It’s no secret that desktop computer sales have declined sharply over the last two years. PC sales, which includes desktops and laptop devices, have recently posted an eighth successive quarter fall in sales; an unprecedented period of decline according to recent data published by Gartner.


IDC Research shows that Lenovo was the world’s biggest PC and laptop maker in 2016, with 21.7% of the market. HP and Dell occupied second and third place, with market shares of 20.4% and 14.8% respectively but no-one can deny the way we compute has changed. The PC market has been shrinking since 2012 and although 60 million PCs were sold in the first quarter of this year, that’s a decline of nearly 10% compared to the same quarter last year including laptop and desktop sales, the latter almost disappearing. Intel recently announced it will lay off one in ten of its workers as a direct result of the declining PC market. This amounts to 12,000 employees in 2017 as the company shifts away from the declining PC market towards the cloud and other devices.


worldwide PC shipments from 2006 to 2016 (in million units) 


Source: Gartner 


getting niche


Some manufacturers are addressing declining sales partly by getting niche. The Microsoft Surface Studio is designed specifically for the graphic design and print markets but has an eye on the consumer market too. It’s probably lower-spec’d than many hoped and it’s in short supply too but that will change and an upgraded spec with improved supply may make it a success. The Surface Studio is certainly a design statement and the dial is a great input device. How it fares in the typically Mac market stronghold will be interesting to see.

At the CES show this year hp launched 3 devices aimed at specific sectors. The hp slice is a small-form factor desktop, reminiscent of the Apple Mac Mini - add a screen and keyboard and go. The conferencing option is a nice twist. The hp Z3 claims to be the world’s first mini CAD Workstation, aimed at Architects, Engineers and Design markets. The Spectre X360 is a two-in-one; small form-factor notebook with flip-tablet option. There’s never been more compute options than there is right now…

tablets, smartphones, all-in-ones


The fall of the desktop tower mirrors the fast rise of smartphones and tablets, which is now levelling out. More portable, more practical for most tasks, these devices are now as firmly rooted in business as they are in the consumer market and have forced a re-think on BYOD and business IT spending patterns. Processor speed has got faster, storage has increased and additional screen options means that many portable devices can give a ‘near-desktop’ experience for most people, apart from gaming.

Whether it’s a Surface 4, iPad Pro or hpX3 there is little that the typical business person cannot do on these devices that they could do on a traditional PC. But it’s not just the hardware…


cloud & vdi


Cloud adoption has taken away storage woes on portable devices and with fast Wi-Fi or 4G (5G soon) it means that people can enjoy a near-LAN experience, wherever they are. This does of course raise security concerns; the traditional network perimeter has moved, or disappeared altogether, but this can be remedied with the right tiered security solutions and has further benefit - reliance on a uniform OS is gone too; I’m writing this article on an iPad, in Microsoft Word, connected to the company WAN through Citrix and tiered security. To be fair it doesn’t matter what the device or OS is: Windows, Mac OS, Linux, iOS or Android - Citrix works fine with all of them and provides total flexibility with appropriate levels of security too.

This device-agnostic approach allows organisations to re-think their endpoint compute estate. For desk-bound workers a terminal is far more practical and less costly than a desktop PC. Virtualised Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) has come of age and the increase is significant. IDC projects that the VDI market will rise from $3 billion in 2015 to $4.6 billion in 2020, an 8.9% compound annual growth rate. A relatively low-cost terminal, some the size of a credit-card, will perform almost all the functions of a desktop computer but there are still some areas; marketing, graphic design and CAD, which have been unsuited to terminal-based computing. Now even this is changing. By hosting graphics-intense applications in Azure, people benefit from anywhere access to a shared resource. Organisations can benefit from lower costs, as they save money not only by sharing the resource, but by de-allocating the instance when not in use to reduce hourly compute costs.


beyond the smartphone


The biggest thing this year has been the rise of Digital Assistants with voice control - Alexa, Cortana and Siri, all competing to help you... virtually. So, will we replace crowds of phone zombies with people mumbling into wearables? Possibly, but rather like Google Glass it depends if you want to wear the tech. Phone screens have got larger but you still need a bigger visual for many aspects of the compute experience, however, this is one part of the technology sector that is hot with innovation, so whether that’s display sleeves, AR Glasses or foldable screens, the next decade will probably see other shifts in the compute experience.

If you'd like some help with cloud, VDI or devices, contact us today.