The elephant in the room – as both IDC and Gartner point out – is the end of Windows 7 driving adoption of new Windows 10 hardware by enterprise. That push is expected to continue into 2020 as IT departments play catch up to redeploy modern PCs with improved security standards based on Windows 10.
But there is plenty of anecdotal evidence that PCs are, once again, a significant category for everyone.
PC gaming is bigger than ever (IDC cites 16.5% year over year for Q2 2019, as one example). Many of those gaming PC and peripheral sales are laptops at nearly 45 percent. IDC estimates almost 10 percent year-over-year growth for all of 2019 in gaming PC-related categories.
While smartphone quarterly shipments (~332 million) dwarf PC and laptop (~72 million), it’s the former category that has seen stalling in shipments or even seeing a decline. Indeed, Q3 2019 smartphone shipments rose a very modest 1 percent – the first growth in two years according to Canalys. Smartphones, like PCs, have become ubiquitous and commodified, which just means it’s a mature market. Infinite or even double-digit growth in hardware shipments always peaks at some point.
Even at popular trade shows, like the just-wrapped CES 2020, smartphones are taking a back seat. Once, I skipped CES due to the lack of anything significant to cover, but in 2020, no less than 40 laptops were announced or refreshed with new hardware. Dell, Lenovo, HP, ASUS, Acer, and even smaller white-label brands were all out in force. Mobile World Congress (late February 2020) is also increasingly becoming a laptop show.
While the post-PC era never arrived, we are on the cusp of a new age of computing – one where traditional categories blur. What you think a computer is will be challenged, and that’s always exciting.
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