News on PC sales continues to get worse by the month. IDC revised its 2013 forecast to say sales of conventional notebook and desktop computers will fall at least 10 per cent. Another marketwatcher, IHS, reports notebook display orders by PC vendors will fall at least 23 per cent in 2013 and the expectation is for further declines in 2014.
PC numbers are not good, except in one place: the channel, where notebook computer sales have already climbed 14.3 per cent, according to data compiled by the Global Technology Distribution Council (GTDC).
Desktop computer sales are climbing, too, but only at the rate of 5.4 per cent.
Paraphrasing Mark Twain's famous quote, CEO Tim Curran told the annual gathering of channel and distribution executives at the GTDC Summit that the death of the PC is greatly exaggerated.
Not only are PC shipments through distribution to the channel healthy but continuing to climb.
These numbers stand in stark contrast to the analyst firm's forecast. Admittedly, Curran says the growth numbers aren't nearly as robust as those of tablets, which is climbing at a rate of 53 per cent.
But up 14.5 per cent compared to a forecast 10 per cent decline is pretty good.
It's about who's buying.
Yes, notebook and desktop computers are getting hit hard by the transition to tablets and smartphones. Mobile devices are already the preferred internet access point for most users. And the onslaught of business-class devices is making tablets and mid-sized smartphones more appealing.
The migration from conventional PCs is mostly in the consumer side of the market. Consumers are extending the lives of their notebook and desktop computers to augment the utility of their mobile devices.
They are more likely to spend money on new and multiple mobile devices than on "thick" clients.
Businesses on the other hand still need PCs. While many businesses have embraced BYOD, they still have notebooks and desktops for their offices and mobile workers. Tablets are interesting devices, but most still don't have the power to complete many business tasks.
Providers tell Channelnomics they're seeing this same trend. Businesses are buying conventional PCs, refreshing their aging fleets and expanding their resources. Microsoft discontinuing support for Windows XP in April 2014 is pushing many businesses to upgrade.
Where businesses haven't found a true need is for touch-enabled PCs.
Most PC vendors have and continue to add notebooks, desktops and all-in-one PCs with touch interfaces to take advantage of the Windows 8 OS. Thus far, touch seems like overkill to businesses.
That's not stopping vendors like Lenovo, which believe buying touch today is future-proofing the options.
Whether the channel can stave off a PC extinction is something to monitor. GTDC's Curran and many vendors believe the PC will remain an indispensable business device despite the growth of tablets and smartphones.
For now, the channel is helping at least part of the PC market to defy gravity.
Larry Walsh is chief executive officer and president of Channelnomics
As part of our special editorial partnership, CRN is republishing this article from Channelnomics
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