by Andy Patrizio
Looks like Steve Jobs was right once again. The all-in-one (AiO) PC design, embodied in the iMac but also done by a variety of PC makers, is on track to double-digit growth this year, a rare bright spot in an otherwise mediocre PC market.
IHS iSuppli Compute Platforms Service forecasts AiO PCs are forecast to reach 16.4 million units this year, up 20 percent from 13.7 million units last year. By comparison, worldwide growth of traditional desktop PC shipments in 2012 will be a pitiful 0.2 percent.
IHS expects not only healthy growth but momentum for AiOs. By 2016, shipments will reach an estimated 24.8 million units, which translates to a five-year compound annual growth rate of nearly 13 percent. IHS iSuppli thinks it will be the AiO segment that keeps PC sales from going into negative numbers over this time period.
The appeal of the AiO is that it spares people the headache of cabling that desktop PCs have to deal with. The monitor and computer are integrated, and the keyboard and mouse are wireless. One power plug handles everything. Plus, it takes up a lot less room.
“It seems to be a home PC replacement,” said Craig Stice, senior principal analyst for compute platforms at IHS. “Everyone over the last 10-15 years grew up with some kind of desktop. The attractiveness of an all-in-one is it?s a home-based desktop but not a huge clunky tower with cables everywhere we are all used to.”
AiO PCs come with fairly large screen sizes, with 22-inch screens being the average, and a number of outputs, including high end sound and HDMI ports for high definition TV. AiO systems have been around for a few years but were prohibitively expensive. While high end systems are still in the $2,000 range, some can be had for $500.
But they are closed systems that put a limit on customization. “At the same time, these things come with enough computing power they will give the average user enough computing power they will need and then some,” said Stice.
Apple was the number one AiO vendor, with 28 percent share of the market, followed by Lenovo, Dell, HP and Sony, and new Taiwan companies like Acer and Asus are coming to the market. “We’ve seen a good surge from Lenovo with all-in-ones, and behind them is Dell and HP. But Lenovo is the one to watch. They have a lot of strength in China,” said Stice.
The next big opportunity for AiO systems will be touch, but it will be a while, since touch screens in the 20 inch-plus range can run in the thousands of dollars. AiO coupled with Windows 8 will greatly benefit when large touch screens become mass market, said Stice.
“The standard desktop for Windows 8 is nice but that’s not the main attraction. The touch screen capabilities of Windows 8 are. Outside of laptops, the all-in-ones have a nice opportunity because it’s made for a touch screen. The challenge is getting touch into the screen that size,” he said.