- Gross margins for ultramobile premium PCs can be as high as 25%
- Gaming PCs offer long-term profitability, IoT needs to be harnessed
THE worldwide PC market registered one of its lowest quarterly growth rates in the first quarter of 2016, but Gartner Inc said several profit opportunities exist for PC vendors.
“PCs are no longer the first or only devices users are choosing for Internet access,” said Gartner principal research analyst Meike Escherich.
“Over the last five years, global shipments of traditional PCs (desktops and notebooks) have fallen from 343 million units in 2012 to an estimated 232 million units in 2016.
“In terms of revenue, the global PC market has contracted from US$219 billion in 2012 to an expected US$122 billion in 2016,” she added.
Many vendors in the mid-tier of the PC ecosystem are struggling, Gartner said in a statement.
“They are severely reducing their regional and country-level presence, or leaving the PC market altogether,” said Escherich.
“Between them, Acer, Fujitsu, Samsung, Sony and Toshiba have lost 10.5% market share since 2011. In the first quarter of 2016, Dell, HP Inc and Lenovo gained market share but recorded year-over-year declines,” she added.
Regional markets are also changing. Low oil prices and political uncertainties are driving economic tightening in Brazil and Russia, changing these countries from drivers of growth to market laggards, Gartner said.
In terms of volume, the United States, China, Germany, the United Kingdom and Japan remain the top five, but consumers in these markets have also been cutting their number of PCs per household.
“Nevertheless, PCs are still able to deliver in areas that smartphones and tablets cannot, with larger screens, ergonomic keyboards, greater storage and more powerful computer processors,” said Tracy Tsai, research vice president at Gartner.
“With an oversaturated market and falling average selling prices (ASPs), PC vendors must focus on optimising profitability to sustain growth,” she added.
Growing demand for ultramobile premium
Despite a declining PC market, the ultramobile premium segment is on pace to achieve revenue growth this year – the only segment set to do so, Gartner said. It is estimated to reach US$34.6 billion, an increase of 16% from 2015.
Ultramobiles are a category of midsize lightweight computing devices, which includes tablets, thin and lightweight PCs and convertibles, according to Gartner’s definition.
These devices typically have a display size between 7in and 13.9in, and with weight typically under 3.5 pounds (1.6 kg).
Gartner identifies three types of ultramobiles: Premium ultramobile, basic ultramobile and utility ultramobile. Premium ultramobiles are user-interface-optimised for media consumption, while retaining capabilities for full-scale data processing.
Examples of ultramobile premium devices include Microsoft’s Surface Pro (pic above), Lenovo Yoga 3 Pro and Apple’s MacBook Air.
In 2019, Gartner forecasts that the ultramobile premium segment will become the largest segment of the PC market in revenue terms, at US$57.6 billion.
“The ultramobile premium market is also more profitable in comparison with the low-end segment, where PCs priced at US$500 or less have 5% gross margins,” said Tsai.
“The gross margin can reach up to 25% for high-end ultramobile premium PCs priced at US$1,000 or more,” she added.
The segment will continue to grow thanks to replacement demand for traditional PCs and the touch experience that the two-in-one market (tablets and hybrids) provides, Gartner said.
While the ASP for the ultramobile premium segment is not expected to fall rapidly, it will eventually move toward US$600 in constant-currency terms.
This situation, together with innovative two-in-one products, will entice users to not only replace their PC, but also look to upgrade to a device with more functionality and flexibility.
PC vendors need to adjust their portfolio of ultramobile premiums in markets such as North America, Western Europe, Greater China, Mature Asia Pacific and Japan, where the ultramobile premium segment continues to grow, Gartner said.
Gaming PCs, the IoT
While the gaming PC market is a very small market with only a few million units sold a year, the ASP of a gaming PC is significantly higher than that of a nongaming PC, Gartner said.
ASPs range from US$850 for an entry-level gaming PC notebook to US$1,500 for a premium model.
“The high-end, purpose-built gaming PC segment (for example, US$1,000 or more) is where PC vendors should focus for long-term profitability, despite this segment’s competitiveness,” said Tsai.
PC vendors also need to turn to the Internet of Things (IoT) market and identify which of its areas have most potential for profit.
For example, PC vendors can use the IoT to improve customer service and product improvement, Gartner suggested.
“Vendors could detect with sensors if a battery is getting too hot or a hard-disk drive is being overworked, and they could send an alert to customers to get PCs checked before they suddenly go down,” said Tsai.
“This would save vendors' operating costs and also helps users with better service,” she added.
More detailed analysis is available for Gartner clients in the report Market Trends: Three Key Strategies to Increasing Profits in the PC Market.
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