The global PC market has been in decline since 2011. There have been only a few countries that have bucked the trend of fewer PCs sold each year, and less money continues to be spent on PCs than the year before. Windows 10 will contribute to pent-up demand for new products in 2016 and 2017, and by the second half of 2016, more companies will be starting Windows 10 deployments, which will create additional demand from enterprise users.
This combined effect pushes global PC spending growth slightly positive by 2017. However, it doesn’t benefit the installed base. As the chart below shows, there are fewer PCs installed every year.
Windows 10 won’t change this trend, it can’t change this trend, and most importantly, it wasn’t meant to.
PCs had their strongest growth in sales and installed base when there was no competition. If you wanted to be on the Internet, if you wanted to create or consume digital content, you had to have a PC.
The PC saturated its markets, putting multiple PCs in every household. Once users were given options; tablets, smartphones and even phablets, PC sales suffered. Devices with mobility, light weight, easier operation, all-day batteries and lower price points cannibalized PC sales. The PC’s operating system was not the problem then, so it cannot be the salvation now.
The market is still rebalancing. PC sales continue to decline, and tablets are the preferred consumption device. But new lightweight PCs have emerged that can compete with tablets as an all-day carry device. Made possible by Ivy Bridge architecture in 2013, which has improved steadily since, the new ultramobile premium devices, such as Microsoft’s Surface, now compete with tablets on four fronts; mobility, light weight, all-day batteries and lower price. Windows 10 is targeted at the last of the tablet’s differentiators – ease of use and empowering users.
The global installed base for desktops and laptops will decline for at least five more years, nothing changes that. However, the PC ecosystem now has a Windows 10 device that can re-engage users in the thin, light, all-day ultramobile devices that pack the power of a PC. Ultramobile premium devices halt the decline in PC shipments in 2017 and halt the decline of the PC installed base in 2019.
Gartner analysts discussed the impact of the PC market on overall IT spending during the complimentary Gartner webinar “IT Spending Forecast, 3Q15 Update: Four IT Innovations You Missed.”