Despite recent gloomy forecasts, Intel partners say reports of the PC's death have been greatly exaggerated.
Intel has said it expects the PC market to pick up sometime mid-year, thanks to a coming PC refresh as millions of older Windows XP-based machines are cycled out. Microsoft is officially ending support for the operating system next April.
The world's largest chip maker surprised some earlier this month when, during its first-quarter earnings call, the company reported that the PC Client Group's revenue had fallen just 6 percent. Some analysts were expecting a bigger drop, especially in the face of recent reports from market research firms IDC and Gartner, which had both reported steep, double-digit declines in worldwide PC shipments for the quarter.
[Related: 5 Reasons For The PC Market Decline]
But, solution providers say there's still demand for new desktops and notebooks today, even in the face of massive growth in tablets and smartphones.
"There's still a lot of PCs being purchased," said Todd Swank, director of product marketing at Equus, a system builder based in Minnetonka, Minn. "The whole 'PC is dead' talk is a bit overblown."
Swank said the PC market may be declining in the consumer space where tablets have become popular, but that PC demand in the commercial space overall is still relatively healthy. "Smartphones and tablets are taking a chunk out of the PC market, but that's more in the consumer space," Swank said.
Glen Coffield, owner and president of Smart Guys Computers in Lake Mary, Fla., agrees and doesn't see tablets as a major threat. "I don't think tablets are cannibalizing notebooks," he said. "They're delaying PC purchases, sure, but I don't think they're replacing them."
The two biggest problems for the PC market, Coffield said, are Windows 8, which has been poorly received and isn't creating demand, and the longer refresh cycles for PCs. "The buying cycle has slowed," he said. "The technology is good enough to last longer than just 3-4 years."
Marty Lantz, chief technical officer at MapleTronics, a solution provider based in Goshen, Ind., also believes new PC purchases have been delayed because older systems -- even Windows XP machines that are 10 years old -- can still function. "It's the longevity of the workstation that's working against us. They last longer, and I guess we just make them too good," Lantz joked.
It's not just custom system builders that are still seeing demand for PCs. Virtual Technologies Group (VTG) in Toledo, Ohio, is posting strong sales this year around its primary OEM partners, Lenovo and Dell. Mike Curtis, vice president at VTG, said demand has been particularly strong in the education vertical and said he expects the trend to continue through 2013 as more businesses finally upgrade their older systems.
PUBLISHED APRIL 23, 2013