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Big, ugly, heavy laptops are surprise PC sales sweet spot

Mac Pro users are fleeing Cupertino for mobile workstations, says IDC

Things are so bad in the PC market that students of economics and physics are both probably keen to figure out just what's going on.

But there's a singularity of sunshine in the market, says box-counter IDC, in the form of a surge in sales for big, ugly, heavy laptops, aka certified workstations.

The “certified” is important because more than a few gaming-oriented laptops have workstation-class grunt. Such machines are not, however, certified to work with certain graphics intensive business applications, so aren't counted as workstations.

IDC reckons “shipments of mobile workstations improved 5.4% year over year to 288,270 units in 2Q15.” 288,270 is about half a morning's worth of PC sales across a quarter, so it's not as if the mobile workstation market is setting the world on fire. Yet in the current PC sales slump, any niche with sales heading up has to be welcome.

Why mobile workstations and why now? IDC senior research analyst Ebenezer Obeng-Nyarkoh reckons “high-end PC users and Apple Mac Pro users” are making the move because they want more grunt, better graphics and ISV-signoff on the machines they schlep into the field.

The uptick probably also reflects the fact it's easier than ever to build workstation-class portables, thanks to innovations like solid state disks and newer CPUs that offer plenty of power and speed while sipping power.

Desktop workstations aren't faring as well with sales down 3.7% year over year for 641,580 shipments in the second quarter.

The workstation market's a bright spot for HP, too, as it remains the number one vendor in the market even if its share is slipping. Lenovo's the only player in the market reporting strong growth, but its 13.2 per cent market share leaves it a long way behind Dell's 37.9 per cent and HP's 43.1 per cent. ®

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