back to article Desktop PC shipments dip below 100m/year

Desktop PC shipments dipped below 100 million in 2017 and there's worse to come across the personal computing device market according to analyst firm IDC. The company on Wednesday published a summary of its Worldwide Quarterly Personal Computing Device Tracker for 2017's final quarter in which it totted up shipments for the …

  1. Steve Button

    Or to look at it another way...

    ... Despite the decline Desktop PC shipments still 100m / year.

    Which is pretty much what you allude to in the last paragraph, but not what the headline suggests.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Or to look at it another way...

      "People just don't see value in upgrades these days, and who can blame them? "

      No, it's far more than lots of places are moving to VDI. You don't need a PC on your desk these days.

  2. Gene Cash Silver badge

    DIY sales

    Does anyone track raw CPU & motherboard sales?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: DIY sales

      Yes, MIC in Taiwan publish this sort of stuff. But it'll cost you $1,500 for a single user licence.

      From snippets they've released I think the customer build and DIY segment is about 6m units a year compared to the c100m total boxes.

  3. Nick Ryan Silver badge

    Market Saturation?

    Or are the finance monkeys still under the daft delusion that perpetual growth is possible?

    1. AMBxx Silver badge

      Re: Market Saturation?

      It's less market saturation, more a change in how we use 'devices'. I no longer carry a laptop to meetings. Instead I have a tablet. Same thing, different form factor.

      Bit like saying sales of cars declined just because we switched to hatch backs.

      1. g00se

        Re: Market Saturation?

        I no longer carry a laptop to meetings. Instead I have a tablet. Same thing, different form factor.

        Nope - they're different things. One is a device that's capable of high productivity, the other is largely a device for consumption. Before you say you input stuff like a fiend at meetings, consider the general point. Tablets are good at one thing though: getting users to accept a high cost/computing power ratio. Landfill

      2. Roland6 Silver badge

        Re: Market Saturation?

        It's less market saturation, more a change in how we use 'devices'. I no longer carry a laptop to meetings. Instead I have a tablet. Same thing, different form factor.

        But the table in the article doesn't really support what you are implying (although the table would be more useful if it contained more historical data and so enable a trend to be determined, but suspect you have to subscribe to get that graph...).

        What is interesting is that IDC are forecasting a much bigger reduction in the shipments of tablets, whilst shipments of desktops and notebooks remain reasonably stable. Thus I suggest that in general those who can have already switched their laptop for a tablet.

        However, I suspect you do as I and many others do: take the tablet to meetings, leaving the laptop on the desk. It is thus interesting that the IDC forecast seems to imply that the increase in detachable tablet shipments won't be at the expense of laptop shipments.

      3. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

        Re: Market Saturation?

        "I no longer carry a laptop to meetings. Instead I have a tablet." Where I work no one has a tablet but everyone has a laptop which we carry around as needed.

        The overall point of the post is the desktop/laptop/tablet market is a best flat with the vast majority of the purchases being replacements for worn out kit. The precise breakdowns will vary somewhat between form factors. And any overall sales growth will happen in specific geographic locations as they become wealthier.

        1. AMBxx Silver badge

          Re: Market Saturation?

          Perhaps I should have mentioned that my tablet is an i7 Surface Pro with 16 GB RAM. More than capable of anything I'm likely to throw at it.

          Has a keyboard too - hence same thing, different form factor.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    It's worth noting (and these articles hardly ever do) that component sales are still high, though increasing prices and shortages are starting to hit those too. But people are still upgrading, they're just upgrading the components instead of the whole system.

    1. nerdbert

      Re: Prebuilt-vs-components

      I haven't met anyone who's bought a prebuilt desktop in years. If you care about performance and durability you either build or get a custom built system.

      Moore's Law and Dennard scaling (base semiconductor scaling) are dead. We've hit the practical Amdahl limit, too. So if you look at the practical speed of a general purpose CPU for the last 5 years you'll see it's almost flat. Why upgrade your system if your CPU and RAM are basically unchanged in speed?

      The only thing that's still scaling up at a respectable pace are GPUs. I've upgraded my GPU regularly, but I haven't seen enough of an improvement to even consider a CPU update, meaning that my desktop system with high quality components has served me well for years, and probably will for more years to come.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    We continue to push out more and more iPads, if they fit the need of the task required by the user why have all the headaches that come with managing Windows clients or the expense of a MacBook when iPads are not that pricey and very easy to manage. Plus since most users now know how to use an iPhone well, iOS on an iPad is quite familiar to them.

    If we need a full fat system that runs a desktop class OS we still have hundreds of perfectly usable devices in the store room that are not slow despite their age.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "We continue to push out more and more iPads"

      We have retired all of ours for Microsoft Surface tablets. Far easier and more flexible to manage - and runs full versions of your business apps.

      1. Roland6 Silver badge

        Interestingly, for a client, we have reached the conclusion that shop floor staff don't need desktops/laptops and the business app client functionality they need all runs on iPads... So now deploying WiFi across their factory floors...

  6. imanidiot Silver badge

    Still waiting

    Mostly I'm still waiting for the crypto fad to implode so the price of GPU's comes down to reasonable values and the RAM producers to stop trying to shaft me and get me some RAM for a decent price instead of gouging me for 3 times what I would have paid for the same stuff only 2 years ago.

    I'm in the market to upgrade my gaming/CAD/home-office system, but still balking at the amount of currency I'd have to plonk down currently.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Still waiting

      My hand was forced a week ago by the failure of an aged Nvidia 275GTX (last eight years, so no complaints), and I had to pony up £190 for a 1050Ti (about £40-£50 more than April 2017).

      I hope all those bloody coin mining morons lose every penny they have. OTOH, if the new card lasts eight years, it's still only about £2 a month.

  7. Conyn Curmudgeon

    From a PC Gamers perspective, the race to the top with CPU and GPU manufacturers resulted in my twice a year PC upgrade just to keep up slowly stretching out to the point where I now manage to go 3-5 years between needing upgrades. Only the cash rich "must have the latest and dearest" crowd are still buying the flagships, the rest of us are happy to sit on just MAX settings instead of ULTRA for most of our games. High end workstation users are in much the same position, why bother, it got "good enough" years ago. I think the same can be said for tablets and phones now too, they are struggling to make any headway and resort to gimmicks to shift new stuff when the current range is "good enough".

  8. Tromos

    Since the days of the original IBM PC, I have regularly renewed desktops every 3 years or so until recently. The current desktop and laptop have made it past 5 years and I see no reason to upgrade as long as they still function. The desktop has had a couple of HDDs added, but is otherwise unchanged, the laptop battery isn't capable of more than about an hour of usage, but it's very rare that I need mobile access that can't be catered for by a lower powered device.

    Show me a compelling reason to upgrade similar to the step from a 386 to a 486 CPU and I'll consider a new machine soon. Otherwise, barring a major failure the current setup will be maintained for at least a couple more years.

  9. paulc

    My next machine at work will be a laptop...

    can still run multiple displays and the only reason I'm even getting an upgrade is that I need to run large memory sized virtual machines...

    the 4 year old 8GB desktop currently doesn't cut the mustard...

  10. Dropper

    They're too good.. for their own good

    Trouble is, and I know the Reg has stated this themselves, PCs are just too good. Same goes for mobile computing really.

    I looked at upgrading my 4 yr old PC with an equivalent model (i7, 16GB RAM, SSD, decent video card, etc) and found today's models benchmark maybe 10-15% faster than my own.

    As my current machine boots up from POST to everything loaded in the system tray in under 2 minutes, it's difficult to justify the $1000+ required to purchase something better. Worse.. new games still run at decent settings at over 60 FPS. Not max settings for sure, but I don't have to move the performance "sliders" too much to the left. Photoshop and Premier still tick along at excellent speeds, 3D Studio churns out awful attempts at rendering at a brisk pace. Simply put, stuff today is too good.

    Same goes for tablets and phones. Swap out the battery and if it isn't over 3 years old the chances are it will run the latest version of your mobile OS at a very respectable speed.

    Moral of the story. Make sh!!tter stuff guys.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: They're too good.. for their own good

      Tim Sweeney has talked about this before. Hardware power isn't the issue, software design is. Designers are becoming lazy (not *necessarily* the programmers) because there's more processing power to fall back on. Games have seen this in the last 3 years since the launch of the new consoles. Having 8GB of shared RAM between the GPU and CPU has made developers incredibly lazy with texture optimisation because there's so much more memory to dump it on.

  11. kain preacher

    Here is the thing, in 2000 a PC from 1995 is paper weight 166–200 MHz vs 700–1400 MHz.

    I can run a PC from 2010 with no issues. Only reason to upgrade is if you are forced on to windows 10.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "Only reason to upgrade is if you are forced on to windows 10."

      Well yes if your CPU is too old to be supported. Windows 10 is in general faster than 7 or 8 on the same hardware though.

      1. kain preacher

        Windows 10 will be the only supported Windows platform on Intel's upcoming 'Kaby Lake' silicon, Qualcomm's upcoming '8996' silicon, and AMD's upcoming 'Bristol Ridge' silicon

        It's able to run on older CPUs but is not supported.

  12. MooJohn

    Bang for the buck

    My customers are thrilled to see that just swapping an SSD into the desktop my shop built for them 5-6 years ago brings the speed increase they thought they would get only by purchasing a new computer. They might need more memory and some want to move from 7 to 10 but overall they're glad to go faster without changing anything else.

    I would say that this puts a damper on new PC sales but the price of memory has taken care of that. It's already hard for the custom shop to compete vs. the big manufacturers who pay $5 for Windows while I fork over $100 but with memory now costing twice what it did a year ago, it's hard to sell vs. machines that have been on warehouse shelves for a year, packed with previous-generation CPUs and are now being sold on clearance at $100-200 or more off list price.

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