话说回来，无论哪家公司是第一大PC制造商，今年下半年对传统PC的需求放缓已是板上钉钉之事。位于加州圣巴巴拉市的英特尔（Intel）下调了对2012年的预期，其竞争对手超威半导体（Advanced Micro Devices Inc.）最近发布的第二季度财报则显示，公司营收下滑了11%。IDC客户端及显示器部副总裁鲍勃•奥唐纳说：“目前的困难是，美国、西欧和其它发达国家的PC需求在放缓。还有哪些人需要PC而没有PC呢？”因此，市场目前关注的是PC替代产品。与此同时，疲软的世界经济让消费者相信，没有必要升级PC。
同时，大受追捧并在今年一月份的消费电子展（Consumer Electronics Show）中受到热议的超极本（Ultrabooks）并未受到消费者的青睐。所谓的超极本是轻薄、且功能强大的笔记本电脑，是旨在与苹果热销的MacBook Air竞争的Windows个人电脑。但高高在上的价格可能抑制了超极端=本的发展势头。奥唐纳说：“超极本的售价不便宜，既不是999美元，也不是899美元。”
微软（Microsoft）将在10月份推出的Windows 8也于事无补，特别是它可能只会进一步推高新电脑的成本。“由于Windows 8即将推出，人们将推迟购买电脑，问题在于这种情况可能延续到10月份之后。”咨询公司弗雷斯特研究公司（Forrester Research）副总裁兼首席分析师安德鲁•巴特尔斯说：“过去的经验表明，企业客户、乃至消费者都可能采取观望态度。”
其中一个因素将是消费者能否轻松升级。最近一次从Windows Vista到Windows 7的升级被认为非常顺利，但其中并不存在巨大的技术飞跃。而过去比较复杂的升级、尤其是升级到Windows 95、Windows XP当然还有臭名昭著的Windows Vista，使得很多企业和个人用户干脆换了台新电脑。斯蒂斯说：“我们认为Windows 8在10月份发布时确实有可能推高PC销量。而在此之前，Windows 8只是在制造泡沫效应。”这意味着在八月和整个九月，PC销量都将放缓。
Blame it on lack of innovation. Blame it on the economy. Blame it on the tablet. Whatever one blames it on, PCs are not doing well. Sales of computers were down in the second quarter and the outlook for the rest of 2012 is gloomy. Even the upcoming release of Microsoft Windows 8 is unlikely to shift the wheezing PC business back into gear.
What's going on?
Market research firm IDC reported that PC shipments totaled 86.7 million units last quarter, down 0.1% from the year earlier period. This was far below IDC's projection of 2.1% growth. Gartner also reported the decline in sales, counting approximately 87.5 million units. "It certainly seems that the industry as a whole is in a slump," said Craig Stice, senior principal analyst for computer platforms at IHS iSuppli. "Bottom line is still the economic conditions worldwide."
Another factor in the slowdown of PC sales is the continued growth of do-more tablet computers and smartphones. Counting tablets as PCs actually causes Apple (AAPL) to dethrone Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) from the top PC vendor spot. Boosted by strong demand for its iPad tablet, Apple was the top PC seller worldwide according to the UK-based Canalys, which counts tablets 7-inches or larger as PCs. During the second quarter of 2012 Apple sold 17 million iPads and 4 million Macs.
Still, regardless of which company is considered the top vendor, the fact is that the outlook for the rest of the year is likely slowing demand for traditional PCs. Santa Clara, California-based Intel (INTC) cut its 2012 forecast, while rival Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (AMD) recently disclosed that its second quarter revenue slumped 11%. "The challenge now is that PC demand in the United States, Western Europe and the developed world is slowing down," said Bob O'Donnell, vice president of clients and displays for IDC. "Who out there now needs a PC and doesn't have one?" As a result the market is now focused on replacements, he added. A shaky economy, meanwhile, is convincing consumers they don't really need an upgrade.
Are there any bright spots? O'Donnell's answer: developing markets -- but they still depends on underlying economic strength. "China's economy is slowing down, and India is slower than people had hoped for," he said. "Brazil is doing well, and will surpass the United States in shipments but that isn't enough to keep the industry in good shape."
Meanwhile, highly touted Ultrabooks which received a lot of buzz at this year's Consumer Electronics Show in January haven't caught on with consumers. So-called Ultrabooks, thin and light yet powerful notebooks, were intended as the Windows PC industry's answer to Apple's hot-selling MacBook Air. But high prices may have slowed their momentum. "Ultrabooks didn't sell at $999 and $899," said O'Donnell.
The October arrival of Microsoft's (MSFT) Windows 8 isn't likely to help matters, especially as it will likely only add to the cost of a new computer. "People will hold off as Windows 8 is around the corner, but that could continue beyond October," said Andrew Bartels, vice president and principal analyst at Forrester Research. "Past experience shows that corporate buyers and even consumers could take a wait and see attitude."
One factor will be whether consumers can upgrade easily. While the most recent update from Windows Vista to Windows 7 was considered fairly smooth, it didn't constitute a great technical leap. Past complex upgrades, notably to Windows 95, Windows XP and of course the notorious Windows Vista had many corporate and consumer users simply opting for a new computer. "We think Windows 8 does have the potential to drive sales when it is released in October," said Stice. "Until then Windows 8 is creating that bubble effect leading up it." That means slow sales throughout the rest of August and September.
In the meantime, as Apple continues to dominate in the tablet space it could see some growth with its desktops and notebooks. Says Bartels, "So far Wintel vendors haven't come up with an alternative."