PC prices to go up later this year, Gartner warns

PC makers may also reduce features in laptops or desktops to keep prices stable

Dell PCs
Credit: Simon Bisson

PC prices have enjoyed record lows for many years now, but buyers might have to shell out a few more bucks for their desired laptop or desktop later this year.

Research firm Gartner is sounding the alarm that PC prices might go up later this year due to recent currency fluctuations. The effect may especially be felt in Europe and Japan, where local currencies are weakening against the U.S. dollar.

The alternative to rising prices is fewer features. PC makers might opt for less memory, a cheaper webcam or a lower-capacity hard drive to avoid higher prices. PC makers do something similar every holiday shopping season when they sell computers at rock-bottom prices.

The PC price increases will likely affect Windows PCs the most. That's because more storage, memory and hardware features go into Windows PCs than competitors like Chromebooks or Chromeboxes, which have minimal storage, small amounts of memory and a low-cost processor.

The roughly one third of buyers in the market for sub-$500 PCs might be satisfied with lower specs, but Gartner said those looking to buy PCs above $500 might delay purchases. The price increase will hurt PC shipments, and computer makers may correct the market in 2016 by lowering pricing, which could encourage buyers to upgrade computers.

Businesses will likely cut the PC purchases by 20 percent this year, Gartner said.

Agam Shah covers PCs, tablets, servers, chips and semiconductors for IDG News Service. Follow Agam on Twitter at @agamsh. Agam's e-mail address is agam_shah@idg.com

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