PCs still not dead: Businesses are buying more than Intel expected

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Credit: Gareth Simpson via Flickr

So maybe the PC isn't dead after all: Intel just raised its revenue guidance for the second quarter by $700 million, crediting "stronger than expected demand for business PCs.

This is more or less what we heard would happen last December when we talked to analyst Ben Bajarin, who previously called the more than 10% drop in PC sales in 2013. Except Bajarin thought that the uptick would be driven by consumers replacing ancient desktops and buying powerful new notebooks. Instead, it appears that businesses are picking up the slack. (Although it's also possible that consumers are buying business PCs for their extra power.)

This is a bit surprising because businesses generally replace their PCs on a pre-defined cycle, which usually ranges between three and seven years. One possibility is that businesses who were due for a hardware refresh around the time of Windows 8 but chose to wait a little bit until Microsoft reversed some of the interace decisions that made Windows 8 seem unfamiliar and hard to use. Windows 8.1, released earlier this year, has a lot of improvements for keyboard-mouse users, including the return of a Start button (although it still defaults to the new-fangled Windows 8 Start screen; a more traditional Start Menu may show up in the next update).

The final end of support for Windows XP this quarter might also have played a greater role than Intel and other pundits expected.

But most likely, this is a reflection of a general economic uptick. When business is good, businesses spend more -- including on technology.

I stand by my prediction that the consumer PC market will continue to erode dramatically, as tablets replace PCs for casual users and for the second (and beyond) computing device for families. I also think that tablets will continue to find a place in businesses where there was previously no computing device at all, like on factory floors.

But for information workers who need to type and use complicated apps designed for keyboards and mice, the PC is going to stick around for a long long time.

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