Techaisle Blog

Insightful research, flexible data, and deep analysis by a global SMB IT Market Research and Industry Analyst organization dedicated to tracking the Future of SMBs and Channels.

US SMB PC purchases – 10 key trends

IT markets tend to be complex and fast-moving – but even by IT industry standards, the endpoint device market in 2017 is extremely complex, and subject to significant and abrupt changes, as shown in Techaisle’s US SMB & Midmarket PC Purchase trends survey. The acceptance of multiple screens, coupled with the availability of new platform technologies, has created a market where “endpoint devices” span a wide range of device categories: desktop PCs, notebook PCs, tablets and smartphones, as well as thin clients, All-in-Ones, and other device types. Consider the following trends – some of which have played out over several years, and some of which are scant months old – and how they might affect buyers and suppliers of client technology this year:

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Dell XPS 13 – Straight from the heart

Since the last 3 years I have been listening to Jeff Clarke, Dell’s vice-chairman of Operations and president of Client Solutions, and his team talk about innovation within Dell and how XPS-13, Dell’s flagship, initially consumer-focused and now business-ready notebook, is one of the most innovative laptops in the market. I must confess that after every meeting I walked away with a bit of cynicism. Every single time I had questions but no answers. Did a borderless InfinityEdge display define innovation? Did premium materials explain innovation? Did high-performance describe innovation? What about the issues that small businesses really cared about – improve productivity, provide security, easy manageability, exceptional support and low price? These would certainly count towards innovation. But then many of these improvements are usually driven by underlying software and not the hardware.

I have been a ThinkPad user for most of my working life – from my IDC days in Hong Kong to present time at Techaisle. Except for the time period when I was at Gartner. I am not a case of old-habits-die-hard but I have had a genuine admiration for the IBM & now Lenovo ThinkPad series. It never needed any support, except for that one occasion when I foolishly crushed it that cracked the screen. There was also a period as an analyst when I maintained three different brands. HP notebooks to bring to meetings with HP, IBM/Lenovo for their respective meetings, and Dell for meetings with Dell. However, I realized that a ThinkPad brand was one of the most non-controversial notebook to bring to meetings & presentations without evoking any sarcastic banter.

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Survey shows US Small businesses forecast to purchase 11m PCs in 2017

Techaisle’s US SMB survey data shows that 44% of US small businesses are planning to purchase at least one PC in 2017. If all keep to their PC purchase plan, then US small businesses will likely purchase 11.1 million PCs in 2017. However, if the US economy falters and small businesses feel unexpected growth pressures then the number may fall to 7.1 million PCs. The most likely US small business PC purchase scenario for 2017 is 8.4 million units.

The plan to purchase penetration is massively up from 34% in 2015 when only 2.6 million PCs were purchased by small businesses. The 2016 actual PC purchase data is still being analyzed by Techaisle.

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The Great Recession, Consumerization, and the birth of BYOD trend, more so in SMBs

The ‘bring your own device’ (BYOD) trend has its roots in two significant events that challenged corporate IT behavior. The first was the “Great Recession” of 2008-2009. The recession affected the entire economy, and IT was not spared its shadow. One key result of the recession was the interruption of regular refresh cycles. Prior to the recession, many businesses replaced endpoint devices (then, almost exclusively PCs) on a regular cycle – e.g., one third of devices would be refreshed every year, and the devices themselves would be used for three years, dividing the capital cost of keeping endpoint technology up-to-date across multiple annual budgets. The cash crunch that hit most businesses in the recession prompted many to forego refresh cycles, replacing individual units only when they failed. This approach did conserve scarce resources during the downturn, but when stability returned to the economy, CIOs realized that a large proportion of corporate endpoints were due for replacement – and CFOs realized that they lacked the CAPEX funds needed to refresh the entire endpoint fleet.

At the same time, another trend – Consumerization – was sweeping through the IT industry.

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