Two more or less simultaneous research polls just released show sales of traditional PCs in significant decline, although actually surpassing the even more pessimistic expectations of analysts. As recorded in the International Data Corporation (IDC) Worldwide Quarterly PC Tracker, “worldwide PC shipments totaled 68.5 million units in the first quarter of 2015 (1Q15), a year-on-year decline of -6.7 percent, and slightly ahead of previous projections.” Gartner, meanwhile, recorded a 5.2 percent year-on-year quarterly decline in global PC shipments for 1Q15. With PC sales continuing to fall, ebook enthusiasts should be looking hard at their choice of reading platform for the future – or should they?

For one thing, both sets of analysts confirm that some classes of PCs are faring much worse than others. “The strength from key vendors, adoption of emerging products, improvements in the consumer market and in the broader economy are all positive signals,” said Rajani Singh, Senior Research Analyst, Personal Computing, at IDC. Meanwhile, Mikako Kitagawa, principal analyst at Gartner, said: “Mobile PCs, including notebooks, hybrid and Windows tablets, grew compared with a year ago … Desk-based PC shipments declined rapidly, with business desk-based PCs being impacted the most. Mobile PCs are being driven by a separate underlying replacement cycle, which led mobile growth in the first quarter.”

So the figures appear to bear out the view that the fragmentation and growing diversification of the PC market has got Microsoft off the desktop – or even the lap – and into some fast-growing new product categories. “PC replacements will be driven by thin and light notebooks with tablet functionality,” added Kitagawa. “Our early study suggests strong growth of hybrid notebooks, especially in mature markets, in 1Q15.” Also, we’re starting to see innovations like the Intel Compute Stick, forecast to retail for $149, which bid fair to put Windows into even more and more diverse form factors. With developments like these in the offing, it’s likely that Windows – and Microsoft – will be around for a very long time. It’s Redmond, Jim, but not as we know it …


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