As we discussed in this space in February, the machine that revolutionized the IT industry by putting computing capability on the desktops of people everywhere has become obsolete. Today, you could connect a wireless keyboard to your smartphone and have more computing power than you had with the second desktop you owned. And, more importantly, you could do all the things you want to do today. Gartner, Inc, the respected market research firm , has announced that worldwide PC sales declined by 10.9% in Q2 2013. This is the fifth consecutive quarterly decline., the longest in the history of the PC market.
Microsoft Market Leverage Declines
In the good old days in the PC business—back in the 90s—millions of units were sold each MONTH through the channel, and millions more by direct provider Dell. In those days, the release of a new version of Windows would dramatically produce a big increase in units sold. Microsoft actually drove the market. Now, it is worth noting that the release of Windows 8 occurred during the declining quarter. The new Widows version didn’t create a pop in sales, it couldn’t even prevent a decline. Microsoft used to be successful by piggybacking its operating system sales to PC sales. MS didn’t really need to market and sell Windows, it just had to control the PC manufacturers and make sure that Windows was shipped with each box. There are clear implications in the new market for Microsoft. The two leading PC producers are Lenova, with a 16.7% share of the market and 12,677,265 units sold. HP is in 2nd place ,with 16.3% share and 12,402,887 units. It’s interesting that HP has recently teamed with Microsoft’s adversary, Google, to market PCs bundled with Google’s cloud -based office suite that competes directly with Microsoft’s Office software product. This is confusing to HP’s channel distribution partners, who for years have been tied closely to—even receiving direction and support (dollars for marketing programs) from—Microsoft. So, while Google competes with Microsoft’s Office and Windows products, and Microsoft tries to Bing Google’s search service, businesses have decided they don’t need employees to sit at their desks inputting to and/or reporting from cumbersome custom applications that run on the expensive server in the basement (think TPS reports), and the endusers have decided that they certainly don’t need over-built and under-supported desktop computing systems at home to search or to use the non- cumbersome personal apps, which are all increasingly available for mobile devices. The desktop PC is obsolete. A second revolution— replacement of the desktop by mobile devices has occurred. The PC taught us, and made endusers of all of us. Now, light, fast, ubiquitous mobile products have become more convenient and they provide enough capability for what we want to do—-at least until the technology of the cloud and the need for Big Data and Big Screens puts pressure on the capability of the device at hand.
Bill Patch, August 8, 2013