There are multiple factors that are paving the way for the growth or maintaining the sales figures for traditional desktops. The big factor, however, is the subsequent growth of niche audience, majority of which can be called as professionals.
People who use them, drive the growth
As Alen Joe Jose, product marketing director, Consumer & Small Business at Dell India puts it, “Like some creatures in folklore and myths, PCs, the desktops and laptops of our age, will continue to exist as long as there are people who use them.”
Jose makes a valid point, well mostly. As he further explains, “In the commercial segment, there is a demand for desktops that are powerful, compact and provide a safe haven for data.” For industries like R&D, government, trading, among others, factors like data security, space-saving design, powerful design in small form factors, according to Jose, make desktops the clear choice.
For Asus India’s business development manager, ROG and PC, Arnold Su, things are changing at a micro level. “The PC industry is not coming close to its extinction, it is only evolving, and it’s very meaning is changing. Change, evolution, transformation are all terms which are interchangeable and they are all taking place at a very micro level.”
He adds that innovations at home or workplace are also one of the factors due to which traditional desktop PCs are alive. Su says that traditional desktops can also adapt quickly to accommodate new features and services when it comes to streaming services and digital videos. “And speaking of the growth of digital videos, digital video editing is perhaps one of the most demanding tasks, warranting high-definition and digital effects,” he adds.
But what about powerful laptops and why are some users not moving towards it?
HP India’s senior director – Personal Systems, Vickram Bedi explains that the level of experience you get while using a full-size desktop can never be paired with what a laptop delivers. “They come with better features as far as software, performance, display, storage capacity, cooling system and customization is concerned. Therefore, for professionals or students who are into video or photo editing, animation, gaming etc., there is a notable difference between using a desktop for such complex tasks,” he told Gadgets Now in an emailed statement.
Manish Yadav, associate research manager, Client Devices Research, IDC India resonates on the same tone as HP’s Bedi but adds that one of the utility factors of a traditional desktop is Bitcoin mining. “Scalability and versatility are driving new use cases like Bitcoin mining, 3D application development etc. where users are more comfortable to use a desktop,” he says.
Where does the bigger threat come from – smartphones or laptop/tablets?
Yadav of IDC says that not the device but free data and ‘On the go’ content consumption are the key factors due to which traditional desktop PCs are perennially under threat. “Low internet tariffs and wide availability of 4G has really brought a shift in the paradigm, where new form factors like smartphone and tablets have gained a quick adoption on the back of critical factors like price, innovation along with mobility,” says the IDC analyst.
Talking about the buying behaviour of the consumers in the desktop market, he adds that those buying a desktop look at how it will be used first followed by some other factors such as size, price, specifications, brand, and convenience of the purchase.
As for the market, India doesn’t mirror the pattern that is seen internationally. “I believe it’s an exception as Indian market has always been leapfrogging when it comes to technology adoption or changing consumer spending patterns compare to other large devices markets,” adds Yadav.
Asus’ Su says that PCs are never going to be the first device. The primary device may always be a smartphone. “However a desktop will always compensate the task which a smartphone or a tablet cannot afford to perform bet with regards to storage or with regards to performance in many instances.”
According to Yadav, the difference here is that India has always been a ‘one-device market’ unlike others. This means that products in India are made keeping multiple use cases in mind whereas in other markets there are two different devices for two various use cases.
The ultimate question
It’s clear that the companies and analysts do believe that the traditional desktop isn’t bidding adieu anytime soon and is here to extend its stay. Still, there might come a time when they do go extinct. We know what the reasons are and why is traditional desktop still the favourites of many customers. But how long before they go out of the scenario?
It’s not just the users, according to Dell India’s Jose, but brands that need to continuously keep working to make desktops a good proposition. “Desk preferring users expect devices that cater to them and with innovative desktops form factors, supported by the stunning display, heart-pounding audio, and excellent computing power, all in a single package, all we can say is that the desktop market is evolving and will stay relevant in years to come and Dell will be at the forefront of that innovation.”
According to HP India’s Bedi, consumers are much more technologically aware now. “The processors and other audio-visual features provided by desktops remain unmatched. Hence, desktop PCs still account for majority of the systems in government offices, BFSI and educational institutions, other official setups. We believe desktops are here to stay – both for personal and commercial purposes.”
Here are some metrics
As revealed by IDC’s Quarterly Personal Computing Devices Tracker 2018 in May this year, the Indian traditional PC shipments saw a 9.9% decline quarter-on-quarter at 2.35 million units in Q1 2018. However, this is also an 8.2% growth over the same quarter in 2017. While the commercial desktop segment in Q4 2017 stood at 0.58 million, it saw a slight growth to 0.62 million in Q1 2018. The consumer desktop segment, which was at 0.21 million in Q4 2017, was at 0.22 million in 2018 Q1.
The companies that took the top four spots in Q1 CY 2018 by PC market share were HP (28.6%), Dell Inc. (23.2%), Lenovo (21.7%) and Acer (11.7%). The rest 14.8% fall under ‘Others’.
Back in November 2017, it was mentioned that the overall traditional PC shipments in India for Q3 2017 witnessed a strong growth of 72.3% quarter-on-quarter (3.03 million units) and 20.5% in the same quarter in the previous year. The numbers aren’t really in the favour of desktop devices yet brands remain confident about their survival.