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back to article Thought the PC market couldn't get any worse? HAH! Think again

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, …

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But with the advent of touch ... we will see a rebound in traditional notebooks

£5 says you won't

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Re: But with the advent of touch ... we will see a rebound in traditional notebooks

not while they push out notebooks with sh*t resolution, glossy screens etc

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Re: But with the advent of touch ... we will see a rebound in traditional notebooks

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?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: But with the advent of touch ... we will see a rebound in traditional notebooks

>"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?

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Re: But with the advent of touch ... we will see a rebound in traditional notebooks

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).

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Re: But with the advent of touch ... we will see a rebound in traditional notebooks

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.

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Angel

Re: But with the advent of touch ... we will see a rebound in traditional notebooks

"What the hell is wrong with them?"

Everything is very cosy in the ivory tower and we're all very smart people of here. Please don't bother us.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: But with the advent of touch ... we will see a rebound in traditional notebooks

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.

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Re: But with the advent of touch ... we will see a rebound in traditional notebooks

"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.

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Surely it's becoming apparent

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.

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JDX
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Re: Surely it's becoming apparent

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.

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Re: getting your home network up and running without a PC is a faff.

That's what we call a business opportunity

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@JDX

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 .....

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Stop

Re: Surely it's becoming apparent

"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.

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xyz
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Re: Surely it's becoming apparent

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

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Gav
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Boffin

Re: Surely it's becoming apparent

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.

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Happy

Re: Surely it's becoming apparent

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.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Surely it's becoming apparent

"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.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Surely it's becoming apparent

That may be so, but forcing the other 80% into trying something other than consumption or merely being "a user" was good since without experiencing something you can't really determine if you like it or not.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: @JDX

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.

Tablets are a single screen, some things are better with big multiple screens and a proper keyboard.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Surely it's becoming apparent

Which is great until you:

a. Lose your phone.

b. Phone dies

c. Phone is stolen

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Paris Hilton

Re: Surely it's becoming apparent

"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!

Obviously ----------------------------->

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Re: @JDX

Have not found anything that matches my big ole box for composing and editing large books, editing long videos, crunching through big computations etc. Slabs are lifestyle, and desktop blocks are for work. So I have one of each, and can't see changing for a long while.

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Re: @JDX

"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.

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Re: getting your home network up and running without a PC is a faff.

"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.

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Re: @JDX

> 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.

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Re: Surely it's becoming apparent

> Which is great until you:

Going to the theatre with printed tickets in your wallet is great until you:

a: Lose your wallet

b: Leave it in your other trousers

c: Wallet is stolen.

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Re: Surely it's becoming apparent

"getting your home network up and running without a PC is a faff"

Yes. But, unfortunately for the merchants, any _old_ PC will do.

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Mushroom

Re: Surely it's becoming apparent

> 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.

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Re: Surely it's becoming apparent

"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.

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PJI
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Re: @JDX

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.

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Re: Surely it's becoming apparent

"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).

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Surely it's becoming apparent

'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.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: @AC 16:34

Not sure why you bothered to post that. The OP said niche applications would still require PCs.

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Re: @JDX

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.

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Meh

I am not shocked.

PC computing power has pretty much flat lined, so businesses are holding onto the kit for longer, and just re imaging when they need to upgrade..

The PC markets will shrink back down to a more reasonable level.

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Re: Meh

I agree. I read all of these articles about how it's all Microsoft's fault, but the fact remains that there is no compelling reason to replace a 4 year old computer unless it dies. A new one won't make a noticeable difference in speed or power

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Re: Meh

So if Microsoft managed to make a new OS that was such a resource hog that it completely bogged down last years machine - it would revitalise the PC industry?

Why didn't anyone tell them?

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Boffin

Re: Meh

"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.

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Pint

Re: Meh

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.

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Re: Meh

Spot on.

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.

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Re: New PCs are scary, scary fast.

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.

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Anonymous Coward

47 million isnt that bad,with so much more tech to spend money on these days.

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Anonymous Coward

People may dislike Windows 8...

...but they'd rather not buy a PC at all rather than install Linux, according to these figures

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Linux

Re: People may dislike Windows 8...

> ...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.

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Re: People may dislike Windows 8...

Maybe they have installed linux - so their old box is working better??

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Anonymous Coward

Re: People may dislike Windows 8...

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

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Re: People may dislike Windows 8...

> Windows 8 may be/is crap but it's still more widely used than all the Linux distros combined.

Android is a Linux distro.

(it may not be a GNU/Linux distro, but it has Linux kernel just like all the others)

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Linux

Re: People may dislike Windows 8...

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2013/07/11/chromebooks_fastest_growing_pc_market/

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Anonymous Coward

Re: People may dislike Windows 8...

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?

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