The PC sweet spot: Friction-free computing could become the standard

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Published: November 19, 2019 3:08:42 AM

Asus, showcased a bunch of new laptops and gaming computers powered by AMD’s Ryzen processors. What caught my attention was the fact that even the entry-level devices from the company were thin and not the spine-breakers we are used to seeing in the sub- Rs 30,000 segment.  

laptop, desktop, pc, processor, ASUS India, IDC, ASUS Asus, showcased a bunch of new laptops and gaming computers powered by AMD’s Ryzen processors.

A lot of people in my young team are constantly complaining about their laptops being slow and underpowered. These are punctuated by shouts of frustration from across the newsroom as one desktop or the other refuses to indulge the person using it. Even as we have more computing now on a smartphone than most of the first satellites, companies have struggled to make the basic computing experience pain-free. Of course, PCs can be very capable, provided you are paying for it.

But last week, I saw something that has me thinking that this could finally be changing. I finally got the feeling that laptop design, processing power and pricing might be hitting a sweet spot where friction-free computing could actually become the standard and no more a premium experience.

Asus, showcased a bunch of new laptops and gaming computers powered by AMD’s Ryzen processors. What caught my attention was the fact that even the entry-level devices from the company were thin and not the spine-breakers we are used to seeing in the sub- Rs 30,000 segment.

There is more to this trend. It is becoming increasingly hard to convince millennials to use heavy laptops that slow up as you try and do more with it. Unless they are pushed by their places of work, these devices are not preferred by the younger users who have been spoilt by fast smartphones, where everything pretty much happens with a single tap.  Jaipal Singh of IDC India explains that as consumers shift entertainment and content consumption to smartphones, PCs are becoming a “conscious purchase in India”. So, he says, “consumers are comfortable to wait for discounts and offers while looking to buy or upgrade their PCs.”

This also means the customers need more choice so that they get to pick exactly what they want. AMD India’s managing director of sales, Vinay Sinha, says the way the Indian market is evolving, the young millennials, who are very pronounced in their technology preferences, love this choice.  This, he says, is where AMD “has a clear process technology leadership over competition” by “taking a leadership position with Asus in gaming and the thin category which is the fastest growing segment.”

The gaming context here is interesting. Asus is confident that a lot of mobile gamers are within months thinking of purchasing a gaming laptop. And, given that gaming laptops no longer cost half a year’s salary for them and don’t weigh like a tonne of bricks, some of these users are preferring to buy these devices for work also.

This need to take PUGB from the mobile to a larger screen might be the reason why gaming devices are recording unprecedented growth in India. Arnold Su, Business Head, PC, Gaming & Commercial Products, ASUS India says the numbers of gaming laptop shipments have gone up 250,000 from just 40,000 two year ago. “Worldwide, these numbers grow maybe 5% year over year, but in India it doubles every year,” he explains. And, this jump is one of the reasons why Asus has grown over 43% compared to last years and clocked its best numbers ever in India.

The availability of slim laptops that are powerful and affordable along with the rise in popularity of gaming devices might help push growth in the PC segment even more. After a long period of flat growth, the PC market in India finally saw some revival in Q3 2019, up 15.8% compared to the year before. Three millions units were shipped, thanks in part to at least one big institutional purchase. But companies are also preparing for the end of support for Windows 7 by upgrading to newer devices. And this is where the millennial crowd might end up dictating the kind of devices that get purchased. So could we see thin devices add to the weight of the laptop segment?

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