Rumours of the PC's death are greatly exaggerated, if new figures released by two analyst companies are anything to go by. According to Gartner, worldwide PC shipments grew by 27.4% in the first quarter of this year, reaching 84.3 million units. And the worldwide market for PCs grew by a more modest 24.2% to 79.1 million in the same period, according to IDC. Whichever company's figures one believes, the PC market is unexpectedly healthy as we struggle out of a recessionary period this year.
The figures suggest that PC shipments are approaching one million units each day. This will be a welcome figure for the likes of HP (which both IDC and Gartner ranked as the top vendor in unit terms). Acer, Dell, and Lenovo placed second, third, and fourth in both analyst firms' figures. Toshiba makes fifth place in IDC's rankings, and sixth in Gartner's world, lagging very slightly behind ASUS.
The PC market today stands in stark contrast to the market of a year ago, which saw the worst decline since 2001, according to Gartner. Back then, IDC says that the market declined by almost 7%. So, we must acknowledge that the recovery is bound to be notable following such a dramatic shift in fortunes during the economic crisis. The PC market is now benefiting from the delayed technology refresh effect. Many companies will be anxious to replace ageing equipment running older operating systems. Interest in Windows 7 will sustain some of this growth as we move through this year and into the next, according to Gartner executives.
That said, it would be foolish to underemphasise the positive effect of consumer demand. Mini notebook PCs have done particularly well in the EMEA region, for example.
What does this mean for the ongoing move to cloud computing? Organisations such as Google have been heavily promoting the move away from the PC, with a key executive in Ireland recently predicting that the PC would become irrelevant as the world embraced mobile platforms in the next few years.
Although mini notebook PCs and other portable PC devices have done well, IDC also points out that desktop PCs are holding their own. In the last quarter, shipments rose, reversing a series of quarterly declines that began in the third quarter of 2008. IDC puts this down to continued recovery in emerging markets, a more positive and receptive business environment and growing interest in specialised designs such as all-in-one PCs with touch sensitive screens (HP is a particularly strong company in this area). Thus, desktop PCs are getting support in all sectors.
So while cloud computing is undoubtedly gaining credence, the PC market continues to look in good health.
After a Masters in Computer Science, I decided that I preferred writing about IT rather than programming. My 20-year writing career has taken me to Hong Kong and London where I've edited and written for IT, business and electronics publications. In 2002 I co-founded Futurity Media with Stewart Baines where I continue to write about a range of topics such as unified communications, cloud computing and enterprise applications.