PCs are starting to sell in a big way again, according to the latest data released by market research firm IDC. The worldwide PC market grew by 24.2 percent in the first quarter of 2010, representing a dramatic turnaround from one year ago when the market declined by 7 percent.
"The strong first quarter builds on the fourth quarter rebound and shows rising confidence in the PC supply chain and commercial client base along with persistent demand from consumers," said Loren Loverde, vice president, IDC Worldwide Trackers. "The commercial gains are a cornerstone of market rebound that we have been expecting and are now seeing in the data."
For the most part, the PC market has suffered through a series of quarterly declines dating back to the third quarter of 2008. IDC attributed the recent upswing to the continued recovery in emerging markets, improved business segments, and the growth of specialized products such as all-in-one PCs.
All the major PC vendors benefited from the growth, but none more than Lenovo, which saw a 58.3 percent year-over-year increase in sales. Not surprising, Acer wasn't far behind with a 42.5 percent increase.
In what research firm Gartner is calling a "robust recovery" in certain parts of the world, PC shipments around the globe ballooned to 84.3 million units in the first quarter of 2010. That's a 27.4 percent increase from the same quarter in 2009, and higher than the 22 percent growth Gartner had predicted.
"The stronger-than-expected growth was led by a robust recovery in the Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) PC market, which grew 24.8% in the first quarter of 2010," said Mikako Kitagawa, principal analyst at Gartner. "All other regions recorded double-digit growth rates, although the US and Latin America were slightly lower than what we had expected.
"These first-quarter results indicate that the professional PC market is gradually picking up, driven by PC replacements in mature markets," Kitagawa said. "With a relatively positive macroeconomic outlook, business demand was more forthcoming. Major PC replacement demand driven by Windows 7 will become more apparent in the second half of 2010 and the beginning of 2011."
PC shipments in the US totaled 17.4 million units in the first quarter, representing a 20.2 percent growth rate from one year ago. That's the second consecutive quarter of double-digit shipment growth. Toshiba was a big benefactor in all this, which saw shipments jump by 50 percent as the result of competitive pricing and promotions.
Memory makers just can't seem to a get a grip on supply and production and have now put themselves in a position where there's less than one month's worth of DRAM inventory left, says Pei-Lin Pai, a spokesperson for Nanya Technology. As a result of the chip shortage, first-tier PC makers are having a tough time getting the memory parts they need to fulfill orders.
This tighter supply has driven prices up in recent months, but even so, Pai says the majority of its PC clients haven't dropped any orders. Nanya has already raised prices for April by 10 percent, a good tick above the industry's average of 4-6 percent growth. DRAM pricing isn't likely to change much more, Pai says, and already customers have begun placing orders for the third quarter.
In the grand scheme of things, this tight supply isn't likely to have a huge impact on PC shipments, says Joanne Chien, senior analyst at DigiTimes Research. At the same time, high and rising prices could present an issue, as PC makers will have to decide how much of that cost to pass on to consumers and how much they can afford to swallow in lost profits.
When Asus first showed off the Eee Keyboard , no one actually expected it to ship. It was more an exercise in engineering than a product people would buy. But after a number of delays, the Eee Keybaord is on its way to shipping later this month. Asus really promises to ship it this time, and we're willing to believe them for now.
The Eee Keybard is basically a netbook's chipset in a keyboard form factor. There is an integrated 5-inch 480x800 resolution capacitive touchscreen display in place of the number pad. It has an Atom N270 and runs Windows XP. Though, Asus has added a skin to XP making it more finger-friendly. Users will also find 1GB of RAM and the option for either 16 or 32GB SSDs. The real star here is the addition of Ultra-Wideband (UWB) for wireless audio and video. The Eee Keyboard will come with a small receiver to plug into a TV or monitor allowing the signal to be streamed from the safety of the couch.
In its original form, the Eee Keyboard didn't make much sense for anything. With the UWB technology, it has at least a shot at being a passable media center PC. The price is expected to be between $400 and $600. Anyone going to take one of these for a spin?
The war between Macs and PCs (as in, Windows-based) is far from over, but the battle tactics might be shifting, at least on Apple's end. According to an interview with Justin Long, the actor who portrays a Mac in the "Get a Mac" ads, Apple might be ending the famed advertising campaign.
"You know, I think they might be done," Long told the Onion's A.V. Club. "In fact, I heard from John [Hodgman], I think they're going to move on -- I can't say definitively -- which is sad, because not only am I going to miss doing them, but also working with John. I've become very close with him, and he's one of my dearest, greatest friends. It was so much fun to go do that job, because there's not a lot to it for me. A lot of it is just keeping myself entertained between takes, and there's no one I'd rather do it with than John."
It should be noted that Apple hasn't made any official statement regarding an ad campaign that first started back in 2006, so it's entirely possible that more "Get a Mac" ads are in the pipeline. But if they are finished, the question is, will they be missed?
Will Google's departure from China prove to be a harbinger of things to follow? Going by a report in a leading Indian newspaper, the answer is quite likely to be found in the vicinity of a “yes.” A report on Google's exit from China in the Hindustan Times carries a quote from the Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on the prospect of another American tech giant shutting shop in China. The Indian premier is reported to have told the country's Planning Commission that Dell is about to shutter its China operations.
The Indian head of government is quoted as having told the Planning Commission,“This morning I met the chairman of Dell Corporation. He informed me that they are buying equipment and parts worth $25 billion from China. They would like to shift to safer environment with climate conducive to enterprise with security of legal system." Although it is difficult to discount anything that quotes a country's leader as its source, it is still wise to wait for a clearer picture to emerge.
But there is no denying the fact that the Chinese government has plenty to ponder in the aftermath of Google's exit. The Chinese economy may not be under any real threat of a collapse, for the dragon can only founder in the face of an exodus of foreign companies, but it will surely have its hand forced if a few more foreign businesses grow a conscience or leave in search of a more stable environment. It now knows that businesses are not entirely shy of moving out in search of “safer” alternatives, where they are immune from the whims of a government adamant on making everyone fall in line.
In the pantheon of nerd achievement, water cooling ranks near the top—somewhere between installing Linux and becoming fluent in Klingon. And there’s a reason the hardest of the hardcore prefer water cooling: It’s incredibly effective at lowering the temperatures of core system components. With higher thermal conductivity and specific heat capacity than air coolers, water cooling can mean double-digit drops in CPU and GPU temperatures.
However, water cooling isn’t exactly a walk in the park. You’ve got two challenges ahead of yourself: Designing the water-cooling system that’s right for your PC, and actually putting it together. Both tasks will take some time and effort, but neither has to be daunting. Every first-time water-cooling build is a learn-as-you go experience, but we’ll walk you through the details and help you avoid the mistakes that would take the biggest toll on your system and your wallet.
There's never been a better time to be an enthusiast. Most hardware is at an all time low, at least in terms of bang for the buck, and it doesn't take a hefty investment to build an all-around workhorse. Where does that leave the ultra-high end segment, particularly gamers?
According to Jon Peddie Research (JPR), some 46 percent of the dollars spent on PC gaming hardware were directed toward what the firm calls the "Enthusiast class." These are the dudes that shop only top-shelf products and don't think twice about spending a grand on a CPU or splurging on a pair of videocards, speedy SSDs, specialized gaming grade mice, and other related components.
By 2013, however, JPR says these folks will lose market share to the "Performance" and "Mainstream" classes from 46 percent to 35 percent of dollars spent. Why so?
"PC hardware has caught up to most of the software and people are able to play computationally intensive games on Performance level systems," explains Ted Pollack, Video Game Industry Analyst for JPR. "Performance systems now even support high resolution for all but the most demanding simulation and FPSs. The frequency of DirectX updates is also driving some people toward mid-range GPUs."
Even so, JPR says the high end will always be a good market, even as it loses ground to more pedestrian parts. According to JPR, despite the expected loss in market share, the Enthusiast class will still grow overall, from $9.5 billion to almost $12.5 billion in 2013.
What class do you fall into? Hit the jump and tell us the kind of hardware you're most likely to buy.
Michael Concannon, Qualcomm CDMA Technologies' senior vice president of connectivity and wireless modules, told Cnet that most of the leading PC makers have chosen its Gobi modem chipsets for their laptops, with around 100 laptop models currently on the market boasting Gobi 3G modems.
Should your IT department consider switching to Macs? Perhaps, if the only criteria is the cost of management. That's because according to a new survey by the Enterprise Desktop Alliance, IT admins feel that Macs have lower management costs than PCs.
The survey pinged 260 IT admins from large organizations with both Macs and PCs, and in some categories -- such as troubleshooting, user training, and help desk calls -- three times as many respondents said that Macs are easier on the wallet to manage.
"Administrators in organizations that have both Mac and PC platforms have the experience to determine whether managing Macs is less expensive," said T. Reid Lewis, CEO of Group Logic, and president of the Enterprise Desktop Alliance. "The members of the Enterprise Desktop Alliance provide products and services that make deployment and management of Macs easier to do."
Perhaps most surprising is that the respondents rated every category in the Macs' favor, including system configuration. You can read the full survey results here (PDF).
Are you buying the survey results? Hit the jump and sound off!