games are made for consoles, and console hardware has been the same for over 7 years, games haven't been pushing PC hardware for well over five years, meaning that a computer that was good five years ago is still perfectly capable of any task you throw at it.
So why should anyone upgrade their PC? It's perfectly rational to stick with the old machine (especially as Win8 is a DISincentive to upgrade!).
XBone and PS4 are released late this year, and have capabilities comparable to a present mid-range PC. When those games start getting ported to the PC, old PC:s will no longer cut the mustard - and upgrading will ensue.
Sadly the effect will be pretty short lived, as no further upgrade of the console's hardware is expected for the next ten years, meaning that after 2015-16 games wont drive the hardware upgrade cycle, so a computer that's good in 2015 will likely be perfectly usable at least until 2025.
Historically PCs outperform consoles. Always been that way, will continue until the PC dies.
In fact, in some ways consoles are the precursor to the phone/fondleslab market. Dedicated entertainment device with lower performance and vendor lock-in, but at a lower price point with acceptable performance that made the trade off palatable. Cartridges/DVDs/DRMed software = App Store lock-in, which is nominally beneficial to the Devs who drive the market.
Not much of a PC/console gamer any more, but I was back in the day. Not much excited about what's out there these days. In fact, when I do visit friends with consoles, it's the old style games we tend to play: Rampage, Gauntlet, Mario Bros., Joust, maybe Space Invaders.
Yeah, PC:s outperform consoles. That's the point. You don't need heavy hardware to run console games, and ALL games, including the ones released for PC, are today made for console. A computer which was decent five years ago can still run present games, because the console hardware hasn't changed. Next year, however, console hardware WILL change.
PC makers are 99% responsible.
- They haven't mend their ways at all and still try put as much crap as possible in their machines such as very bad 1x1 WiFi n when 2x2 WiFi ac should become the entry. Or ultra crappy super low yes 1368x768 40% srgb space 1:400 contrast monitors, touchpads that won't work, 4gb soldered non upgradeable ram & one could go on and on.
- non availability. Computexx is far away & most haswell high-margin ultrabooks still aren't available and the way it looks won't be available in a month.
- one would expect a higher sense of urgency from such an underperforming group. Problem is some of them unrealistically think their salvation lies in tablets -it won't, margins are already laughable - while the rest of them seek salvation in enterprise services, as if the market could absorb an infinite amount of new entrants.
Don't forget Quality.
A friend asked me this weekend just to setup a new laptop for her daughter that she had purchased.
It was a Samsung large widescreen thing. Not sure of the model.
Anyway, it felt terrible to use. Cheap keys. The plastics used on the casing were thin, and very hard. With sharp un-finished edges. It was like it was made from a re-cycled American car dashboard.
And people pay 600 pounds for carp like that !.
Would have been better off buying a used HP Elitebook or similar.
As everybody says tablets do what most consumers need. My parents have moved from a Windows 7 crapware ridden Toshiba laptop with a boot time measured in many minutes to an iPad and are overjoyed.
As a techie the manufacturers aren't serving us either. Personally I want a cheap laptop that I can stuff full of RAM, with 1080p an SSD boot disk with second 2.5 inch data disk. Most laptops are still getting flogged with 4Gb RAM and crap screens.
I'm typing this on an out of warranty Dell 3350, i5 2410M so second generation, which has 16Gb RAM (unofficially not supported but works a treat) and a 256Mb SSD. Why buy new kit when £200 - £300 of upgrades blows away the current generation!
Only 32Gb RAM and a hi res screen would tempt.
Memory = more VMs yippeee. Yes I am a developer.
I already have a really powerful desktop computer. I'd be more inclined to connect to that using remote desktop from a cheap tablet with a high resolution screen and Bluetooth mouse/keyboard than try to find a laptop that also has a good CPU, GPU, lots of RAM and plenty of disk space.
I won't though, because life is short, and I have no wish to regret any personal time that I spent working when I could have been enjoying myself.
I was expecting to see more insight here and I am sorely disappointed. At least in the first page of comments all of my searches came up dry, and I'm scarcely motivated to search further. Ergo, let me state the obvious:
Touch interfaces suck, both absolutely and relative to the existing alternative of keyboards and mice and the future alternative of voice interfaces. Most users have enough common sense to figure this out, and THAT is the underlying reason Windows 8 shall die the big death.
Touch is good for certain things. For example, if the computers really could suck, then there are some people who would find that a major selling point. (Just a negative side effect of reading another of Ryu Murakami's books?) However, in general touch lacks utility, precision, and flexibility. Typing is quite accurate for text input and the finger is probably the least accurate pointing device, at least on the scale of computers. A bit speculative, but I do think that voice interfaces will mature in the future, which partly means more precision (based on context awareness) but mostly means more flexibility and intelligence. I definitely expect to live long enough to work with computers that emulate human assistants, at least for basic stuff.
In conclusion, if I were a speculator I would be betting strongly AGAINST touch interfaces, but especially on the long term. Even on the recent short term, it is clear there was money to be made in shorting them...
Nah, touch is here to stay because of one neat thing: no additional accessories required to use. Stylii get lost, and mice and the like need batteries. That's why the trend has been and stuck with just your finger (and if you don't have fingers or the like, you can't grip the device in the first place, rendering the device useless for you anyway). If something better could be devised since the iPhone, we'd have probably seen it by now, but not even the Galaxy Note is making a difference.
What's going to happen is that apps will dispense with the need for precision. There are few applications out there that require pixel-perfect precision. Most that do probably need other things (like raw compute power) that will make them more suitable for true PCs. If a little more precision is needed, there are ways to accommodate like pinch-to-zoom and borders you an adjust after the fact.
No hope of recovery until that smoking pile of sh1t of Windows 8 is around.
Recover plan checklist
fire Ballmer: done
kill Metro, Store and RT API with fire: to do
taunt and diss W8 as the epitome of failure: partially done
re-label the desktop from "legacy" to "mature, capable and dependable environment for content creation" and re-label Metro from "future" to "unsupported legacy we hope never existed": to do.
You buy one and you replace it the day it dies, because until then it does what you expect it to do.
The PC market is not declining because of Windows 8, nor is it declining because power is flatlining. The PC market is declining because tablets and smartphones fill the computing needs of 90% of the population, and consoles do it for gaming. Thus most people simply have no incentive to buy a new PC any more.
Why have tablets and phones taken over ? Because they are much simpler to use, and more reliable as well. A PC is a fickle thing - click on the wrong web page and it dies a horrible virusy death. Users don't care about security (if they did, Facebook wouldn't have a billion users), and PCs require them to learn and worry about technology.
Phones and tablets don't. With those tools, people just do what they want to do, and what they want to do is Youtube, Twitter and Facebook. Then they go to their TV and play on their console.
That is why the PC market is declining, and that is not going to change any more. Of course, phones are becoming malware targets, but it's rather easy to avoid if you don't root your phone or download apps from a non-approved store. On top of that, phones are under the control of the providers, and it is not in their interest to have viruses knocking around on their network. That means that any large threat is probably going to to be taken care of, unlike the PC market where nobody had any incentive to crack down on malware since it doesn't hit anyone's bottom line. Your PC is a zombie spam center ? Your ISP doesn't give a flying monkey's, and it's not Microsoft's problem. Besides, they now have Microsoft Security Essentials, so their image is safe (MS has actually been congratulated for it).
The PC market is in for a big shrink. Computing lifestyle has changed, and all computing partners are just going to have to deal with it.
Which is not necessarily a pleasant perspective for me. I like PCs, and I'm a gamer. I'm already bored with games designed first for consoles then badly ported to PCs, and this is not going to make things any better. On top of that, computing has always depended on the PC to innovate and drive computing power up. If the PC market becomes a pale shadow of what it was before, if a PC user becomes the equivalent of the bearded Cobol programmer, then where will computing innovations come from ?
I agree with you up to the point where you went off on an unproven malware tangent. I think the systems just haven't been as targeted yet. The PC landscape is still target rich. Sure Android, using the Linux kernel is easier to secure. But I expect the manufacturers to frell it up. We've already seen signs of that. What may save the phone/fondleslab market is that the manufacturer differentiation is sufficient to provide the diversity we never had with the Windows monoculture. But as the Windows monoculture dies, the targeting will shift.
And you're back on track with your conclusion. Sad to say, I think we are the new bearded Cobol programmers. Of course, with a little luck in a few years we'll have our equivalent of the Y2K bug.
I'm not sure what fraction of the market it makes up, but in no other industry is retail so suicidally, so sheep-shaggingly inept.
This is not helping.
Europe is worst. US a bit better.
It won't sell itself, Einstein. You need to put it where people can see it. Try putting prices on it. Keep your shop tidy. Do some promotions. Try talking sense or, failing that, learn sales technique. Go to a real shop and see how they do it. Look at a real web site. Get fucking organized or go home.
The argument that there isn't sufficient benefit at the margin to justify the capital outlay for most folks, or that Windows this or that is rubbish, has no bearing on the sales proposition, particularly in retail.
Take bicycles. There hasn't been a material advance in bicycle technology in a century. Do regular punters need new bicycles? They do not. Do shops sell new bicycles to regular punters? They do.
Today, the Register can reveal that most of the bicycles that get sold to regular punters are not strictly what those punters need. They are not correctly fitted (most are too big), they contain dubious and unnecessary non-innovations (integrated headsets, bladed spokes, telescopic forks), arbitrary design choices dressed up as features (622 wheels, 170mm cranks, and oversize tubing), and are designed to be easy to use, even when this makes them less effective (straight bars). Most of these features will never be exploited.
Regular punters would be just as well off with a second hand bike from the 1980s. Why do you suppose they cough up regularly for redundant new kit?
There is of course a regular supply of return customers, as it is a well known fact that the number of bicycles a cyclist wants is always n+1
I have a hack / commute / shop / all weather aluminium hybrid bike, a whizzy carbon road bike and for the past few months the n+1 itch has had me oggling a steel cyclocross type bike with disc brakes.
Do I need another bike, nope, but this new bike would fit nicely between the others in the type of rides I could do, at least that is what I keep telling myself and a bargain at only £1250
Back on topic, I built a nice water cooled, i7 powered monster desktop PC earlier this year, gobs of RAM, SSD boot, 3TB data drive...it is by far the best PC I have ever had and replaced a 7-8 year old computer that was on its knees.
It is a joy to power up and use (once I get out of that damn TIFKAM interface) BUT what do I still do 80 - 90 % of my browsing / emailing / commenting (and therefore a majority of my computing activity) on - a roughly 4 year old netbook that is also nearly on its knees, why? because it is downstairs and on my lap whilst I am slouched on the sofa, or it on my bed side table with in arms reach or out and about when visiting family etc.
As others have pointed out, computing at home as changed and the desktop PC (and to a lesser extent large laptop) market is never going back to how it was.
Sir, you have excellent taste.
Which would be *easier*? Building your i7 or buying the cross bike? Now replicate a million times.
The PC 'industry' bleats about falling sales, but until they learn to sell like the bike industry sells, they get negative sympathy from me.
I'm trying to build a machine right now. Impossible to find what I want. I'll probably stick with what I have, and buy that steel disc cross bike for winter.
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