The 'Book Review

5% PC Sales Decline, Apple 2013 Predictions, Lenovo Yoga 13 Convertible, and More 'Book News

This Week's Mac Notebook News

Compiled by Charles Moore and edited by Dan Knight - 2013.01.21

News & Opinion

Rumor Roundup

Tech Trends

Bargain 'Books

General Apple and Mac desktop news is covered in Mac News Review. iPad, iPod, iPhone, and Apple TV news is covered in iOS News Review. Older Macs are covered in Vintage Mac News. All prices are in US dollars unless otherwise noted.

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News & Opinion

Gartner: Worldwide PC Shipments Down 4.9% in Q4 2012 Signaling Structural Market Shift

PR: Worldwide PC shipments totaled 90.3 million units in the fourth quarter of 2012, a 4.9% year-over-year decline from the fourth quarter of 2011, according to preliminary results by Gartner, Inc. Analysts said the PC industry's problems point to something beyond a weak economy.

"Tablets have dramatically changed the device landscape for PCs, not so much by 'cannibalizing' PC sales, but by causing PC users to shift consumption to tablets rather than replacing older PCs," says Mikako Kitagawa, principal analyst at Gartner. "Whereas as once we imagined a world in which individual users would have both a PC and a tablet as personal devices, we increasingly suspect that most individuals will shift consumption activity to a personal tablet, and perform creative and administrative tasks on a shared PC. There will be some individuals who retain both, but we believe they will be exception and not the norm. Therefore, we hypothesize that buyers will not replace secondary PCs in the household, instead allowing them to age out and shifting consumption to a tablet."

"This transformation was triggered by the availability of compelling low-cost tablets in 2012, and will continue until the installed base of PCs declines to accommodate tablets as the primary consumption device," Ms. Kitagawa said. "On the positive side for vendors, the disenfranchised PCs are those with lighter configurations, which mean that we should see an increase in PC average selling prices (ASPs) as users replace machines used for richer applications, rather than for consumption."

During the holiday season, consumers no longer viewed PCs as the number one gift item. Given a burgeoning variety of increasingly more attractive devices and services, consumers directed their attention elsewhere. Analysts said there was uptake of very low priced notebooks as a part of mega holiday deals, but this uptake did little to boost holiday PC sales.

Neither did the launch of Microsoft's Windows 8 have a significant impact on PC shipments in the fourth quarter. Analysts said some PC vendors offered somewhat lackluster form factors in their Windows 8 offerings and missed the excitement of touch. New products are coming to market, and this could drive churn within the installed base.

HP regained top position in worldwide PC shipments in the fourth quarter of 2012 (see Table 1), however the company's shipments did not grow compared to a year ago. Analysts said HP most likely gave up a certain margin level to gain market shares. HP was successful in managing large retail deals targeting Microsoft's Windows 8 launch and holiday sales in selected regions.

Note that Gartner data includes desk-based PCs and mobile PCs, including mini-notebooks but not media tablets such as the iPad.

Preliminary Worldwide PC Unit Shipments

Lenovo dropped to the No. 2 position in the fourth quarter of 2012, but experienced the best growth rate (8.2%) among the top five PC vendors worldwide. Lenovo's growth exceeded regional growth rates in North America, EMEA and Asia/Pacific, but was lower than the industry average in Latin America and Japan. In North America, Lenovo performed well by expanding in the retail market and protecting professional market.

In the U.S., PC shipments totaled 17.5 million units in the fourth quarter of 2012, a 2.1% decline from the fourth quarter of 2011 (see Table 2). Due to the tight inventory control and preparation for the Windows 8 launch, most PC vendors were able to ship Windows 8 PCs to the retail space. However, Gartner notes that PC sell-through was rather weak, which leaves some level of inventory concerns for vendors in the consumer market.

"Consumer's holiday spending went into other products and services, and U.S. holiday sales became less important for PC sales. For professionals, the fourth quarter is typically a good sales season because of last minutes PC purchases before the tax year-end. Our early research indicates that there was good growth in professional PC sales," Ms. Kitagawa said.

Preliminary US PC Unit Shipments

PC shipments in EMEA totaled 28.1 million units in the fourth quarter of 2012, a 9.6% decrease from the fourth quarter of 2011 (see Table 3). Western Europe remained the weak point across EMEA, as Central and Eastern Europe and the Middle East and Africa saw growth quarter-on-quarter.

"The PC market continues to face many headwinds. The launch of Windows 8 had no impact on PC demand, especially as Ultramobile products were both limited in supply, as well as being priced too high," says Ranjit Atwal, research director at Gartner. "The holiday season mostly saw retailers clearing Windows 7 notebook inventory or driving volume of low-end notebooks. Furthermore, the increasing choice of tablets at decreasing price points no doubt became a favorite Christmas present ahead of PCs."

"In the fourth quarter of 2012, mobile PC shipments decreased 11% while desktop PC shipments declined 6% year-on-year," comment Isabelle Durand, another Gartner principal research analyst. "However, all-in-one form factor models from Asus, Lenovo and HP look like a promising platform for the future."

HP retained the No. 1 position in the fourth quarter of 2012, thanks to good results across all products in the professional PC segment. Dell performed weakly, losing nearly 2% share in the fourth quarter of 2012. Among the top five vendors, only Lenovo showed year-on-year growth and its strong performance in the quarter helped it displace Acer from the No. 2 position.

In the second half of 2012, the EMEA PC market experienced two consecutive quarters of decline, resulting in overall shipments for 2012 declining 2.8% from 2011. Western Europe lost another 10% of volume, indicating likely structural changes to the market rather than weak demand.

Preliminary EMEA PC Unit Shipments

PC shipments in Asia/Pacific totaled 29.9 million units in the fourth quarter of 2012, a 1.8% decline from the fourth quarter of 2011. Vendors struggled to offer compelling products to convince buyers to upgrade and attract new buyers as consumers' interest continues to be on smartphones and tablets. The introduction of Windows 8 met with lukewarm response and availability was primarily on the higher-end models, which were priced beyond the mainstream price point for volume sales.

For the year, PC shipments were 352.7 million units, a 3.5% decline from 2011 (see Table 4). HP retained the top spot in the global PC market, accounting for 16% of the market. Lenovo was the No. 2 vendor with 14.8% market share. Asus showed the strongest growth among the top five vendors, with shipments increasing 17.1%.

Preliminary Worldwide PC Unit Shipments

These results are preliminary. Final statistics will be available soon to clients of Gartner's PC Quarterly Statistics Worldwide by Region program. This program offers a comprehensive and timely picture of the worldwide PC market, allowing product planning, distribution, marketing and sales organizations to keep abreast of key issues and their future implications around the globe.

Rumor Roundup

Apple's 2013 Predictions: Multiple iPhones, Retina iPad Mini, All-Retina MacBook Pros

MacRumors' Eric Slivka reports that KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who has a very good track record in predicting Apple's product plans, has issued a new research report outlining his expectations for Apple's 2013 product launches. Kuo believes that Apple will focus its launches on the third quarter of this year, with a number of updates throughout the company's various product families.

Highlights:

  • Both an iPhone 5S with A7 SoC and a revamped iPhone 5 around June or July
  • iPad and iPad mini updates during the Q313 - iPad mini getting a Retina display, full-size iPad will considerably slimmer and lighter
  • Good-bye non-Retina MacBook Pro line; all-Retina MBP lineup at cheaper price points than current Retina models
  • No Retina displays for MacBook Air in 2013; Haswell silicon main Air upgrade
  • No Retina displays for iMac in 2013. He simply predicts a shift to
  • Haswell for iMac and Mac mini in Q4
  • Silent on Mac Pro
  • Fifth-generation, cheaper, less capable iPod touch

AppleInsider also has a report on Mr. Kuo's forecast.

Tech Trends

Lenovo Yoga 13 Convertible Offers 4 Form Factor Variations

Lenovo Yoga 13
Lenovo Yoga 13 in laptop mode.

PR: Lenovo's Yoga 13 combines the productivity of an Ultrabook with the touch experience of a tablet, taking full advantage of Windows 8's touch functionality. The screen flips a full 360 degrees into four modes that make it easy to create, share, or consume content.

10-Finger Multitouch Touchscreen Technology

Lenovo Yoga 13
Lenovo Yoga 13 in tent mode.

Lenovo Motion Control uses the webcam as an input device, allowing you to easily flip pages, rewind/forward music, change the volume, and gesture other simple commands.

Long Battery Life and Standby Time

Lenovo Yoga 13
Lenovo Yoga 13 in stand mode.

Cycle through Yoga's four modes with Lenovo Transition, a technology that automatically switches system settings and locks the keyboard in place

Other Yoga Features

  • Integrated 720p HD webcam
  • USB 3.0 SuperSpeed, USB 2.0, and 3-in-1 card reader
  • InstantResume to wake from sleep mode in one second
  • HD graphics support with HDMI output to connect to a TV or monitor
  • Lenovo Cloud storage to access your files from all your devices
  • OneKey Rescue for fast recovery and protection

Lenovo Yoga 13
Lenovo Yoga 13 flexibility.

With four modes, you get four ways to use Windows 8 apps:

  1. Laptop Mode - get down to work with Microsoft Office. Or stay organized with Evernote.
  2. Tablet Mode - read on, or browse the Web with the touch of a finger
  3. Tent Mode set up in the kitchen to reference recipes with iCookBook.
  4. Stand Mode - entertainment to go.

IdeaPad Yoga 13 starts at $1,049, with upmarket models selling for $1,329 and $1,499.

A Meditation on the Portable PC: The Register Reviews Lenovo's IdeaPad Yoga 13

The Register's Bob Dormon says that strictly speaking reviewing, Lenovo's IdeaPad Yoga shouldn't really be all about Windows 8, and that the touchscreen Ultrabook that bends over backwards to become a fully fledged tablet is a well crafted piece of hardware with engineering merits of its own. The thing is, however, that without Windows 8 as an enabler of Yoga's touch features, it and a gaggle of other touch and type convertible laptops wouldn't need to exist either.

Dormon says he's gotten past his initial "toe-curling hatred of Microsoft's new OS," and that using the Yoga IdeaPad 13, which made it easier to understand the "Modern Interface" mindset, helped. He observes that Windows 8 without a touchscreen is tedious, but using it on purpose-built hardware isn't all that bad, and that Lenovo has done an elegant job of incorporating convertible PC attributes with the Yoga, with which you can still have a tablet, but also a real PC laptop with a decent - albeit undersized - keyboard, although unfortunately not the spill resistant sort found on the company's ThinkPad laptops and not backlit, and a 10 x 7cm trackpad that utilizes a Synaptics ClickPad control panel that enables a variety of gestures from pinch-to-zoom to two finger right clicking and scrolling. Consequently, rather than being obliged to use the horrible body-English of reaching over the keyboard to manipulate a vertically-oriented touchscreen, you can do the requisite touch stuff with the trackpad.

Dormon also notes that convertible laptops inevitably come with the consequence of grubby, greasy, smeary screens - 1600 x 900 resolution in this instance.

He also observes that Lenovo has followed Apple in dumping an ethernet port along with the internal optical drive, and it tried out Ubuntu Linux on the Yoga.

Lenovo Planning Intel- and ARM-based Android Notebook/Tablet Convertibles for Early 2013

DigiTimes' Monica Chen and Steve Shen report that having unveiled its IdeaPad Yoga 11S notebook/tablet convertible mobile device at CES 2013, Lenovo now reportedly plans to expand its IdeaPad Yoga family by also launching Intel- or ARM-based convertibles running Android OS in the first half of 2013, according to industry sources.

Chen and Shen's informants say Lenovo's planned offerings will target the Android tablet segment, fulfilling Intel's commitment to rolling out Android-based tablets through joint efforts with Lenovo.

The report says Lenovo's Yoga 11S will be powered by an Intel Core i5 processor running Windows 8 with an 11.6" HD IPS panel and 10-point multitouch support, with June availability anticipated.

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