Learning how to count

Posted: 07.16.14

It would be a lot easier if you weren’t such a skeptic

In mid-June, Intel said, due to stronger than expected demand for business PCs, it expects second-quarter revenue to be $13.7 billion, plus or minus $300 million, as compared to the previous range of $13.0 billion, plus or minus $500 million. Intel now expects some revenue growth for the year as compared to the previous outlook of approximately flat, driven mostly by strong demand for business PCs. The company will provide additional commentary on all business segments when it reports second-quarter earnings on July 15.

That, no doubt, helped Gartner come out with an upbeat forecast last week, saying, “2014 will be marked by a relative revival of the global PC market. After de¬clining 9.5% in 2013, the global PC market (desk-based, notebook and premium ultramobile) is on pace to contract only 2.9% in 2014.”

And that was, in turn, fodder for the pundits (who, as you know, know more than anyone) to say, “Yeah but … If you take out ultamobile, there’s a 7.2% decline.”

Really. And if you take out notebooks there will be still a larger decline, and if you take out embedded, more decline, and if you take out PCs … Wait. OK, don’t take out PCs.

Ultramobiles, as some are calling the 2 in 1 category, are certainly PCs, and so are AIOs, and these new form factors are meeting the needs and expectations of the consumers, so why the hell would you take them out of the count? Unless, of course, you had some ulterior motive for trying to make the PC market look bad, and well, maybe shorting Intel, or buying Apple, or ARM, I don’t know, just guessing.

Earlier this year, figures from Strategy Analytics showed that Windows 8 tablets accounted for only 5.8% of the overall tablet market in Q1 2014, while Android tablets captured 65.8% of the tablet market and iPads got 28.4%.

However, as part of Gartner’s latest report on worldwide PC, tablets, and smartphone sales, they think happier days are ahead for Windows Phone, which, they say, will reach 10% world-wide market share by 2018.

And, according to the NPD DisplaySearch Quarterly Mobile PC Shipment and Forecast Report, shipments of notebook PCs in the first quarter (Q1) of 2014 were better than expected, due to the commercial PC refresh cycle and Windows XP migration; however, shipments of tablet PCs, at 56 million units, declined year-over-year for the first time. Many brands reported weak tablet PC shipment results in Q1, due in part to new product launch delays. NPD DisplaySearch has lowered its forecast for tablet PC shipments in 2014 to 285 million units.

Meanwhile, IDC just reported the PC market saw shipments of 74.36 million units in Q2, which is down 1.7% from the same period a year ago. Gartner thinks 256 million units will ship in 2014.

So, like the smart accountant said, “What do you want it to equal?”

Fact of the matter is almost no one really knows. Sure, Intel knows how many chips they made, but they don’t really know where all them went. Some went into PCs, some into embedded systems, some are stuck on distributors’ shelves and in WIP at various manufacturers and may one day end up in a product. So this whole thing of counting and reporting, with such obnoxious authority, is just a big guessing game. And then, like the emperor’s new clothes, everyone “sees” it and it echoes around the web and becomes a reality.