After years of speculation about the death of personal computers (PCs), analysts at Gartner are urging users to put down the shovel. A recent report released by the company suggests that PC shipments could reach 317 million by 2015, up from the 308 million units expected this year. Additionally, PC shipments are projected to decline 2.9%, which is considerably better than last year’s decrease of 9.5%, and proves to be a continued improvement over recent years.
The International Data Corporation (IDC) Worldwide Quarterly PC Tracker contributed even further to this favorable outlook by reporting the smallest decline in two years in global PC shipments during the second quarter of 2014. The 74.4 million PCs that were shipped worldwide reflected a year-on-year deficit of -1.7%, proving significantly better than the projected decline of -7.1%.
“2014 will be marked by a relative revival of the global PC market,” said Ranjit Atwal, Research Director at Gartner.
While the fate of the PC seemed to be sealed during the tablet and smartphone boom of the last few years, there has been a sudden shift towards multi-computational corporations and consumers. Whereas it was once believed that users would choose only one type of technology to conduct the daily goings-on of their lives, many have instead begun using computers to work, and tablets and smartphones for entertainment and communication purposes.
“PCs are great for information creation, where tablets and smartphones are better for information consumption,” said Zeus Kerravala, an analyst at ZK Research.
Further aiding the PC revival, Atwal spoke about the rehabilitation of aging machines being driven by upgrades to Windows XP-systems after Microsoft announced it would no longer support the OS back in April. “Business upgrades from Windows XP and the general business replacement cycle will lessen the downward trend,” he said. “This year, we anticipate nearly 60 million professional PC replacements in mature markets.”
A recent blog post by the Vice-President of Product Management in the Java Platform Group at Oracle, Henrik Stahl, seemed to offer a glimpse into the future of such upgrades. Despite the company’s initial announcement that they would no longer provide official support for Java on Windows XP, Stahl notes that Oracle “expects all versions of Java that were supported prior to the Microsoft de-support announcement will continue to work on Windows XP for the foreseeable future.”
Dedicated users of the operating system will continue to receive security updates for Java 7 until April of next year, although Stahl is quick to point out that since Windows X is no longer receiving updates by Microsoft, complete guarantees of a secure and stable system cannot be upheld and users’ OS will be at risk.
Regardless of Microsoft’s announcement, many PCs are still running Windows XP. The demand for system upgrades, along with an improved market outlook, has helped fuel corporate renewals and trigger increased demand in the enterprise space, as well as the commercial segment. The IDC noted that the top 5 PC vendors worldwide saw their market share grow 9.8% year-on-year in their report, and the United States was one of three countries that showed the strongest growth, which reflects a sign of stability.
Although the PC market is not ready to let go just yet and almost seems poised for resurgence, a few industry analysts continue to question the promise of a full recovery.
“An important part of this strength is driven by the rebound from weaker demand last year and to potentially short-term replacement activity,” said Loren Loverde, the Vice President of Worldwide PC Trackers. “We can look for some recovery in emerging regions going forward, but it may coincide with slower growth in mature regions. We do not see the recent gains as motive to raise the long-term outlook, although 2014 growth could get closer to flat.”
Whatever the case may be, there is one thing that cannot be denied – it’s time to replace those old PCs and fire up new, powerful machines to help us get more work done faster. After all, the PC isn’t dead just yet.