The Tech News Blog

December 3, 2013

PC Shipments Suffer ‘Severe’ Dip in 2013

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This is not exactly the happiest time of the year for PC makers, who continue to watch global shipment volumes drop as fast as the winter temperatures.

According to new data from IDC, worldwide computer sales are expected to decline more than 10 percent by the end of 2013 — the most severe yearly contraction on record.

So, while many folks may unwrap a new tablet or find a smartphone hidden in their stocking this year, it's much less likely anyone will be hooking up a new desktop or laptop computer.

"Perhaps the chief concern for future PC demand is a lack of reasons to replace an older system," Jay Chou, senior research analyst at IDC, said in a statement.

The firm's research reveals that the personal computer remains a primary device, used for more hours per day than tablets and phones, but as more devices saturate the mobile market, clunky PCs continue to be tossed aside.

"And despite industry efforts, PC usage has not moved significantly beyond consumption and productivity tasks to differentiate PCs from other devices," Chou said. "As a result, PC lifespans continue to increase, thereby limiting market growth."

May 23, 2013

HP Unleashes Affordable, Powerful Desktops

HP ENVY 700 Desktop

HP today unveiled a new series of desktop PCs, including a budget desktop, higher-end gaming towers, and all-in-one PCs. The Bay Area-based company hits all the major price points, with the new models retailing from $289 to $1,099.

The HP Pavilion TouchSmart All-in-One PCs, namely the HP TouchSmart 20 and HP TouchSmart 23, offer a five-point optical touch screen. The widescreen, LED backlit display on both models is attached to a thin easel stand that can adjust from 10 to 25 degrees. The systems can be configured with either an AMD or 4th generation Intel processor, and up to 2TB of storage. In addition to HP's suite of apps, there's also 25GB of free Box cloud storage in the U.S. The HP Pavilion TouchSmart 20 All-in-One will be available June 23 for $619.99, while the 23-inch version comes out June 5 with prices starting at $749.

Those on a tight budget may want to take a gander at the the HP 110, which is targeted toward users who need a computer for daily tasks like email and social networking. It also includes the option of AMD or Intel processors and up to 2TB of of internal hard disk drive storage. There's up to 8GB of DDR3 RAM, a built-in 6-in-1 media card reader, and an optional, integrated optical drive. This desktop is out June 5, and pricing starts at a low $289.

May 22, 2013

HP Posts Losing Quarter as Struggles Continue

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Hewlett-Packard's struggle to turn things around continued in the second quarter as the computing giant reported double-digit year-over-year declines in revenue and net income. But CEO Meg Whitman on Wednesday promised that better times were around the corner.

HP reported second-quarter sales of $27.6 billion, down 10 percent from the second quarter of 2012, and profits of $1.1 billion, a 32 percent decline from the year-ago period. Earnings per share (EPS) of $0.55 was also down 31 percent, but in the second quarter, HP did return $1.1 billion in cash to shareholders in the form of dividends and share repurchases, the company said.

"After returning more than a billion dollars to shareholders through share repurchases and dividends in the quarter, we improved our operating company net debt position for the fifth successive quarter. By the end of fiscal 2013, we expect our operating company net debt to be below pre-Autonomy levels and approaching our goal of approximately zero," Whitman said in a statement, referring to HP's 2011 acquisition of enterprise software developer Autonomy and the $8.8 billion impairment charge the company was hit with over that deal.

Whitman shot from the hip during an earnings call Wednesday afternoon, telling investors and analysts that there were "no excuses" for HP's recent performance and execution.

"We need to a better job in transitioning from the technologies that worked in the past to the technologies which will work in the future. There are no excuses. We simply have to perform better," she said.

April 11, 2013

IDC: PC Shipments Plummet in First Quarter

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Global PC shipments suffered their steepest year-over-year decline since IDC began tracking the PC market's quarterly performance in 1994, the research firm reported Wednesday.

PC makers shipped 76.3 million units in the first three months of the year, a 13.9 percent decline from the same period in 2012, IDC reported. The research firm had anticipated a major year-over-year drop-off in PC shipments but reality far surpassed IDC's pre-quarter forecast for a 7.7 percent decline.

Analysts were mixed about the primary cause for the sluggishness of the PC market, with some pointing to the disappointing performance of Microsoft's new Windows 8 operating system as a main culprit. "At this point, unfortunately, it seems clear that the Windows 8 launch not only failed to provide a positive boost to the PC market, but appears to have slowed the market," IDC analyst Bob O'Donnell said.

"While some consumers appreciate the new form factors and touch capabilities of Windows 8, the radical changes to the UI, removal of the familiar Start button, and the costs associated with touch have made PCs a less attractive alternative to dedicated tablets and other competitive devices. Microsoft will have to make some very tough decisions moving forward if it wants to help reinvigorate the PC market."

Patrick Moorhead, principal analyst at Moor Insights & Strategy, said other factors were more important to the decline in PC shipments.

"While the lackluster consumer reception of Windows 8 impacted Q1 sales, it isn't the primary reason for the slowdown. The slow economy, particularly in emerging regions, is the primary culprit," Moorhead told PCMag.

April 4, 2013

Shift From PCs to Tablets in Full Swing

The 10 Best Tablets

Worldwide shipments of PCs, tablets, and mobile phones are expected to total 2.4 billion units in 2013, a 9 percent increase from last year, according to new data from Gartner.

Shipments of these devices are forecast to grow even further by 2017 to reach more than 2.9 billion units. But over the next few years, the mix of these devices will "significantly change," as consumers increasingly choose tablets over PCs, the research firm said.

The traditional PC market of desktops and laptops is expected to decline 7.6 percent to 315 million units in 2013, and continue dropping over the next four years as the tablet market grows. Worldwide tablet shipments are predicted to total 197 million units this year, a 69.8 percent increase from 2012 shipments of 116 million units.

"While there will be some individuals who retain both a personal PC and a tablet, especially those who use either or both for work and play, most will be satisfied with the experience they get from a tablet as their main computing device," Carolina Milanesi, research vice president at Gartner, said in a statement. "As consumers shift their time away from their PC to tablets and smartphones, they will no longer see their PC as a device that they need to replace on a regular basis."

March 4, 2013

Apple iMac Shipping Times Drop to One to Three Days


Those who order a new Apple iMac can now expect its arrival within just one to three business days.

Estimated shipment times for the 21.5-inch and 27-inch models improved on Saturday from weeks to just one to three business days. Just last week, Apple's website listed the 21.5-inch model with an estimated ship date of two to three weeks, while the pricier, 27-inch model was said to take up to a month to ship.

Supplies of the two models have been limited since they launche late last year. Back in January, Apple CEO Tim Cook acknowledged that there were "significant constraints" that prevented Cupertino from getting its new desktops to everyone who wanted them. Overall, iMac sales were down 700,000 year over year in 2012.

"We believe our Mac sales would have been much higher absent those constraints," Cook said at the time.

Apple unveiled its new iMac lineup at its October iPad mini event, pricing the computers at $1,299 and $1,499 for the 21.5-inch or $1,799 and $1,999 for the 27-inch.

November 27, 2012

Apple to Start Shipping New iMacs Nov. 30


Apple today confirmed that its new iMac lineup will be available starting Nov. 30.

The 21.5-inch iMac will be on sale starting Friday via, Apple Stores, and Apple re-sellers. The 27-inch version will also be available for pre-order that day, but won't ship until next month.

At this point, the iMac site on still says "Coming soon."

Earlier this month, a French website reported that manufacturing problems would delay the launch of Apple's new iMacs until next year. 9to5Mac, however, said the devices were still on track to ship by year's end.

Apple unveiled the new iMacs at its October iPad mini event. The 21.5-inch iMac starts at $1,299, while the 27-inch will run you $1,799.

August 23, 2012

HP Reports Nearly $9B Loss in Q3

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Hewlett-Packard reported an $8.9 billion loss for its fiscal third quarter—easily the worst in the tech giant's 73-year history—and management warned that the company's struggles could persist into 2013.

"HP is still in the early stages of a multi-year turnaround, and we're making decent progress despite the headwinds. During the quarter we took important steps to focus on strategic priorities, manage costs, drive needed organizational change, and improve the balance sheet. We continue to deliver on what we say we will do," HP CEO Meg Whitman said in a statement on Wednesday.

HP reported revenue of $29.7 billion for its third quarter, down 5 percent from the $31.2 billion it pulled in during the same period in 2011, and a whopping EPS hit of $4.49 to investors. The company suffered sales declines in all of its core business units except Software, which saw revenue grow 18 percent, albeit unorganically—HP's $10 billion deal for Autonomy, completed last October, contributed significantly to that growth.

The Silicon Valley computing giant, in the midst of restructuring and downsizing initiatives designed to adjust to a faster-paced, more mobile technology landscape, had warned investors earlier in August that it would be taking an $8 billion charge associated with its 2008 acquisition of Electronic Data Systems (EDS). HP bought the IT services firm founded by Ross Perot for $13 billion under then-CEO Mark Hurd, who resigned in 2010 in the wake of a scandal involving fudged expense reports and allegations of sexual harassment by an HP marketing contractor.

Whitman, who succeeded the ineffectual Leo Apotheker as president and CEO last September, has vowed to turn HP around but has consistently warned that the process could take years. The former eBay boss and one-time California gubernatorial candidate inherited a company bloated by a decade-long spending spree under Carly Fiorina and Hurd, with Apotheker rounding out HP's era of big-ticket acquisitions with the Autonomy deal.

In 2001, Fiorina merged HP with Compaq in a much-criticized deal that eventually made HP the biggest PC maker in the world. Hurd, seeking to take on rivals like IBM and Cisco with a complete portfolio of business IT products and services, brokered the deal for EDS in 2008, bought 3Com for $2.7 billion in 2009, and acquired Palm for $1.2 billion in 2010. Last year's spectacular failure of HP's first consumer tablet running Palm's webOS mobile software means the first and last of those deals have now contributed directly to some of the most embarrassing episodes in HP's storied history.

HP's ongoing downsizing initiative also contributed to the record loss. In May, the company announced plans to lay off approximately 27,000 employees, or 8 percent of its workforce, as part of a multi-year restructuring plan that will extend to the end of 2014.

Though the EDS write-down represented most of HP's quarterly loss, severance payments for the first wave of pink slip recipients helped push it to nearly $9 billion, according to the Associated Press.

HP has said that the layoffs and other restructuring initiatives would generate annualized savings of $3-$3.5 billion by the end of 2014.

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April 5, 2012

Report: HP Shakes Up Leadership in R&D Division

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Hewlett-Packard chief executive Meg Whitman has promised the company will double down on research and development as HP plots a course out of a rut that's seen HP shares lose more than 40 percent of their value in the past year, but the company will have to do it without its current head of R&D, Prith Banerjee, according to All Things D.

Banerjee, head of HP Labs for the past five years, is leaving the company on April 15, All Things D reported Wednesday, based on an internal HP memo that the tech site said it had obtained. The top R&D executive, a senior vice president at HP, is leaving the computing giant for a position outside the U.S. and will be replaced by Chandrakant Patel on an interim basis, according to All Things D.

Patel has been with the company for 25 years, is an HP Senior Fellow, and the director of the company's Sustainable Ecosystems Research Group.

Whitman took over leadership of HP last year following the ouster of Léo Apotheker, himself an emergency replacement for ex-CEO Mark Hurd, who left the company in the aftermath of a scandal over allegations of impropriety involving a female HP contractor and allegedly fudged expense reports.

March 21, 2012

Microsoft’s Marketing Unit Bans Company-Expensed Macs, iPads

It appears there is a trace amount of dog food going uneaten at Microsoft. The software giant is banning all purchases of Macs and iPads by its marketing and sales organization, according to an internal email seen by ZDNet's Mary Jo Foley.

The email that purportedly comes from Alain Crozier, chief financial officer of Microsoft's Sales, Marketing, Services, IT, & Operations Group (SMSG), suggests that corporate purchases of Apple's computers and tablets are already pretty low in the business unit, but that Microsoft is taking the further step of "turning off the Apple products from the Zones Catalog next week, which is the standard purchasing mechanism for these products" in the United States.

The relevant SMSG folks based outside of the U.S. will receive assistance from the home office to "put the right processes in place" to get rid of future Mac and iPad purchases, the email goes on to say.

If the order is legit, it wouldn't be the first time Microsoft has nixed outside vendor products from its procurement catalog and/or list of products that employees are allowed to expense. As Foley noted Tuesday, "[i]t has been Microsoft's policy for years—dating back to Windows Mobile in 2009 —that iPhones, BlackBerrys, and Palm devices (and their respective data plans) cannot be expensed."