Windows 8 hype has hurt PC makers and distributors - Gartner

Sigh. 'Bought in too high and too early'... paying cost now

Gartner slashed its PC sales forecast yesterday evening amid warnings that a glut of unwanted Windows 8 kit is sitting in warehouses gathering dust.

The beancounter expects global shipments to reach a little over 305 million PCs this year, a decline of 10.6 per cent versus the previously projected drop of seven per cent.

It is not that consumers are spending much less, said Gartner principal analyst Ranjit Atwal, "it's just that vendors and their channels overplayed demand that did not materialise.

"Over Christmas there was a lot of Windows 8 product that didn't sell through fast enough and now needs to be moved on," he told The Channel.

He said a raft of convertible systems that double up as notebooks and slablets are on the way from PC makers in the second half of the year and vendors need to find a way to clear existing inventory.

Distie friends tell us that there is roughly 25 per cent more inventory in the tech channel than is ideal but that the situation is vastly better than it was in April.

"Ten weeks ago the market was in a much more worrisome state," one told us, "most manufacturers are in a healthier place. That said we've got more Windows 8 than we'd like.

"All distributors bought in too high, too early. We believed the hype. Microsoft and channel partners have a better job to do to explain the benefits of Windows 8 for consumers and businesses".

Lenovo continues to be the only major PC player to grow shipments as rivals HP, Dell and Acer go backwards.

Unlike HP and Dell, Acer is largely reliant on the PC revenues stream and last week at its AGM apologised to shareholders for a challenged loss-making 2012.

But according to reports, chairman and CEO JT Wang said it will not retreat from the PC market, and that the "good days are coming".

The good days for Acer were between 2003 and 2010 when it was lifted by a wave of demand for low-cost notebooks. The firm crashed down to earth again in 2011 when it did not foresee the collapsing PC sales.

Gartner's Atwal said the advent of smartphone and pads have made consumer buying decisions more complex, with each platform vying for attention.

Gartner said it expects a little over 289 million PCs to be shipped into distributors next year, and nearly as many tabs too, some 276 million devices. It projects that nearly 40 million Ultrabooks and 1.9 billion smartphones will also be pushed into the channel.

It anticipates that by the end of next year, Google Android will run on 37 per cent of the 2.34 billion devices sold. Windows is expected to be on 14.5 per cent, iOS/MacOS on 12.6 per cent, RIM on 10.7 per cent and the remaining 25.2 per cent of the OS market is made up by "others". ®

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