IDC has forecast 10%+ annual growth in PC shipments from here on despite an observed lack of growth this year. IDC counts only desktops and notebooks as PCs. This year’s slump is almost completely due to the rise of smart phones and tablets. Even at the high initial prices of these products the impact was serious. With prices continuing to fall in smart thingies this trend will continue. IDC has it wrong. This is the year the Wintel monopoly died. Consumers now can choose other than Wintel and are doing it by the hundreds of millions.
IDC predicts 2011 will essentially see no growth over 2010 in shipments but magically sees the return of 10%+ growth thereafter. There is no magic in PC shipments. There is no magic in shipments of smart thingies. People want smaller, cheaper and faster machines and they will get them from any source. That retailers and ISPs and telcos and banks are pushing the smart thingies makes it all the more sure that consumers will gobble them up. Only business clings to the older technology because it works for them but consumers are the workers and seek to use the same gadgets at work. Even businesses are buying more thin clients (IDC still counts them as PCs) so the ASP of PCs will fall everywhere. This will squeeze the already squeezed OEMs and they will resist M$’s demand to keep licensing fees up.
Old friends of Wintel will see smart thingies are more profitable than declining prices of the old thingies and the slide will continue. There is no reason to ship goods that don’t sell. They might do that for this year, but as Acer discovered, the chickens come home to roost eventually. The other OEMs will learn from Acer’s example.
I see sales of smart thingies doubling in the near future and shipments of desktops and notebooks will be stagnant at best. Business and consumers will switch away from Wintel. It will be a gradual shift this year but will become a torrent next year. M$’s “8” will come at least a year late to affect the shift. Once headed on the road to freedom, a huge share of the market will be lost to Wintel. Both M$ and Intel have strategies to catch the wave but hundreds of millions of users will switch to ARM and more will switch to Android/Linux or GNU/Linux. There is no way for Wintel to put th genie back in the bottle.
I have no idea what the new equilibrium will be. Likely most consumers will find smart thingies attractive and useful so that share will be huge. In business, folks who type a lot will still prefer Wintel but even they may find thin client computing useful. They can use that other OS and familiar apps from a GNU/Linux thin client for lowest cost per seat. If they are using OpenOffice.org or LibreOffice and FireFox or Chrome, they may just as well switch to GNU/Linux on the terminal server when that shift happens.
There is no upside for Wintel on desktops and notebooks. IDC is whistling past the grave yard.