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IDC's Five Year Forecast See's Notebooks and Detachables as Growth Areas, Desktops and Tablets in Steady Decline

1af x 2017 May - cover detachable market


In a new IDC report forecasting the future growth of PC devices, IDC goes out on a limb by forecasting 'detachables' as the single PC device that will grow over one percent over the next five years (2016 – 2021). More specifically they forecast 'detachables' will grow 16.4% in contrast with tablets that they forecast will decline by 6.9% in that same time period.


Last June Patently Apple posted a report titled "In Q1 2016, Apple Led the Detachables Market in the U.K. Hands Down with the iPad Pro." The latest worldwide tablet shipments data released for Q1 2017 shows that Apple remains in the lead even in a declining market. Yet IDC continues to pump-up Microsoft over Apple even though that position has never panned out for them to date. In truth,  Microsoft's Surface tablets, including the Surface Book, have never been able to crack the top five IDC tablet vendors list.


2 AF X2017 - IDC PC DEVICE FORECAST 2016 - 2021

Yet with that said, Microsoft's fortunes may begin to experience growth in Q1 2018 due to a barrage of PC vendors jumping on the detachables sector with Windows 10 on ARM architecture in Q4 2017. Though one on one, Surface will not overtake Apple's iPad any time soon. As a Windows 10 vs iOS duo, Windows may pull ahead in 2018 if everything is perfectly on schedule for Q4.


Today's IDC report noted that "Within the tablet category, the high-level story hasn't changed all that much. The expectation remains that slate tablets will continue to decline at double-digit rates in 2017, with contraction slowing in the later years of the forecast while detachable tablets are expected to continue strong growth. However, coming off a weaker than expected 2016 for detachable tablets, IDC reduced its overall detachable tablet forecast with the largest reductions coming from the United States and Asia/Pacific (excluding Japan)."


Ryan Reith, program vice president with IDC's Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Device Trackers noted for the report that "Sales of detachable tablets haven't quite met our expectations and as a result we've reduced volume projections throughout the forecast period."


Reith added that "New detachable tablet products continue to hit the market but the reality of this relatively new product category is that Microsoft and Apple control close to 50% of the volume and both companies have very cyclical product releases and relatively high price points."


Wow, with Apple's iPad being number one and Microsoft not even on the latest tablet chart for Q1 2017, IDC tried to make it sound that Microsoft and Apple were on equal footing which is a bald-faced lie. All Surface products, excluding the new Surface Book laptop, are detachables technically and Microsoft never made the top tablet's chart. Chalk one up for fake news.


To further pump-up Microsoft, IDC's Reith noted that "One piece of industry movement that we continue to watch closely is OEMs that have traditionally focused on the smartphone space moving further into the Windows device market. This is happening with both detachable tablets and notebook PCs, and as recently as this week Huawei announced very attractive products in both categories."


And finally on the PC front, IDC notes that "As a collective group of device categories, the PCD market is expected to return to growth in 2019, albeit marginally small. Led by a modest recovery in Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) and Asia/Pacific in the first quarter of 2017, the traditional PC market registered its first quarter of positive year-on-year growth since Q1 2012. Despite the improvement, growth was less than 1% and headwinds remain. IDC expects traditional PC shipments to return to a slow decline until positive growth resumes in 2019. Desktop volume will continue to decline as consumers move to other platforms, while notebook volume will grow modestly, boosted by the commercial market and a steady move toward ultraslim and convertible notebooks.


"The steady refinement of slim and convertible designs, as well as rising commercial spending are helping stabilize overall traditional PC shipments," said Loren Loverde, vice president with IDC's Worldwide Personal Computing Device Tracker and Tracker Forecasting. "Although traditional PC shipments will decline slightly by the end of the forecast, rising replacements and steadier growth in emerging regions will keep commercial growth in positive territory and sustain total annual shipments above 252 million throughout the forecast."



Yet with new leaps coming to desktops beginning this summer with Ryzen and more specifically the ThreadRipper, desktops could experience a mild comeback if VR headsets, like Facebook's Oculus, can deliver super high-end VR gaming experiences powered by the crazy power of these new desktops.


Some current system already offer 8GB of Nvidia GPUs (GeForce 1070) out of the box like this HP system. The gaming community may be ready to upgrade to these new systems coming out over the course of the next two years to boost desktop sales – though overall, they'll likely not return to their former glory days unless tech leaders like Apple decide to reinvent the desktop.


We all know that Apple is currently working on a whole new power modular desktop system. Apple is focused on delivering major Augmented Reality experiences in the future as 5G networks come to market and the desktop is likely to be the benefactor due to their brute power. So – you never know – the PC may still have a brighter future for pros and consumers than IDC is forecasting.


One More Thing


In our patent report posted this morning titled "Apple Continues to Advance a Hybrid Notebook with a Reconfigurable Surface Supporting a Virtual Keyboard & more" we noted that technically, Apple's patent-pending invention could in fact be a hybrid / detachable device. Apple has been working on a dual iPad device for some time as noted in Apple's patent figure below. The point being that Apple has a few tricks of their own for future detachables that could very well keep the Windows machine at bay for many years to come.



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