The Real Reasons PC Sales are Dropping – and Why It’s Not the End of the Enterprise Desktop

IDC just announced that global PC sales are down for the second year in a row, with enterprise desktop sales in particular to get hit especially hard  by 4.2 per cent compared to the overall 1.3 per cent PC slump. These statistics buoy the anti-enterprise desktop brigade, which is rallying for tablets and mobile devices to replace the workplace PC. But mobility is only part of the poor PC purchases picture, and it’s not even for the reason many people assume. Here are some of the factors contributing to the drop in enterprise desktop sales  and why the trend likely doesn’t signal the end of the PC.

Waiting for the new OS upgrade

We’re a year away from the end of support for Windows XP, yet it’s still too early for many organisations to procure new PC hardware to accompany a refresh, which is likely why IDC has said it expects enterprise desktop sales to begin bouncing back in the second half of 2013. Whilst this might be the case for upgrades to Windows 7, Datacom has found that some organisations already using that OS are waiting to see if Windows 8 adoption increases amongst enterprises. If it doesn’t, these organisations might skip Windows 8 altogether and hold on to Windows 7 or wait for the next OS, reported to be called Windows Blue and due for release mid-year. These scenarios will all contribute to whether the IDC’s prediction of resumed positive PC growth for 2014 to 2017 will in fact come true.

Mobility first  but not in place of enterprise desktops

IDC has reported that mobility is factoring into declining PC sales, but it’s more because organisations are choosing to buy enterprise mobile devices before, not in place of, new enterprise desktops. Instead of taking a side in enterprise desktop vs. mobile, organisations are attempting to have a well-rounded device profile that incorporates PCs, tablets and phones. It makes sense then that they’d hold onto their current enterprise desktops until an OS upgrade forces them to refresh, choosing instead to stockpile less costly enterprise mobile devices to be used for optimised capabilities such as answering emails and video and audio conferencing. A separate IDC report shows organisations are still favouring enterprise desktops, particularly laptop PCs, to both create and consume content.

Enduring PC processing speeds

recent PCWorld column posits that desktop sales are declining because CPU performance has reached a point where it is fast enough for average users to be able to use their PCs for twice as long as the old three-year refresh standard suggests. This has to do with both the evolution of processing speeds and more resource-intensive processes or applications shifting from being desktop-based to being delivered through cloud computing. Organisations where the bulk of PC users rely on their enterprise desktops for email or business applications  and even some of these might be cloud-based or accessed mostly from mobile devices — won’t require as regular upgrades to PCs with faster CPU performance. Their enterprise desktops will continue to perform better for longer.

Are you planning an enterprise desktop refresh in the coming year, or are your prioritising the procurement of mobile devices over PCs for your organisation?

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