back to article Death of the PC? Do me a favour, says Lenovo bigwig: 'I'm expecting the biggest growth in a decade... for 2021'

Forecasting tech sales is a dark art at the best of times but in a pandemic it takes on a whole new level of complexity. Unperturbed, Lenovo's president and COO is predicting shipment growth not seen in a decade for 2021. Gianfranco Lanci said the outbreak of the virus has "accelerated a remote revolution. Over the past …

  1. Daniel von Asmuth

    What growth?

    "300 million total PC market in 2021, that is about 20-30 million of additional growth."

    That is barely 10 % growth per annum. The PC industry must be dead.

    1. RM Myers Silver badge

      Re: What growth?

      10% seems good to me, considering this is a mature market with components that are only marginally improving. After a 7 year decline, people were excited about a less than 1% growth in 2019. The reality is that a five year old PC can, with maybe an upgrade to a SSD, do everything most users need.

      1. jglathe
        Happy

        Re: What growth?

        Yes, certainly. However, upgrading to nvme ssd and R9 Ryzen _is_ quite an improvement. I won't buy premanufactured systems with them, however. Too much cost cutting in those. Same for the 4x50G chips. Was on an upgrade run the last weeks, and what I learned was: think bigger. I mean, really. If you want a M/B that doesn't surprise you with peripheral restrictions, you need to spend €200. If you want to get the most out of the biggest chip available, you need to spend €300 at least fo the M/B only. What you get is quite some performance. If you don't need the performance, though...

      2. HildyJ Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: What growth?

        Can you (or many ElRegistas) upgrade old PCs to keep them productive? Sure. But the numbers don't apply to us. Their major market is corporations who order hundreds or thousands of identical PCs at a time, slap identical corporate software on them by cloning the HDD/SSD, and distribute them to their minions.

        1. overunder Silver badge

          Re: What growth?

          "But the numbers don't apply to us. "

          They barely apply to corporations anymore as well, so I'm not sure where 300 million desktops are going. "Old" desktops last longer and longer and longer and... and gone are the days of the late 90's where people cared about this monitor or that keyboard, people just use whatever. I think that people care more about laptops than anything any more, and those numbers aren't growing either.

          It's hard to imagine that even if you have a 12 year old processor with just 8GB of RAM that you couldn't run anything unless forced to (ie Win10). I think the reason desktops have past peak isn't because they aren't useful, but because computers have been put every where else. Phones, TVs, watches, etc. all have computers now so the gravitation towards that 1 magical computer in the building has lost its magic.

          1. Adelio Silver badge

            Re: What growth?

            Being old school I would never willing use a laptop.

            Screen is too small, keyboard no good, I hate a mousepad. Not really upgradability and if someting fails it usually means it is cheaper to get a new laptop)

            I use dual screens at home and at work and I like that.

            Work is an oldish i5 with 16gb ram and an SSD.

            Yes, I do NOT work from home but I remote work (using remote desktop connection) TO that works PC from my home pc. It woks fine. Much easier.

            1. Cliffwilliams44 Bronze badge

              Re: What growth?

              You can have all that on a modern laptop. I have dual screens in both home and office which I dock my laptop to.

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: What growth?

              So plug your laptop into a docking station and use away.

              I'm sitting in front of three screens, a mechanical keyboard, and a high quality mouse, all being driven by a docked laptop. It's a work laptop, which I picked up last week (new job) and carried home. Not terribly practical with a desktop machine.

            3. Blackjack Silver badge

              Re: What growth?

              Never used a power laptop? I had a HP Media Center XP,, lasted over a decade. Good monitor and keyboard and I could use a usb mouse.

            4. Dave K Silver badge

              Re: What growth?

              I've used a laptop for many years as my primary machine at work. As others say, at home or in the office it plugs into a dock so I have multiple screens, proper keyboard and mouse etc. The only time I ever use the screen and keyboard of the laptop itself is when travelling from time to time.

              To be honest with Covid-19, having a home office setup with three screens and just being able to dock my laptop, connect to the VPN and work as if I was in the office has been a godsend.

          2. Cliffwilliams44 Bronze badge

            Re: What growth?

            We have not purchased a "desktop box" PC in over 5 years no matter who the employee is and yes, some of those laptops never leave the office desk (until recently). So I guess it was good that we did that.

        2. Michael Habel Silver badge

          Re: What growth?

          One would suspect that the CPU (Looking at you Intel yes you who feel it necessary to reinvent the CPU Socket every 24 months.), would be the biggest PITA. As you would also need a matching Mobo to go with it.

      3. katrinab Silver badge
        Meh

        Re: What growth?

        The Ivy Bridge i7-3770 can do pretty much everything you might want from a PC at a very acceptable speed, except run modern AAA games. That launched about 8 years ago. I’ve got 2 of them doing all my home server duties. The reason I need 2 is because they max out at 32GB RAM. CPU load rarely goes above 20%.

        If you are looking for something to connect to a work computer via RDP/Citrix, do Zoom Calls, do some web browsing / Netflix / E Mail / Spreadsheets, then a Core 2 Due from 10 years ago will do the job.

        Yes, Skylake came out about 5 years ago, and there has been basically no advancement since then, at least from Intel, but even before that, the improvements were very incremental.

        1. Mark #255

          Re: What growth?

          My desktop is sat in the office, unused since March; it's an i5-2xxx (four actual cores, unlike the i5-7200U in my laptop).

          The death-knell for it wasn't the CPU; it's the surroundings. It will take a maximum of 8GB, which just isn't enough when IT load up the images with enterprise-worthy sundry stuff; it's got a 1TB spinning rust HDD (>10 minutes booting to Desktop, 15 minutes before everything's actually usable), and there's no USB3.

          And so, while the HDD is a straightforward fix, it's not worth it for the business...

      4. Michael Habel Silver badge

        Re: What growth?

        Execpt the post haswell CPU instruction set. sure you can buy a cheap 2010' Mac Pro with dual socket Xenon's with 24 cores total. But a modern day i9 can give you the same results, with just the one chip. Add to this since I'm thinking broadly of Hackintosh here. There is a real brick wall that time is racing to at full steam ahead with this advice.

        Unless you can buy used (not much help to the likes of HP) and for dirt cheap. Your better off sourcing the modern parts out yourself.

      5. Blackjack Silver badge

        Re: What growth?

        10% is a whole lot considering the Smartphone market is shrinking. Between the end of support for Windows 7 unless you wanna pay extra and because Corona, this year PC sales have been big. And they will continue to be big as people needs to replace equipment or need specialized equipment due to working from home.

  2. bombastic bob Silver badge
    Linux

    I think Lenovo is right

    as more people decide that they ALSO need an updated PC, they'll get one.

    But Lenovo could improve this even more by offering pre-installed Linux on ALL systems!

    I still insist that it's Win-10-nic that has driven much of the decline in "new PC" sales. A large number of people would rather fix the old one than be FORCED into using Win-10-nic.

    iPhone is a somewhat artificial "upgrade your hardware" environment, and to some extent, Android as well. So "replacement sales" are a big factor, not so much "new customer".

    WHEN PC sales are driven by "replacement" (since pretty much everyone has a PC that wants one) and there are no artificial dis-incentives (read: requiring Win-10-nic pre-installed) you'll see a rebound in new PC sales as the economy continues to improve, and more people are adopting a "new normal" of frequent work-from-home.

    But certainly a LINUX OPTION on ALL PCs would be "a good start". Especially if you get a PRICE DISCOUNT for it!!!

    An alternative: pre-install virtualbox, and Win-10-nic in a VM, with a Linux host. yeah.

    1. katrinab Silver badge
      Meh

      Re: I think Lenovo is right

      Among El-Reg readers, maybe, though I think most of us would still wipe the disk and put our favourite distro on it with exactly the packages we want.

      I prefer FreeBSD, though for workloads that require Linux, they get a very minimalist Debian install.

      I shudder to think what crapware they would put on a Linux install.

    2. overunder Silver badge

      Re: I think Lenovo is right

      Forget all that garbage :-). How about a blank terminal with a blinking cursor to input simple commands which load graphical software?

      >login

      >web

      >files

      >office

      >logout

      How many rrrrrrrrrealy need more?

      1. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

        Re: Truth and fiction

        Years ago according to Microsoft selling a blank PC was illegal. There were probably threats to distributors who thought of doing so. The result was PCs with FreeDOS pre-installed. They cost extra because of the lack of crapware available for FreeDOS but there was enough software to confirm the computer could boot up, display something and respond to the keyboard. It was all you needed before wiping the disk and installing whatever you wanted.

        To be fair to Microsoft there was a licensing issue. Buying a complete Windows license was hard work. Although you could install Windows on a FreeDOS PC the license would be invalid because what you had almost certainly bought was an upgrade to the copy of Windows that was assumed to be bundled with the PC.

    3. Michael Habel Silver badge

      Re: I think Lenovo is right

      Hasn't this been tried to death, and beyond? The last great experiment being with Netbooks? No Normie will want to touch Linux, you might have more success getting them to switch to a BSD derivative, and by that I mean MacOS.

    4. Cliffwilliams44 Bronze badge

      Re: I think Lenovo is right

      The articles focus is obviously corporate buyers. Windows 10 is the default OS for corporate PCs now. We just rolled it out to over 2500 employees and the reaction was not at all bad from the user perceptive.

      As much as the NIX crowd would love for there to be a usable NIX OS on the corporate desktop it just does not seem to be anywhere near the point of happening. Microsoft owns the office suite space along with the corporate email space. As much as we all would love an alternative there just isn't one. LibreOffice just does not cut it. Excel has just to much BI functionality that LibreCalc doesn't. Also, there is not a replacement for Outlook on a NIX desktop, Evolution is a buggy POS, Thunderbird doesn't fully work without some hacks. You cannot ask people to give up the tools they have used to decades just because you don't want to pay a license to MS.

      1. TonyJ Silver badge

        Re: I think Lenovo is right

        "...The articles focus is obviously corporate buyers. Windows 10 is the default OS for corporate PCs now. We just rolled it out to over 2500 employees and the reaction was not at all bad from the user perceptive.

        As much as the NIX crowd would love for there to be a usable NIX OS on the corporate desktop it just does not seem to be anywhere near the point of happening. Microsoft owns the office suite space along with the corporate email space. As much as we all would love an alternative there just isn't one. LibreOffice just does not cut it. Excel has just to much BI functionality that LibreCalc doesn't. Also, there is not a replacement for Outlook on a NIX desktop, Evolution is a buggy POS, Thunderbird doesn't fully work without some hacks. You cannot ask people to give up the tools they have used to decades just because you don't want to pay a license to MS..."

        Totally agree.

        And with Azure / Office 365 (M365 Apps as they are now as well) and the close integration of them all it is even more in MS's favour.

        Store a document for collaborative working in Teams? Well that'll be backed off to OneDrive or SharePoint Online and accessible across devices even just a browser.

        Someone mashed said document? Roll it back a version or two.

        Don't want an on-premise domain infrastructure*? Fine - you can use Autopilot and InTune to manage Windows 10 devices as trivirally as if they were a mobile phone.

        Of course all of these things require an ongoing subscription to Microsoft but we all knew that was where they were heading but the point is for the vast majority of ordinary (corporate) users it just works and works together.

        For the ordinary domestic user - they will use whatever comes on the PC they bought from Dell or in PCW Currys as long as it looks like what they use at work or used to use before the new one they are buying.

        Inertia is a very powerful force here.

        *Granted it's easier with a greenfields site but the hybrid is heading more towards this every day.

      2. Tim99 Silver badge
        Windows

        Re: I think Lenovo is right

        There is a useable NIX OS for the corporate desktop. IBM use two. I posted this earlier:-

        ———-

        ...At the end of 2019 they (IBM) had ~290,000 Apple devices of which ~200,000 use macOS. At the same time they had 383,800 employees, obviously some employees will use more than one device. I have a relative who is a very senior IBM techie who told me that in his (large) part of IBM far more techies use Linux than Windows - He was also of the opinion that a number of IBMers elected to go to Apple rather than move from Windows 7 to 10.

        According to IBM, Mac users cost less to support with about 1/3 of the support personnel and are generally happier and more productive.

        https://www.zdnet.com/article/ibm-cio-mac-users-perform-better-more-engaged-than-windows-users/

        https://www.jamf.com/resources/press-releases/ibm-announces-research-showing-mac-enables-greater-productivity-and-employee-satisfaction-at-ibm/

        https://www.macrotrends.net/stocks/charts/IBM/ibm/number-of-employees

        ————

        OK - MS Office runs on OSX but not on Linux, but I’ve suspected for some time that MS really, really, wants more punters to use the web "friendly" Office 365 in a browser, and they themselves are now using some of their traditional back-end products like SQL Server on Linux. With the expected rise of ARM chips, perhaps there isn’t so much future for the traditional Windows PC?

      3. J. Cook Silver badge

        Re: I think Lenovo is right

        Also, line of business software: nearly all of our vendors are windows-centric for their server side and client side apps, and no 'nix ports are planned.

        Granted, a lot of these are specific niche industry applications, but still...

      4. 759b954e-617b-408b-a2b1-f5a42c3688d4

        Re: I think Lenovo is right

        "Thunderbird doesn't fully work without some hacks."

        Using a non-hacked Thunderbird here, no issues.

    5. IGotOut Silver badge

      Re: I think Lenovo is right

      "But Lenovo could improve this even more by offering pre-installed Linux on ALL systems!"

      Odd that the largest PC maker doesn't offer a such a niche request across it's entire range. I mean, why not completely redesign the supply chain to cater for the .001% of buyers who want Linux preinstalled, but are not technically competent to install it themselves?

  3. FelixReg

    What about support

    No-hassle-PCs will be very, very, very important. I'd think the Reg audience would be extremely sensitive to this. "Just-works" has been Apple territory, right? Or net-books?

    And, might a requirement for employment be some minimum level of net performance?

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Talk of the PC dying and being taken over by tablets and smartphones are over

    he's not an idiot, so a bullshitter.

  5. A K Stiles Silver badge
    Meh

    Homeworking / remote working

    I'm not so sure at this point. We have acquired a large number of laptop machines to enable home-working for a huge percentage of staff who were, until March, using desktop machines. Some of those desktop machines were certainly starting to creak a bit but I can't see most of those folks getting their desktops replaced when they now have a newer, more powerful laptop that will run a browser and office suite for them just fine. I think, for us, the next refresh cycle has essentially been rolled into the sudden need for everyone to be able to work remotely. At most I can see us needing to acquire laptop docs for the office and extra monitors to replace those people took home in March and will continue to require at home for the foreseeable.

    If we listen and acquiesce to their demands, also printers for everyone... (I hope not)

    1. SecretSonOfHG

      Re: Homeworking / remote working

      Oh yes, printers... complete with their paper/toner/ink supplies, their paper jams and printer drivers. Ah, the memories of those big stacks of paper on the output trays that were piling up for weeks because everyone deemed necessary to print everything but very few took the, apparently huge, effort of getting off their desk and pick up the printed paper from the tray. Every month we threw to the bin stacks of hundreds of neat colorful pages.

      Having printing buffered and started by swiping a personal card on the printer was the biggest cost saving measure in printing costs. Ever.

    2. Cliffwilliams44 Bronze badge

      Re: Homeworking / remote working

      On the printer situation you have to be firm. We have reduced printers to one or two mutli-function copiers per office. You get the inevitable "I have to print confidential information" to wit we reply "If it is confidential then you don't need to be printing it". We have been pushing the policy that printing is almost never required. Unless a hard copy is required by some regulation or government agency then "Do not print it!"

    3. David Hicklin

      Re: Homeworking / remote working

      I have not printed a work document since lockdown began, and it was pretty infrequent before then.

  6. SecretSonOfHG

    Remote working created additional demand

    From two sources: one, people realizing their 10 year old home PC was OK for getting cinema tickets, but not working 8 hours a day sitting in front of it. Second, businesses that implemented remote working in a rush by means of simply leaving your work PC always running and using RDP to use it from home, thus needing a second machine that in some cases has to be company provided.

    All this growth will be over when both markets are saturated, that is, home PCs are refreshed and mass remote working is either over or implemented properly.

  7. Alan Bourke

    Is it 'PC is dead' time again?

    I really enjoy this when it comes round every few years.

    1. IGotOut Silver badge

      Re: Is it 'PC is dead' time again?

      IDC say it every single year.

      Maybe at some point where "Death of the PC" and "Year of the Linux Desktop" actually meet, they will be right, but until then....

  8. Zippy´s Sausage Factory
    Meh

    I'd be surprised if they're right. The after effects of Corona are going to be quite bad financially - lots of companies gone under, lots of jobs lost. A new home PC isn't on the cards if you've lost your job, taken a pay cut or whatever. And companies struggling to survive will probably do their best to "make do".

    Optimism is great, but I'm not sure I agree with it at the moment. 2022? Well, maybe... if we're lucky.

    1. RM Myers Silver badge
      Unhappy

      2022? Do you mean the 732nd through the 1,097th day of 2020?

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