Here's Why PC Purists Shouldn't Panic Over Gartner's Latest Shipment Forecast

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ApathyCurve

Gartner offers custom-designed studies to clients on a per-pay basis. All I need to know is who paid for this study.

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RUSENSITIVESWEETNESS

News organizations have bought into the myth that the stock market is the best indicator of the American economy. Maybe it is . . . for 1% of Americans. Which is to say there exists a tendency to misread data in support of the entitled and privileged, a yearning to misrepresent a part as a whole, because of who would most benefit from the misrepresentation.

It is very trendy to declare the death of desktop computing and the supremacy of mobile. That prevailing sentiment is why I no longer subscribe to the print magazine. And I ask, does Nintendo constantly put itself down and hype the competition? If they did, who would buy their products or magazines? No one wants to be on a losing team, after all. I certainly won't subject myself to a constant feed of negativism.

Similarly, the constant, vitriolic ridiculing of Windows 8 critics has only fortified my opposition to the operating system, specifically, and Microsoft, in general. I do not want to associate with bullies or laugh it up with The Popular Kids at others' expense.

All of this is to say that the media and corporations should more carefully consider their use of titillating sound bites and elitist, condescending tonalities as meaningful commentary and argument. The practice can paint you into a corner. Furthermore, backtracking or otherwise changing tune can often sound insincere, even manipulative, once public ire has been raised.

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juusu

I wonder at what point chip manufacturers will consider the market for consumer CPUs and GPUs to be such a poor return on investment that they'll no longer develop the hardware and stick exclusively to professional parts instead?

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John Pombrio

MPC stated that enthusiast purchases of PC parts were in the billions of dollars annually. Not exactly a niche market.

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juusu

I hope so. I was taking into consideration the discussions going on where Intel is fretting over the estimation of cost for the overhauls to their fabs for 10nm costing upwards of $14 billion. That's why they're seeking out third parties to manufacture chips for, and are willing to produce competing ARM chips.

They delayed opening new fabs in option of ramping production in existing ones through producing third party chips. At some point I'm afraid they'll get better returns on using resources producing those than using it produce a little limited number of their own consumer desktop parts.

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JosephColt

Traditional desktops are dying breed.

Why have a traditional desktop when your tablet can connect to a display wirelessly(or cable) while letting you use a mouse/keyboard/gamepad on a Windows(or Linux) desktop? Then after your done go mobile with it anywhere you want.

A tablet that can connect to any device with or without cables and provide 80% or more of consumers with what they need on a Windows or Linux desktop will be great.

Hell, these days the majority of gamers just need a simple mini-itx system with a single graphics card and an i5 unless they are doing multiple monitors, 4k, or something crazy.

So basically John comes home, presses a button to connect to a display while using a mouse and keyboard to play Battlefield 10 on medium settings(?) off his Tablet, then he goes to his friends house, and presses a button to watch Netflix with friends.

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lordfirefox

Because you can't do Crossfire or SLI on them and you can't display across multiple monitors like Eyefinity, plus the games on them suck.

Desktop PC's are used for more than just work. And Consoles don't cut it either so don't even go there.

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JosephColt

I'm talking the future, 5, 10, 15 years... which is why I said a dying breed, not a dead one.

We will likely have the capability to do multi-monitor easily with tablets eventually. Who needs SLI or CF when your tablet powers all the games at 120FPS/120HZ? When you have a tablet running Windows you can play any game too.

Just picture it in your head, a gaming PC sitting there, now just replace the tower with a tablet; that is the future.

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juusu

While it may be the distant future, so long as we're stuck with CMOS transistors we'll never see mobile hardware that competes with desktop counterparts. Until MIT or somebody else comes up with a breakthrough in a whole new way of means of computation that doesn't utilize the traditional circuit design we'll be stuck at 2 or 3 nm and be forced to use 3d circuits which actually increases the size of the circuit and board packages. Perhaps in 10-20 years we will get passed the hurdle academically, but it will be another 5-10 years just to get anything past development, and it's almost certain it will not be competitive right away. It will take even longer for the technology to be innovated to the point of widespread adoption in consumer computers. Who knows if at that point they'd have reached today's tablet form factor? So maybe 25-45 years we could see some real change-up, but desktop has nothing to worry about as long as x86 remains profitable.

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JosephColt

That may be very well true, but with how fast technology is moving I expect it to get close within the next twenty years.

Just comparing 2003 to 2013 technology wise is a huge step.

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enonu

I'm looking forward to more and more use-cases moving out of the PC's realm, and the PC becoming more refined because of it. The PC should be about getting serious work done (e.g. finance), high-spec gaming, development, and content creation.

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Jaymondo

As I always say, Pcs are for do-ers and tablets and consoles are for users.

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John Pombrio

I have seen this trend a couple of time before. One was with netbooks, the other with large flatscreen TVs. Everyone just assumes that the asymptotic curve up and to the right will simply continue for years and years.

Soon tablets will do two things. One is to reach a saturation point in the developed countries. I am surprised that this has not already happened. The other is that so many companies are now or will be selling tablets that the cost will drop precipitously and unknown companies will start selling decent tablets and taking chunks of market share.

Will that boost PC sales? Not until Intel and MS can come up with a decent product line that adds a better user experience than they have now. It's doable and I think both are working towards that goal.

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fung0

Better PCs are indeed "doable," although it's debatable whether today's MS is up to the task of creating them.

But what really bugs me is that tablets have been arbitrarily defined as an alternative to the PC. A laptop is clearly a PC. Even netbook is a PC. But a tablet with a Bluetooth keyboard is not. What's the deciding factor? A Raspberry Pi is a PC, even if it's sold without a keyboard. I'll bet even a Chromebook is counted as a PC, just because it looks like a conventional laptop.

I've actually asked market research companies how they came up with this taxonomy, and they have no answer. Personally, I suspect it's because Apple very deliberately marketed the iPad as 'something other than a personal computer.' (It is the most crippled possible kind of computer, to be sure.) From then on, powerful multi-core tablet-form devices that run Android, BlackBerry OS, and even Linux have been uncritically counted as lost sales to the 'PC' industry.

And yet, a 'tablet' clearly IS a 'PC,' by any reasonable definition. It has a CPU, a GPU, working RAM, and mass storage. It has USB ports and Wi-Fi. It runs software applications (sorry: "apps"), and has an operating system.

Bottom line, if you ask a stupid question, you get a stupid statistic. Rather than saying PC sales are declining, it makes far more sense to observe that the choice of PC form factors is shifting... as it has done before, and will no doubt do again.

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Renegade Knight

If you think of a tablet and a PC as a tool. It's pretty easy to see that for some a tablet with a Bluetooth keyboard is all they need.

For what it's worth what makes something a PC vs. a Computing Device is the ability to install software you or a buddy wrote on it.

Android. Yes. iOS no. Windows RT. No. Windows and OS X yes. etc.

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fung0

That's a pretty reasonable rule. And the distinction is important, if you're trying to actually understand the market, not just spread negative propaganda about the PC.

Sales of Windows desktops have slowed, true enough. But Android will soon be on more devices than Windows. It's really only iOS, Windows RT and Windows Phone that are totally crippled, and they comprise a small and steadily diminishing slice of the pie. (A lucrative slice in Apple's case, but always a narrow one.)

So even though form factors are generally shrinking, and Windows is losing some of its dominance, 'personal computing' is growing, not declining.

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wolfing

the thing is, I only need one desktop computer, but I can definitely use 2-3 tablets in my house (I have one right now but considering a 2nd one, and keep the 1st one at the threadmill for example)

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Jeffredo

Its not the end of the desktop PC or the "post-PC" era coming on. Its market saturation. Its gotten to the point that pretty much everyone who wants/needs one has one and its most likely working fine. My sister has an Athlon64 3700+ with an AGP card. She's just now starting to think about replacing it with XP about to lose support because nothing she does was limited by the old hardware (browsing, WP, etc...).

Its like when color TVs came on the scene back in the 1960s. Every one rushed to buy one and eventually everyone had one and sales dropped. Things were in a static mode until HDTV came on the market and started the process all over again. No one ever said we were in a "post TV" era.

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don2041

I think you have summed up the whole question perfectly/