Tag: tablet

Huawei cleans up as tablet market falls

cheap-tabletsHuawei was the only vendor to see growth in its tablet business in Q4 last year, according to beancounters at IDC

Western European tablet shipments declined 13.1 year on year, and only ten million tablet units were shipped in Q4 2017, with Apple, Samsung, Amazon and Lenovo all suffering.

Apple remained the market leader, with a share of 24.1 percent but was down one percent on the same period in 2016.

Third-placed Amazon saw the most significant decline at 19.2 percent. However, Huawei, while having a market share of only 5.6 percent, saw its tablet business grow 27.7 percent.

IDC senior research analyst Daniel Goncalves said: “Profitability is increasingly becoming the focus among the most important tablet manufacturers.

“The performance of Apple and Samsung, the two main players in the western European market, together representing over 40 percent of all tablet shipments, reflects the increasing concern for value over volume. Both posted double-digit growth in revenue YoY, despite the single-digit declines YoY in units.”

Slate tablets were branded the primary cause for the shipments drop by IDC, with this market segment falling 15.4 percent. Premium detachable devices saw shipments increase 8.5 percent.

Tablet sales still falling

stylustabletResellers trying to peddle tablets are having a tough time of it as users have moved onto the next new shiny thing.

According to beancounters at the analyst Context Western European tablet sales “dramatically declined” in Q4 2015, as consumers looked to alternative devices such as two-in-one detachables and convertible notebooks.

But the market watcher found that the fall in sales in the PC market “softened”, driven largely by stock clearance.

Unit shipments of slate tablets for distributors in Western Europe fell by 27.5 per cent year on year for Q4 2015, dropping from more than five million to about 3.7 million in the last quarter of 2015.

Germany saw particularly poor performance for the devices, with tablet sales down 43.4 per cent.

Spain also saw a plunge in demand, with sales down 31.3 per cent and the UK was down 14.1 per cent.

Context attributed this decline to an upswing in popularity of alternatives including two-in-one detachables, which sold 300,000 units, a year-on-year increase of 31.3 per cent. The analyst also noted a big increase in convertible notebooks, with sales up 84.7 per cent year on year.

Marie-Christine Pygott, senior analyst at Context, said: “To put these figures in perspective, detachable and convertible pcs comprised 11 per cent of overall notebook unit sales in distribution at the end of last year, and an even larger share (15 per cent) in the consumer space.”

The PC market fared better, with “a strong focus on stock clearance” helping to see a respite from its recent tumbling numbers. PC distributor sales were largely flat, down only 0.1 per cent year on year for Q4 2015, and this was boosted by notebook sales up 2.7 per cent over the same period.

The UK market saw PC sales up 10 per cent as it suffered fewer currency headaches than the eurozone countries. Spain saw PC sales up 8.3 per cent, but Italy saw a decline of 3.3 per cent and France was down 9.2 per cent.

Consumer PC shipments were up 2.9 per cent but business shipments fell by 4.5 per cent year over year.

Amazon plans $50 tablet

amazonAmazon will release a $50 tablet in time for the Christmas sales.

The Wall Street Journal reported that the 6-inch screen tablet comes with a mono speaker and is priced much lower than Amazon’s Fire tablet. The Fire sells for $99.

Amazon also plans to release 8-inch and 10-inch screen tablets, the report said.

While other Amazon Fire tablets show advertisements as screen savers, it was not clear if the new 6-inch tablet’s cost included ads.

The move is part of a cunning plan to attract buyers looking for a simple device for straightforward tasks like streaming video at home and shopping on Amazon.com.

The inexpensive tablet will have compromises like inferior screen quality, durability or battery life in comparison to more expensive tablets like Amazon’s larger Fire.

Chief Executive Jeff Bezos has said, the company prefers to make money by selling services that work with the devices, like e-books and video rentals.

He set a $50 price tag for versions of both the Fire tablet and Kindle e-reader, viewing the rock-bottom prices as a crucial lure for a more cost-conscious group of buyers.

E-reader screen technology from its vendors ultimately proved too expensive to drop the retail price, the people said. Amazon’s cheapest Kindle sells for $79.

Analysts are less enthusiastic about the idea claiming that halving the price for a tablet which is less useful defeats the purpose.

There is “no reason to believe” in tablets

Dodo-birdTablets have gone the way of the Dodo and the hula hoop according to bean counters at Canalys.

The analyst said that in Q2 of this year, global shipments slumped 11 percent annually to 42.5 million units. Shipments in all global regions fell annually in the quarter, and the outlook for the months ahead is not positive.

There is “no reason to believe that growth will return in the short term,” the analyst said.

The market has been killed off by a move to large-screen mobiles and the fact that larger devices will have to compete against a range of two-in-one devices optimised for Windows 10.

Canalys’ senior analyst Tim Coulling insists that the market may not be dead, but might just be resting. He suggests nailing it to its perch in case it goes Vrooom.

“Despite the sudden downturn in shipments, tablets are certainly here to stay,” he said. “Yes, they have matured and commoditised quickly, but there are still opportunities for vendors to profit from the category.

“Unlike consumers, businesses have been slow when it comes to mass adoption of tablets. They are willing to spend more on products that satisfy a specific need and meet key requirements, around durability for example. In the consumer space, demand for premium tablets in established markets has noticeably slowed but is not going to disappear.”

Microsoft may dump Surface tabs

Microsoft Surface ProA report suggested that Microsoft may decide to give up the ghost on its Surface Pro 3 tablet.

According to Digitimes, sales for the product have been weak and Microsoft is disappointed with its performance.  That’s according to unnamed sources from the supply chain.

Microsoft has also failed to set up an adequate distribution chain and at the same time high prices for the products have put many people off.

Digitimes estimates that Microsoft has lost around $1.7 billion on the first two generations of its tablet.

Microsoft has another problem too. Competitors have introduced smartphones with large screens and that has affected peoples’ buying choices.

Microsoft hasn’t had much luck with hardware, with one notable exception.

That’s the Microsoft mouse.

Apple is in the Last Chance saloon

last-chance Today Apple will get a chance to spin its way out of trouble with one of its product presentations.

While its allies in the journalism world have been doing their best to sacrifice their credibility by peddling rumours about what Apple is going to show off, it is almost certainly going to be the long delayed Smartwatch and another iPhone.

But Apple has not had a new product for four years and many believe it needs to come up with something new or lose its reputation as an innovator to some of its rivals.

And this is where it has a problem. It only has a smartwatch and a phablet, both of which have been done to death by rivals.

No doubt presenting these shiny toys will get Apple CEO Tim Cook a standing ovation, but getting one of those at an Apple rally is like getting one at a Tory Party conference.

Apple will also get fanboys queuing for their new iPhone and some, no doubt will want one of these watches.

But the question many should be asking is “is any of this new, or innovative and will it keep Apple relevant?”

The creation of the mobile phone actually killed off the wristwatch and many people would require training to put one back on. So far smartwatches have found their place amongst those who want to measure their heart rates while doing exercise. This is not a big target market, and there is some competition out there for Apple.

Apple got away with its launches into the smartphone and the tablet market because what it presented was largely new.  Smartphones had been around, but they were ugly, clunkly and very expensive. Apple pushed its tablets to consumers, something that Microsoft had ruled out and had some success.

But the field has changed. Apple is competing on all fronts with rivals who have cheaper and in some cases better products.

The Phablet is a case in point. Apple fanboys mocked phablet owns for holding large phones to their ears, and yet the phone’s usability in comparison to smaller phones became clear fast.

Apple had to eat humble pie and admit that it had it wrong when it came to phablet size, in the same way that it had to admit that it was wrong about people wanting smaller tablets.

In all these things Apple has been playing catch-up and is not doing that well.

Analysts appear optimistic that Apple will pull another rabbit out of a hat. Michael Yoshikami, CEO of Destination Wealth Management told Reuters that Apple’s pipeline is finally going to satisfy those who have wondered if the company has any new products.

But even if Cook wows them with products at today’s rally, it is a long way before products will hit the market. Word on the street is that the Smartwatch is still not ready and unlikely to go on sale until sometime in 2015. Apple may not even reveal its price on today.

Apple was planning to show off its iCloud based products, such as Mobile Wallet. Apple has reportedly struck deals with Visa, MasterCard and American Express. It has also come up with its “HealthKit” data service earlier this year made it clear that it sees its products helping consumers manage personal health information. By incorporating the HealthKit service into the iPhone 6, and by packing its smartwatch with sensors capable of monitoring physical movements and heart rates, Apple could lay the groundwork for a broader push into mobile healthcare.

The problem for Apple is the recent iCloud security scandal which saw countless starlets have their naked pictures put online. Apple made matters worse by pretending it was not a security fault with the iCloud, when it clearly was.

The last thing you need a couple of weeks before you release a clutch of iCloud products is for people to question if it is safe sticking their data on Apple’s systems.

All up, we think that Apple will have a hard time convincing sane people that it has a special plan to pull itself away from mediocrity. The Tame Apple Press will try to convince you otherwise, but we suspect that cooler heads will be wondering how Apple could have sunk so low.

HTC in Google tie-up

google-ICA report claimed that HTC, which has wobbled quite a bit over the last few years, is set to cooperate with Google on its next tablet.

According to Taiwanese wire, Digitimes, the two companies will jointly launch the Nexus 10 tablet.

HTC hasn’t had a great deal of success in the tablet sphere and Google has consorted with other manufacturers including Asustek and Samsung to create previous versions of Nexus tablets.

The big question is whether it is too little and too late for HTC to make progress in the tablet arena, given that there are already so many players.

Although its recent smartphones have been hailed as good bits of kit, it seems that a  lack of coordination and marketing know how has prevented HTC doing as well as it should have.

Cheap tablets start to make their mark

cheap-tabletsEver since Google launched its $199 Nexus 7 last year, tablet makers have been looking for ways to come up with even cheaper devices to undercut Google and other brands who targeted the sub-$200 space. Smaller form factors were popularised by Apple’s iPad mini, too. As a result the tablet underwent a massive transformation over the last 12 to 15 months in what can only be described as a race to the bottom. However, we’re not at the bottom just yet.

Big brands have started rolling out cheaper devices, first hitting the $149 mark and now going towards $99. The white-box gang is already there and cheap tablets are slowly making their presence felt. According to Bloomberg, sales of sub-$149 tablets will account for almost 35 percent of the US market next year, up from 25 percent in 2011.

However, cheap tablets have evolved. The average $199 or $149 tablet two years ago was absolutely horrible, but this is no longer the case. Here are a few examples proving that cheap tablets have come a long way.

The cheap white-box tablet, anno 2011, usually shipped with 512MB of memory, single-core A8 processor and low-res 1024×600 or 1024×768 TN panel. Some even featured outdated resistive touchscreens. However, 1GB of RAM is now the bare minimum, while many cheap tablets already pack 2GB. Practically all cheap tablets now sport IPS panels and it’s even possible to get a WUXGA (2048×1536) tablet for as little as $200, or ~€160 in Euroland. Dual-core A9 or quad-core A7 processors are standard, but there are even some A9 quads available for that sort of money.

Components are getting ridiculously cheap, allowing vendors to add more for less. This is especially true of processors and displays.

Several companies are churning out cheap ARM SoCs and it is estimated that Rockchip can sell a SoC for as little as $5. MediaTek is currently shipping one in five SoCs on the planet and most of them are cheap, A7-based parts. Prices of relatively high-quality IPS displays have tumbled as well and many cost less than $10. Prices or RAM and NAND have gone down as well, but the drop wasn’t as drastic. All in all, Bloomberg reckons the cost of components used in today’s cheap and cheerful tablets is $60, down from $175 in 2011.

It should be noted that cheap tablets, or the companies behind them, don’t get nearly as much press as they should. After all, cheap tablets will make up a third of all tablet shipments next year, but tech sites are focusing on clickbait, pricey high-end models churned out by brands who tend to advertise on the same sites.

It’s all somewhat reminiscent of the vanilla PC boom in the mid eighties, although we don’t believe cheap tablets can replicate the success of cheap PCs three decades ago.

Microsoft has cunning plan to sell Surface tablets to businesses

surface-pro-2Microsoft’s Surface tablets failed to gain much traction in both the consumer and enterprise space, but now Redmond hopes to change a thing or two with the second generation, especially when it comes to businesses.

The original Surface RT filed to impress business users, while the Surface Pro which was supposed to do exactly that didn’t do much better, either. The new generation has vastly superior hardware, but that’s not enough in the consumer space. Windows RT is practically on life support and the Surface 2 is the only product based on Redmond’s tablet OS. The Surface Pro 2 is a bit better, with a snappy Haswell chip, backed by up to 8GB of RAM and 512GB of solid-state storage, it is pretty much the best Windows 8.1 tablet money can buy – and you will need quite a bit of money, since it doesn’t come cheap.

So what will be different this time around? Surface Commercial director Cyril Belikoff told CITEworld.com that the RT-based Surface 2 is actually getting more and more love from big corporate customers. Most companies have not deployed tablets on a large scale yet, hence they are willing to take a look at Microsoft’s offer. Those that already use iOS or Android tablets probably won’t make this leap of faith.

As for the Surface Pro 2, Microsoft is now marketing it as a laptop replacement. However, Microsoft is not offering any incentives to partners to sell Surface Pros rather than other Windows 8 laptops or tablets. Belikoff reckons business will realise the advantage of replacing some laptops and boxes with Surface tablets, as it combines the advantages of a proper PC with the portability of a tablet.

Asked why Microsoft didn’t make more of a push towards corporate with the first generation, Belikoff didn’t exactly have an answer. He merely said the first Surface RT was designed as a “personal device” and that it is getting business friendly only with RT 8.1.

That seems to be the whole point. The original Surface RT wasn’t designed with businesses in mind, but at the same time it flopped in the consumer market, prompting other vendors to drop Windows RT altogether. So what exactly was it designed for in the first place?

Cheap tablets are getting even cheaper

cheap-tabletsNow that even grocers are targeting the 7-inch tablet segment, the dog eat dog of cheap tablets is getting even more brutal. Chinese white-box players are further cutting their prices, according to channel sources cited by Digitimes.

A quick glance at tablet prices in the UK and the continent reveals that there are already heaps of tablets priced at £99 or less, with some truly cheap models going for as little as £49.

What’s more, some big vendors like Asus, Acer and Lenovo also have products at or close to the £99 mark and let’s not forget Tesco’s impressive Hudl, which is priced at £119 yet it features a much better screen than similarly priced tablets.

Google and Amazon had a thing or two to do with this trend. The Kindle Fire and Nexus 7 series of tablets reinvented the £199 space last year, so quite a few companies introduced similar products and similar price points. As a result, the white-box crowd has no choice but to run for the hills, or in this case for the bargain bin.

This doesn’t appear to bode well for big brands. It was recently reported that Google was forced to slash orders for the second generation Nexus 7 due to soft demand. People who want cheap tablets seem to be going after even cheaper models and the £/$199 price point is now practically reserved for high-end 7-inch tablets.

In addition, the market share of small white-box outfits is going up, from 26 percent in Q2 2012 to 39 percent in Q2 2013. The top five brands are losing share, but if the prices of entry level Asus, Acer and Lenovo tablets are anything to go by – they are not far behind in the race to the bottom.

Tesco launches fresh Hudl tablet

tesco-hudl-tabletTesco has officially launched its first tablet, which is coincidentally probably the first tablet ever launched by a grocer. On a more serious note, the humble Hudl tablet doesn’t look bad at all. In fact, it is much better than we expected.

It features a 7-inch screen with a rather high resolution of 1440×900, which is marginally better than 1280×800 on the first generation Nexus 7 and Nvidia’s new Tegra Note. Tesco says it packs a quad-core processor clocked at 1.5GHz, but we suspect this is a Cortex A7 part due to the relatively low price of the device, which is just £119.99.

The tablet also features 16GB of storage and a microSD slot, along with dual-band Wi-Fi and Blinkbox support. Naturally, it can also be used for online shopping and it can access a wide range of other Tesco digital services. 

The tablet will be available in retail and online. There is a choice of four lively colour options and Tesco Clubcard holders will be able to buy it at a discount, which means many shoppers will pick it up for less than £100.

“Hudl is a colourful, accessible tablet for the whole family to enjoy. The first stage in our tablet offering, it’s convenient, integrated and easy to use with no compromise on spec. Customers are quite rightly very discerning about the technology they buy so we knew we had to be competitive on all fronts,” said Tesco Chief Executive, Philip Clarke.

Clarke does have a point – with a 1440×900 screen and a snappy processor, the cheap Hudl doesn’t seem to compromise on spec. Most white-box tablets in the £100 – £149 range ship with inferior screens and slower chips, not to mention that many of them cost a few pounds more than the Hudl.

The Hudl will be very disruptive in this segment.

Nvidia announces Tegra Note Android tab

nvidianoteNvidia has announced its very own Android tablet platform, the Tegra Note, readied by the company and brought to market by its partners.

Nvidia boasts that, rather than just providing a low cost and high quality build for Tegra 3, as with the Nexus 7, this is a “complete platform”. Partners include EVGA and PNY Technologies, Oysters, ZOTAC, Colorful, Shenzhen Homecare Technology, and XOLO, which will be joining HP, Asus, Toshiba, Kobo and Xiomi in Tegra 4 products.

So far Nvidia is a little late on the tablet front. The company does have products out there but not as many as it likes.

Tegra Note, however, will sport a Tegra 4 72 core GeForce GPU and quadcore Cortex A15 CPU, with the promise of battery saving tech. The company boasts this will make the Tegra Note the “world’s fastest 7 inch tablet”. It will also ship with Nvidia’s DirectStylus tech which should give users more precise and responsive control with a normal stylus.

Nvidia PureAudio will ship, too, which the company says includes the “widest frequency range in a tablet” through front facing stereo speakers and a bass reflex port.

This product sounds like a solid release compared to the gaming curio, Nvidia Shield, an experiment in remote PC gaming – as long as you’re not too far away. Tegra Note will ship with TegraZone for exclusive Tegra optimised graphics, and the company claims you’ll get a massive 10 hours of HD video playback.

Additionally, a range of accessories will be available, including an intelligent cover with built in magnets, the DirectStylus Pro Pack, and Bluetooth capabilities that turn the tablet into a controller. Over the air software updates will be sent out by Nvidia directly to keep software patched and up to date.

Retail prices will start at $199, taking on other low-cost but high performance tablets in the market.

Mobiles big it up online

Keep taking the tabletsTablets and smartphones are quickly becoming the platform of choice when it comes to online shopping. According to IMRG Capgemini, mobile accounted for 23.2 percent of online sales last quarter, up 11.6 percent year-on-year. What’s more, the actual proportion of retail site visits coming from mobile was up to 34 percent from 21 percent a year ago.

Click and collect is going strong as well, as it represented 16 percent of online sales, up from 12 percent last year. Bounce rates are also going up, largely as a result of higher mobile penetration.

IMRG chief information officer Tina Spooner said there is a correlation between the surge in mobile commerce and the rise in visitor bounce rates on mobile retail sites.

“While consumers [people, Ed.] have generally become more confident in using their mobile devices as a shopping tool, the latest data suggests they have also become more demanding,” Spooner said. “Higher search volumes will inevitably result in an increase in bounce rates as shoppers will often compare products and pricing across several brands.”

Spooner argued that offering an engaging and relevant experience for customers across all channels will help retailers achieve the end goal of higher conversion rates and an increase in customer loyalty.

Capgemini UK VP of consumer products and retail Chris Webster pointed out another interesting trend – record levels of sales via mobile devices correspond to higher rates for click and collect.

“This correlation of mobile ordering and location flexible collection is at the heart of the mobile internet and the impact it will have on consumer behaviour. Maybe we are truly entering the Martini age – anytime, anyplace, anywhere,” he said. Talk about product placement, Webster.

Intel’s post PC strategy is faltering

Intel-logoEver since Intel got a shiny new CEO, we’ve been hearing talk of an aggressive mobile push, of a more dynamic Intel that will eventually steer clear of trouble and trample the ARM gang with Brian Krzanich at the helm.

This of course will take time, if it is possible to begin with, so Intel’s first order of the day was to talk about mobile rather than do anything about it, and talk it did.

Intel spent much of the last quarter talking about 2-in-1 hybrids, touch enabled Ultrabooks and now it’s outlining its smartphone strategy, complete with LTE. So far it’s been all talk and almost no action.

Earlier this week Intel shed more light on its first LTE chipset, the XMM 7160, which is supposed to launch by the end of the month. It is a multimode chip and currently Intel offers only a single-mode LTE solution, which is obsolete.

Worse, even the XMM 7160 is a discrete solution, it’s not an integrated option like Qualcomm’s LTE. Intel wants the world to think that it’s serious about LTE, but in reality discrete LTE chips are a thing of the past. It’s all about integration now. Intel’s next generation XMM 7260 LTE chipset is set to appear next year, with LTE Advanced support. Intel’s first integrated LTE solution might appear in the first half of 2014. This is very slow indeed and as a result Intel is highly unlikely to score any big phone design wins next year. It can go after second-tier devices, but they’ll probably be scooped up by MediaTek, Qualcomm and other ARM players.

To be blunt, Intel simply won’t do much better on the smartphone front next year. It will gain market share, but we are still talking about low, single digits.

It won’t do much better in other segments, either. It appears to be pinning its hopes on hybrids, which seems very risky at this point. Hybrids, or 2-in-1s, are supposed to combine the portability and practicality of tablets with the productive prowess of proper notebooks. The trouble is that they’re just not there yet. Windows RT is on life support, Windows 8.1 will still be big and bloated. As a result Windows 8.x hybrids will cost a lot more to produce than Android and iOS tablets, margins will be tight and vendors won’t be very happy. The OS itself is another problem. An x86 tablet with legacy support for tons of Windows applications sounds very good, if you’re Dr Who and you can travel back in time to 2009. The market has moved on and legacy support just isn’t what it used to be a few years ago – and it’s losing relevance fast.

The failure of Intel’s Ultrabook push and touch-enabled notebooks is another concern. Ultrabooks were too pricey and they didn’t offer much in the way of new features. Simply slapping a touchscreen on top of them did not address the original shortcomings of the concept, so touchbooks are failing as we speak.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, Intel ditched Atom based netbooks in favour of pricier designs. At about the same time it culled CULV to make way for Ultrabooks. Intel wanted more high-margin silicon in the market, but now it’s focusing on Atom once again. The first Atom based hybrids are starting to show up and they are practically what the netbook would have evolved into had Intel not killed it. In the meantime, cheap tablets and Chromebooks ate its lunch, along with cheap ultraportables based on AMD’s low-end APUs.

As for tablets, Intel dropped the ball years ago and now it’s facing a much tougher market, a market it desperately wants to get back into. Intel recently launched a couple of unimpressive education tablets, running Android. Samsung also tapped Intel for the Galaxy Tab 3, which is equally disappointing spec-wise. Intel now says it wants to do more on the Android front, but it is simply too late. Intel’s x86 support is irrelevant in the Android world and most Android tablets are powered by dirt cheap ARM SoCs. High-end Android tablets, which seem like the obvious choice for Intel chips, aren’t selling well – so even if Intel gets back into the game, it doesn’t stand to make much on Android tablets.

It’s only ticket into the Android universe are high-volume devices, like flagship phones. It will not get them anytime soon. Next year’s Android flagships will still be based on ARM chips and unless Intel pulls off a miracle, it won’t get any in 2015, either. Samsung makes its own Exynos chips and doesn’t really need Intel’s Silvermont. Motorola has also cooked up a custom chip based on Qualcomm’s Krait core, which means Google is also pursuing a custom in-house approach. Apple already designs custom ARM cores and this won’t change. And then there’s Qualcomm. And MediaTek, and Nvidia, and LG, and just about everyone else with an ARM licence under their belt.

Intel talks up the PC market

Intel-logoIntel is in the middle of a leadership change  and on top of that it is facing headwinds coming from all directions. The chipmaker finally seems to be getting it, at least if statements from CEO Brian Krzanich and President Renee James are anything to go by, and they are.

However, although the new Intel is all about Atom and hybrids, the company is still trying to put a positive spin on dismal PC sales. Intel commissioned an IDC survey of 3,997 US adults which apparently found that the PC is still alive and well. We beg to differ.

The survey found that 97 percent of respondents still believe their PCs are their primary computing devices, not smartphones or tablets. They consider access to their PC essential and 73 percent said they would rather go without exercise than without their PC. Geeks aren’t into exercise, but they are into candy and sweets, yet 71 percent said they would rather ditch their sugary treats than their PCs. Another 65 percent said the same about caffeine, 58 percent would rather ditch their TV, while 33 percent would rather spend a few days without their car than without their PC. The average time spent on computing devices was 43 hours a week and half of that was spent in front of a PC.

However, these figures don’t matter nearly as much as the next one – the average PC is four years old. Just a few years ago this would mean that the average PC is ripe for an upgrade, but this is no longer the case. The upgrade cycle has slowed down and average users have little to gain from getting a new PC. Professionals and gamers are a different breed, but the bulk of PC purchases comes from mainstream users.

Over the last decade or so the PC has become so mature that it is practically treated like any other household appliance. People get a new one only when the old one breaks. Nobody buys a new microwave because Samsung launched a new one, with a colour touchscreen. The same is slowly becoming true of PCs.

On a more positive note, the PC is still practically the only platform for productivity. Tablets and smartphones can’t replace it and they can’t even come close, at least not in the foreseeable future. As a result, 83 percent of respondents to the IDC survey said they are more productive on their PCs than on smartphones or tablets. As for the remaining 17 percent, we’re not sure they know what “productive” means.