Some recovery seen, don’t buy a new car just yet
GPUs were flat qtr to qtr, all platforms down
In the past when life was stable and markets predictable, we had a thing called seasonality. Internet buying all year, the cost of gasoline, decline of retail, and a five year recession has made seasonality a faint, and romantic distant memory—welcome to chaosville.
If seasonality were alive and well one could draw encouragement from the Q1’13 results of GPU shipments—flat from Q4’12 (the typical buying binge). When times are bad, or lets say just not great, Q1 typically drops five to ten-percent. Since GPUs have in the past been a leading indicator, one might predict a flat Q1 means the platforms would see a flat Q2, which was typically a bigger drop as suppliers closed up in anticipation of people going on vacation and taking their checkbooks with them. At the end of Q2 there is usually little pick up for the back to school refresh.
However this time Q1 saw platform shipments drop from Q4 in a somewhat normal pattern. That may not be a doom and gloom scenario and could, with hopeful heart, indicate that with all the other encouraging news about the economy, the computer industry is coming back to normality. All platforms declined in Q1, tablets less than PCs, but that is the trend isn’t it? Research firm Gartner has predicted a very sad future for PCs, and is forecasting an 11% drop due to replacement sales going to tablets. We’re not so sure about that, and are taking a neutral position as we look ahead to Q2 and beyond.