updated 08:35 am EST, Thu March 8, 2012
Gartner expects no bounce back from Windows 8
PC sales won't significantly bounce back in 2012, Gartner estimated on Thursday. Analysts saw shipments growing just 4.4 percent this year over last, to 368 million units, as PC builders played "catch-up" to tablets and other mobile hardware in interesting features. Research lead Ranjit Atwal didn't share the optimism of Intel or Microsoft and saw neither MacBook Air-inspired ultrabooks nor Windows 8 as automatic foils to the iPad and the collective Android tablet space.
Established PC markets would still be dominated by people replacing existing systems, with shipments there "much less" than in developing countries where just having any computing technology was still newer. These countries would keep playing a larger part, going from half of new growth in 2011 to 70 percent by 2016 in a long-ranging prediction.
Conventional computers had obstacles as they were no longer absolutely necessary or even necessarily superior for certain tasks. Cloud services reduced the dependency on the desktop, Atwal said, and what advantages PCs had in creating content might be offset by a better experience consuming it on tablets. Regardless of factors, neither Intel nor Microsoft could make assumptions that people would turn to the PC first.
"Consumers will now look at a task that they have to perform, and they will determine which device will allow them to perform such a task in the most effective, fun and convenient way," the researcher said. "The device has to meet the user needs[,] not the other way round."
Although Windows 8 may significantly change the field, its release is only expected roughly in October, well after the release of the new iPad and a crop of newer Android tablets. Most Windows-based ultrabooks so far sell in considerably smaller numbers than does the MacBook Air, and they may only get a breakout feature through touchscreens once Windows 8 appears. No guarantee exists that Windows 8 will be warmly received, and any possible Vista-like backlash could exacerbate PC troubles rather than help them.