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The desktop -- time to say goodbye?

Notebooks gain market share as prices fall, power rises

By Robert L. Scheier
July 19, 2007 12:00 PM ET

Computerworld - When Paul Scheib at Boston's Children's Hospital goes shopping for PCs, his choice is more often a desktop than a notebook.

Despite price drops for notebooks in recent years, desktop computers are still less expensive. It's also easier to lock down ports on stationary desktops to prevent users from downloading sensitive information onto CD-ROMs or USB memory sticks. Of 5,400 PCs in use at the hospital, only about 600 are notebook computers -- and most of those travel only within the halls of the hospital, secured to mobile carts.

"Desktops are the default choice" except when there is a specific need for mobility," says Scheib, director of the information services department and chief information security officer at the hospital.     

But Scheib is one of a shrinking breed. As the price for a notebook computer with a late-model processor, 17-in. screen and large hard drive comes closer to that of comparably equipped desktops, notebooks are becoming the default choice for many companies. With a notebook and widely available wireless Internet access, employees can work full time from home (reducing the need for expensive office space), work more hours for the same pay or keep working when a disaster makes it impossible to reach the office.

While worldwide PC shipments are expected to grow 12.2% this year, portable PC volumes are expected to grow 28%, according to industry analyst firm International Data Corp. (IDC). Bob O'Donnell, IDC's program vice president for clients and displays, predicts that notebooks will make up more than half of all PC shipments in the U.S. by the third quarter of this year, and he expects the cross-over to notebooks to happen worldwide in 2010. Notebooks began outselling desktops in the fourth quarter of last year in Western Europe, he says, and have outsold desktops in Japan for years, he says.

O'Donnell expects "portable PC shipments to maintain double digit growth rates for the next few years as demand for mobility continues to shift new buyers from desktops to notebooks."

Notebooks Overtaking Desktops
Millions of Units Shipped in the U.S.
  2005 2006 2007 2008 2009
Desktops/ X86 Servers 42.3 39.4 38.1 34.8 32.0
Portables 26.1 26.1 31.9 37.3 42.3

Source: International Data Corp.


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