April 12, 2017 Last Updated 3:32 pm

PC makers see shipments fall 2.4% in Q1 as buyers find fewer reasons to upgrade machines

Apple’s market share manages to increase, but buyers are finding that the company is testing their patience as newer models offer few reasons for them to pull out their wallets

The PC market is starting to look a lot like the tablet market, which isn’t good for the big tech companies. According to Gartner, PC shipments fell during Q1 of this year, and now are below 63 million units, a level not last seen since 2007.

“While the consumer market will continue to shrink, maintaining a strong position in the business market will be critical to keep sustainable growth in the PC market. Winners in the business segment will ultimately be the survivors in this shrinking market,” said Mikako Kitagawa, principal analyst at Gartner. “Vendors who do not have a strong presence in the business market will encounter major problems, and they will be forced to exit the PC market in the next five years. However, there will also be specialized niche players with purpose-built PCs, such as gaming PCs and ruggedized laptops.”

Apple’s numbers weren’t half bad. They still are only the world’s fifth largest PC maker, but that is one spot up, and their market share was at 6.8 percent.

Still, Apple has received plenty of bad news lately. Laptop Magazine, which I admit didn’t even know exists anymore (does anyone read PC magazines anymore?), ranks Apple fifth in its rankings of PCs.

“The company’s MacBooks are slim, powerful and well-built, but you’ll need pile of money and a bagful of dongles,” the magazine said, while adding that the “company’s support and warranty options are second to none.”

Some have criticized the rankings, but I don’t have any problems with it. I’m not in the market for a non-Mac PC because I don’t want to run Windows, so I am a bit stuck. Why anyone would deal with Windows is beyond me, but I get it, some even long for the paperclip to return.

For me, Apple is a company now run by the accountants, so expecting much from Cupertino is probably too much. My own iMac is not that old, and even my MacBook Pro, while old, is working just find. Apple has not given me a reason to upgrade anything in years (making things thinner is hardly an upgrade), so I don’t expect I will buy anything substantial from the company for a while.

The problem, as I have written before, is that the tech companies are not focused on their users. What is it I can do with your new model that I couldn’t do with the old. Give me functionality and I will buy. Instead, we thinner models with the same or worse battery life, chips that may be faster, but not so noticeably faster that my life will change.

Maybe you are not old enough to remember, but there was a time when having a three year old PC was like having a 20 year old car. PC development was amazing to see, but it made publishing companies crazy. Editors and designers regularly complained that their computers couldn’t handle the software updates that also came down at a dizzying pace.

Today, if your three year old PC can’t handle a Photoshop or InDesign file there is something wrong with your PC, better get it checked out.

There are some rather innovative looking PCs coming on the market – helped out, no doubt, by Microsoft’s decision to add touch support to Windows. But the question remains whether this is merely a feature that helps you do what you already can do, but with a mouse, or whether it actually allows you to do new, important things.

That the PC industry, as Gartner pointed out, is experiencing some price increases due to currency fluctuations and an increase in DRAM prices, does not help things. The US market for PCs has fallen two quarters in a row, but things are even worse abroad where EMEA shipments were down 6.9 percent.

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