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PC Market in Free Fall?

Is the PC market collapsing? Global shipments of PCs are down almost 14 percent over last year, the biggest drop since market-research firm IDC started tracking the data in 1994. And, as the WSJ reports, a private-equity firm has withdrawn a bid for the PC-maker Dell:

[Private-equity firm] Blackstone on Thursday told a special Dell board committee negotiating a sale of the company that, after weeks of review, it wouldn’t be moving ahead with a bid. It cited an “unprecedented” decline in PC sales and Dell’s “rapidly eroding financial profile.” […]

The New York firm’s retreat was the latest jolt in one of the biggest takeover dramas in years, a fight that is increasingly representing a referendum on the future of the PC business.

It looks like these dudes aren’t getting a dell.

The assumption has always been that there was an almost infinite demand for more powerful and faster computers. But maybe Moore’s Law has brought us to a new frontier. Maybe business users don’t see the need to run Excel a little faster.

It seems to us less likely that humanity has come to the end of its demand for more processor power than that software industry hasn’t developed the new killer apps that turn the next PC generation from shiny toys to must-have working tools.

It has never been raw processing power that drives the IT revolution but the software engineers who figure out how to make that power useful.

[Blue screen of death image courtesy of Wikimedia.]

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  • Andrew Allison

    I think perhaps the software engineers invented the (PC-)killer app (browsers) some time ago, and yesterday’s PC are more than up to the task. Ditto for email and basic document app.

    The real problem faced by the Personal computer is that most of those needs can now be met with smartphones and tablets; and the problem faced by the PC duopoly is those products use neither Windows nor, for the most part, x86 processors.

  • cubanbob

    I’m typing this with a seven year old Macbook. it’s getting a little slow mainly due to constant upgrades to software that should have been better written to begin with. My office desktop is also a seven year old IMac running Windows XP it still works fine. Again the slowness isn’t due to the processor or memory but simply bloatware. And Windows 8 isn’t exactly marvelous either according to reports. Interesting enough neither Apple or Microsoft seem to be doing to well on Wall Street lately.

  • Lorenz Gude

    As Andrew Allison points out we are in a period of change with Arm processors taking a big part of the load of everyday computing from x86 on Windows or Mac. I like using my iPad and recently bought the Samsung based ChromeBook for trips, but as a photographer I can still use all the processing power I can get to manipulate photos. I’m about to operate on my 2011 i7 based Mac Mini and install an SSD because I am sick of watching the little color wheel as it grinds through things like B&W conversions. I’ll keep a Windows 7 machine going too because there is just some software that only runs on Windows (the Australian Tax Office’s e-tax) or better on Windows (The allegedly multi platform Gimp). Bottom line – I don’t think PCs or Windows are blue screen, just having trouble digesting Windows 8 and the move to touch. Mary Jo Foley reports a rumor that Blue – aka Windows 9 – will bring back the Start button but not the start menu. I think that will keep the corporates happy and they will go Blue when Win 7 gets long in the tooth.

  • MadAnthony

    The author’s point about there not being apps requiring faster computers, and commenter’s point about the rise of the tablet and smartphone are part of the reason for the drop in PC’s. But from a corporate IT standpoint, I think there are also a lot of companies looking at Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) or at using virtual PC’s accessed either thru thin clients or older PC’s. While I suspect that there won’t be nearly the savings that many of the proponents are suggesting, i suspect that a lot of organizations are cutting back on PC buying with plans to roll out one or more of these strategies.

  • Merina Smith

    I was hoping you meant that political correctness was in free fall. I could get behind that.

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