Posted in: Hardware, Special Report
Okay, you’re alive and on planet earth. You probably already know what last week’s IDC report on global shipments of PCs confirmed for the rest of the world’s inhabitants: PC sales are falling off and demand for mobile devices like smartphones and tablets are soaring.
Does it really matter that most users — both business and personal users — are opting for devices that don’t stay firmly attached to a office or a house when they provide a connection to both the Web and a variety of software ? Of course it does.
Here’s the lowdown on last week’s IDC report on PC shipments in the fourth quarter of 2012:
Worldwide PC shipments totaled 89.8 million units in the fourth quarter of 2012 (4Q12), down 6.4% compared to the same quarter in 2011 and worse than the forecasted decline of 4.4%, according to the International Data Corporation (IDC) Worldwide Quarterly PC Tracker.
Although the quarter marked the beginning of a new stage in the PC industry with the launch of Windows 8, its impact did not quickly change recently sluggish PC demand, and the PC market continued to take a back seat to competing devices and sustained economic woes. As a result, the fourth quarter of 2012 marked the first time in more than five years that the PC market has seen a year-on-year decline during the holiday season.
The lackluster fourth quarter results were not entirely surprising given the spate of challenges the PC market faced over the course of 2012. IDC had expected the second half of 2012 to be difficult. Consumers as well as PC vendors and distribution channels continued to be diverted from PC sales by ongoing demand for tablets and smartphones. In addition, questions about the use of touch on Windows PCs vs. tablets slowed commercial spending on PCs.
“Although the third quarter was focused on the clearing of Windows 7 inventory, preliminary research indicates the clearance did not significantly boost the uptake of Windows 8 systems in Q4,” said Jay Chou, senior research analyst with IDC’s Worldwide Quarterly PC Tracker.
“Lost in the shuffle to promote a touch-centric PC, vendors have not forcefully stressed other features that promote a more secure, reliable and efficient user experience. As Windows 8 matures, and other corresponding variables such as Ultrabook pricing continue to drop, hopefully the PC market can see a reset in both messaging and demand in 2013.”
“As anticipated, the U.S. market had a rough ending, dropping 4.5% in the fourth quarter and contributing to a decline of 7% for the full year 2012,” said David Daoud, research director, IDC U.S. Quarterly PC Tracker.
It was a different story for tablets and smartphones. Samsung Electronics reported its operating profit rose nearly 100% in the fourth quarter as sales jumped for high-end smartphones and processors designed for mobile devices.
Samsung estimated that operating profit was $8.2 billion for the quarter ending in December.
Market research reports indicated that December was a strong month for a variety of handset makers.
“Our December wireless store surveys indicated seasonally strong holiday smartphone sales with strong sales of the iPhone 5 and iPhone 4 at AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint and also in international markets,” according to a Canaccord Genuity report this week. “Further, our analysis indicated strong Samsung Galaxy S III sales at all four tier-1 U.S. carriers and in international markets along with strong global Samsung Galaxy Note II sales.”
The generally strong market for smartphones may even boost sales of Windows-based phones.
Nokia Thursday said it sold 86 million mobile devices in the last three months of 2012, including some 4.5 million Lumia smartphones.
So how will this trend in devices affect your organization? In these basic ways:
- Expect your employees and your customers to be moving around a lot more. This will require your connections to them to be optimized for mobile use — your website and customer applications will have to be web friendly.
- Your IT staff will need mobile development and support skills. Both your internal and external audiences will demand this expertise and they’ll shun organizations that don’t offer it.
- The best job candidates and employees will be interested in cutting edge technology and your organization will be judged on its ability to provide them.
- The Bring Your Own Device trend will continue to be a factor in most organizations. Employees will be using their personal devices to get their work done and you need to be prepared for both the benefits and the dangers.
- Top managers need to understand the capabilities of mobile devices and be prepared to exploit them to serve customers and staff. How can you leverage this new tech direction to boost your bottom line? If you’re not thinking about this, you can bet your competitors are.
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