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PC sales surge during coronavirus crisis, reports show
PC sales surged in the June quarter, driven by higher demand from workers and students forced to study and work from home amid the coronavirus, according to preliminary data from two industry-research firms.
Global PC shipments rose 11% to 72.3 million in the quarter, with the U.S. posting its highest quarterly-shipment volume in more than a decade, according to preliminary data from International Data Corp (IDC) and Gartner.
"The strong demand driven by work-from-home as well as e-learning needs has surpassed previous expectations and has once again put the PC at the center of consumers' tech portfolio," said IDC Mobile Device Trackers research manager Jitesh Ubrani.
"What remains to be seen is if this demand and high level of usage continues during a recession and into the post-COVID world since budgets are shrinking while schools and workplaces reopen."
Both market trackers ranked HP and Lenovo as the top two PC makers, with Dell in third place. Apple, which doesn't use Microsoft's Windows operating system but is nevertheless grouped among PC makers, came in fourth.
Gartner research director Mikako Kitagawa described the second-quarter figures as a short-term recovery, with some of the growth due to distributors and shops restocking supplies as they become available.
Early indicators suggest strong PC shipments for education, business, and consumer uses such as streaming entertainment, according to IDC's devices and displays research vice president Linn Huang.
"With inventory still back-ordered, this goodwill will continue into July," Huang said.
"However, as we head deeper into a global recession, the goodwill sentiment will increasingly sour."
India’s PC market bounces back due to strong notebook demand
According to the latest IDC (International Data Corporation) Quarterly Personal Computing Device Tracker May 2017, the overall India Traditional PC shipment for Q1 2017 stood at 2.16 million units (i.e. quarter on quarter growth of 12.5 percent over Q4 2016 and year on year growth of 8.5 percent over Q1 2016).
The overall consumer PC market registered a shipment of 1.05 million units in Q1 2017, with a healthy 14.5 percent growth from the same period last year and 19.4 percent quarter on quarter growth.
“Post demonetization reform, market observed an upbeat demand owing to an optimistic shift in discretionary spending from consumers in first quarter of 2017,” says Manish Yadav , Associate Research Manager, Client Devices, IDC India.
The overall commercial PC market recorded a shipment of 1.11 million units in Q1 2017. On the backdrop of seasonality, execution of state-owned manifesto deals and increase spending from BFSI vertical, Q1 2017 observed a quarter on quarter growth of 6.7 percent and 3.3 percent year on year over Q1 2016.
“Commercial spending remained optimistic about the economic scenario and the potential for growth, despite uncertainty surrounding the stability of global economy,” says Sanjeev Sharma , Research Manager, Client Devices, IDC India.
“IDC India anticipates a short-term postponement and resistance by traders during GST implementation phase. But in the long run owing to this structured tax regime the effect will get neutralized and will propel growth owing to festive season,” adds Yadav.
With focus, around enriching gaming as potential segment in consumer business, OEMs are looking to revamp their product portfolio and upsell in mid to premium range. On the other hand, commercial business is expected to grow over the next few quarters driven by state owned education projects.
Top 3 Vendor Highlights:
HP Inc. led the market with a 29.5% share of the overall India traditional PC market in Q1 2017. In addition to their success in the consumer segment, HP Inc. picked up some key wins and executed a few state-owned education projects along with fulfillment of projects in the banking and financial sector. This has led to a 5.8% growth quarter on quarter in the overall India traditional PC market in Q1 2017.
Dell took the second spot with 22.5 percent market share in the overall India traditional PC market in Q1 2017. The vendor continues to drive new initiatives and programs to provide seamless experience of learning for students through technology. Owing to such initiatives the vendor grew by 19.9 percent quarter on quarter in overall traditional consumer PC market in Q1 2017. Simultaneously the Dell EMC merger has provided the vendor an extra space for customer expansion, which could prove to be beneficial in the near future as well.
Lenovo held on to the third spot, with a 17.7 percent market share in the overall India traditional PC market in Q1 2017 and recorded a quarter on quarter growth of 15.1 percent, owing to the complete execution of manifesto project. The vendor also grew by 16.9 percent quarter on quarter in the overall consumer market owing to the efforts observed in improving the after sales support with different initiatives using not just the traditional way, but also social media and other new age technologies.
As IoT grows, PC popularity wanes
Recent preliminary results from Gartner, Inc. shows that worldwide PC (personal computer) shipments totaled 72.6 million units in the fourth quarter of 2016, a 3.7 percent decline from the fourth quarter of 2015. In total, for the year 2016, PC shipments totaled 269.7 million units, a 6.2 percent decline from 2015. The significance of PCs is diminishing as the smartphone trend and popularity of connected devices takes center stage. PC shipments have declined annually since 2012, while mobile broadband subscriptions have been growing by around 25 percent annually, increasing by approximately 190 million in Q3 2016 alone, Ericsson reports.
Mobile subscriptions are growing at around three percent year on year globally and reached 7.5 billion in 2016, according to Ericsson’s recent Mobility Report. The increased efficiency of smartphones is outweighing traditional PCs, making them less necessary to own. While Lenovo holds the position as the world’s biggest PC and laptop maker, it cannot hide from the fact that globally, PC sales in 2016 were down by 6.2 percent. Meanwhile, the number of mobile subscriptions exceeds the population in many countries, according to Ericsson.
"Stagnation in the PC market continued into the fourth quarter of 2016 as holiday sales were generally weak due to the fundamental change in PC buying behavior," said Mikako Kitagawa, principal analyst at Gartner. "The broad PC market has been static as technology improvements have not been sufficient to drive real market growth. There have been innovative form factors like 2-in-1s and thin and light notebooks, as well as technology improvements, such as longer battery life. This end of the market has grown fast, led by engaged PC users who put high priority on PCs. However, the market driven by PC enthusiasts is not big enough to drive overall market growth."
Ms. Kitagawa continued: "There is the other side of the PC market, where PCs are infrequently used. Consumers in this segment have high dependency on smartphones, so they stretch PC life cycles longer. This side of the market is much bigger than the PC enthusiast segment; thus, steep declines in the infrequent PC user market offset the fast growth of the PC enthusiast market."
In Ericsson’s Mobility Report, it says greater device affordability is encouraging new mobile subscribers in developing regions, while growth in mature markets is largely due to individuals adding more devices; meanwhile, PC sales are declining. What’s more, with 5G on the horizon, smartphones will be able to cater to even higher demands of service. The introduction of 5G, according to Ericsson, will accelerate transformation in many industry verticals, enabling new use cases in areas such as automation, IoT and big data.
Smartphones are becoming more dominant than PCs, but Ms. Kitagawa indicates that there is still hope for the PC market. Although the overall PC market will see stagnation, there are growth opportunities within the market such as the engaged PC user market, the business market and gaming. However, these growth areas will not prevent the overall decline of the PC market, at least in the next year, she says.
Four of the top six PC vendors experienced an increase in worldwide PC shipments in the fourth quarter of 2016, according to Gartner’s research. The top three vendors all increased their global market share in the fourth quarter. Lenovo maintained the number one position, as the company experienced shipment increases in North America and EMEA, while Asia/Pacific and Japan continued to be challenging markets.
In addition, HP remained in the second position and it has recorded three consecutive quarters of shipment growth. HP secured the top position in PC shipments in the US and EMEA, growing faster than the regional averages.
Dell also registered three consecutive quarters of shipment growth in Q4 2016. Dell continued to place PCs as a strategic business segment in commercial and consumer markets during 2016. Asus suffered the steepest decline among the top six vendors in the fourth quarter of 2016. The company has been shifting its PC strategy more toward the high-end market, which will allow it to maintain better profit margins. Gartner analysts said the falling shipment volume could be the cause of this strategy shift.
According to Ericsson’s Mobility Report, North America saw 405 million mobile subscriptions in 2016. Subscriptions associated with smartphones continue to increase, the report says, and have surpassed those for basic mobile phones. Fifty-five percent of all subscriptions are now for smartphones and, in Q3 2016, smartphones accounted for close to 80 percent of all mobile phones sold. In comparison, Gartner’s research says PC shipments in the US totaled just 16.5 million units in Q4 2016, a 1.3 percent decline from Q4 2016.
Five of the top six vendors in the US PC market experienced a shipment increase in the fourth quarter of 2016, according to Gartner. However, this was offset by a 20.9 percent decline in the ‘Others’ category, and a 48.3 percent decline in shipments by Asus.
"Similar to low-key back to school sales in 3Q16, big sales events, such as Black Friday, Cyber Monday and holiday sales are no longer effective marketing opportunities for PCs since PC purchases are generally driven by a 'need,' rather than 'want,' motivation," Ms. Kitagawa said. "PCs are not a preferred gift item any longer, as consumers gravitate toward other consumer electronics, such as virtual personal assistant (VPA) speakers, virtual reality (VR) head-mounted devices and wearables. Vendors and channels did not have high expectations for the holiday PC sales, so the marketing campaigns remained relatively quiet."
The consumer items that Ms. Kitagawa refers to – such as virtual reality headwear and wearables – fall under the IoT (internet of things) umbrella. Ericsson predicts that the number of projected IoT devices will reach 1.5 billion in 2022. This growth, according to the report, is due to increased industry focus and 3GPP standardization of cellular IoT technologies.
Europe, the Middle East and Africa saw a decline in PC shipments in 2016. PC shipments in EMEA surpassed 21.9 million units in the fourth quarter of 2016, a 3.4 percent decline year over year, according to Gartner. PC shipments to the consumer market were driven by good Black Friday sales in Western European countries, such as the UK and France, especially on traditional notebooks, ultramobile clamshells, the hybrid form factor and gaming PCs. Gartner's early estimates also show PC shipment growth in the business segment, led by Windows 10 deployments during the fourth quarter.
In addition, the Asia/Pacific PC market totaled 24.8 million units in the fourth quarter of 2016, a 3.9 percent decline from the fourth quarter of 2015, according to Gartner. The PC market was affected by two major events. First, the demonetization of the Indian currency in India led to weaker-than-expected consumer PC demand. Second, the success of China's 11.11 (Singles Day on 11 November) online shopping event gave a boost to consumer notebook sales.
Ultimately, growth in the number of connected devices is driven by emerging applications and business models, and supported by standardization and falling device costs, Ericsson reports. The traditional PC market is being swamped by the growing needs consumers have for mobility and convenience, which can be provided by smartphones and other connected devices under the umbrella of IoT.
Adapt or die: new business models for communications services providers
Nick Wilson, managing director, HP South Pacific and general manager, Enterprise Services, HP South Pacific, argues that the key to survival of for communications service providers lies in groundbreaking data analytics.
Every moment with a connected customer is a make or break experience. Communications services providers (CSPs) are only too aware that underperformance in delivering a quality customer experience will lead to customer churn.
Disruption from new over-the-top (OTT) content providers with new business models threatens traditional revenue streams for CSPs. They face cost inflation where increasing costs of IP networks outweigh revenues. Moving beyond commodity services to value-added services is the key to halting profit erosion.
Uncertainty and disruption caused by this rolling landscape require CSPs to establish new business and operating models quickly, and come up with alternative revenue resources.
For the majority, a key to finding the correct solution is close at hand. Every telco has vast sources of data that can prove invaluable. The challenge is working out how to harness this rich source of information for maximum advantage - and that involves making some smart, strategic decisions on the right technology mix.
Make good use of rich data
Historically operators have not taken advantage of the data they hold. Monetizing the value of data is now the means by which CSPs can generate new revenues to offset the commoditization of traditional services and compete in the over-the-top (OTT) market. It also has the potential to enable CSPs to target cross-sell and up-sell opportunities among the existing customer base.
Big data applications that are context aware place CSPs at the heart of the digital value chain. By combining real-time insight, such as location, interests and activities, with demographic knowledge, such as customer relationship management information, habits, and preferences, unparalleled marketing power can be achieved.
There are three core areas where CSPs can maximize the value of data.
The use of big data to target products and offers to increase loyalty and personalize the customer's experience according to their individual needs.
The use of network and IT data to increase operational efficiencies and improve effectiveness of the customer experience.
The use of operator data to identify new business models and look for partnering opportunities with OTT service providers that enrich customer services and extend subscriber revenues.
The opportunity is there to insert an organization into the digital value chain and be more than a network infrastructure provider.
Sourcing customer-centric big data
With this wealth of data available, the CSP that can harness the full value of analytics will provide the best platform for success. The CSP should be aiming to improve the customer experience and generate new revenue streams through more effective analysis of:
Network data: gain better network performance from optimization opportunities identified through analytics of usage records, performance monitoring, fault monitoring and call management data.
Subscriber data: from the network registry, operations support system and billing systems.
Application data: harnessing value from unstructured data such as traffic analysis, web/search/SMS/email, social media, mobile apps and device data.
Market data: to build a better picture of the customer including profile data, demographics and segmentation.
ANALYTICS as a tool for service quality
Customer experience and retention are inherently tied to service quality. However, with the rapid growth of devices and applications, and the pressure on network capacity, maintaining consistent service delivery poses significant challenges.
It is important to define key performance indicators that reflect a superior customer experience to support planning and service delivery, and provide measurable outcomes to evaluate performance.
Analytics plays an important role in service quality and capacity planning.
An effective analytics platform can monitor the performance of the network, predict service failures and reduce the risk of unexpected downtime.
Trends analysis can forecast bandwidth growth by location thereby triggering investments where additional capacity is needed.
Big data technology can help optimize data routing and bandwidth, especially during temporary spikes in demand such as major sporting events.
Strong focus on customer value
Imagine if big data analytics could be used to gain real-time insight into subscriber usage patterns, preferences and interests. These insights can help capitalize on opportunities and partner more effectively with new OTT providers. The reality is, however, that few CSPs have a consistent approach to data analytics or access to analytics skill sets across key disciplines.
Rather than simply increasing the average level of customer experience, it is possible to focus on specific customer lifetime value to provide the best return on investment. Analytics should be aiming for:
More personalized, innovative and efficient services and offers leading to greater customer satisfaction, less churn and an increase in the average revenue per user.
A rich and detailed single view of the customer for advanced segmentation, incentive and campaign targeting and price plan optimization, improved operational efficiency, lower operating cost and improved customer service with faster response times.
Success of the program can be measured through improvements in operational, bottom-line and superior customer experience.
An approach that covers all bases
An effective approach to customer experience and analytics is company-wide and cross-functional. It requires a holistic vision that bridges business functions such as marketing and products, and technical functions such as IT and network operations. It must also embrace different organizational boundaries, responsibilities and processes with well-defined roles to support clear business outcomes.
New initiatives are assessed using a business impact analysis that features capital and operating expenses, and quantifies savings and direct revenue gains. The benefits and impacts can be defined across the organization from the operations and network department, to marketing and customer service teams.
Industry benchmarks are critical for the main KPIs to help quantify cost reductions, revenue and margin improvements, operational efficiencies and customer experience. Every technology investment requires a business impact analysis to inform decision-making and to demonstrate how customer experience management solutions can impact the bottom line.
Making the right technology choices
Technology is opening up a new world for communications service providers to connect with their customers like never before. But simply investing in the latest sophisticated technology is not enough to keep and win customers and meet their evolving needs.
To understand and anticipate their customers' preferences, CSPs must harness the vast amounts of data and use it effectively, employing analytics in order to stay competitive.
Priorities have to be clearly mapped so that the correct investments are made in the right technology to provide their customers with the right service where they need it and when they need it. Only then will a truly superior customer experience be realized.