What Can We Safely Infer From a Global Drop in PC Sales?

On April 10, 2013, IDC reported a 13.9% drop in first quarter global sales of PCs. What can we safely infer about software markets (enterprise computing, for one) from these numbers? In an article posted to the online Wall Street Journal on the same day these numbers were released, titled IDC: Global PC Shipments Drop 13.9% in First Quarter, written by Ian Sherr, much was made of a presumed connection between a very slow initial adoption of Microsoft’s Windows 8 operating system and the drop in sales. But is Windows 8 playing the role the analysts are attributing to it in this slow down?

We don’t think so. We think another real factor, with, perhaps comparable impact, is an authentic explosion in cloud computing subscriptions. Simply two online computing options — Microsoft Office 365 and Google Apps for Business — both of which deliver, today, a lot of the functionality of a PC to a tablet, smart phone, or even an obsolete PC, are making a strong impression on enterprise computing decision-makers. The US Federal government is one of the largest consumers of PCs in the world. The recent policy decision to require any federal agency to first explore any cloud computing options before opting for an on premises solution should not be under estimated as a significatn driver of some of this sales reduction.

When we factor in the curious performance of Microsoft’s stock over the last several trading sessions (the stock moved 5+% higher on merely April 9th and 10th of 2013, thought it gave back 2% of its gains after hours on the 10th), we find some support for our point. Office 365 is a Microsoft offer. We maintain an Enterprise E3 plan Office 365 subscription. We can attest to a substantial improvement in the usefulness of the product with the latest 2013 version. Could an upsurge in subscriptions to Office 365 take hardware market share from Windows OEMs, Dell, Lenovo and HP?

Ira Michael Blonder

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2013 All Rights Reserved

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