PC Shipments to Decline Through 2009

PC shipments will through 2009, according to analyst group, IDC. The group estimates that for the full year, numbers will be down 4.5 percent versus 2008, with a whopping 8 percent decline in just the first half of 2009. To which I say, it's about time.

The PC hardware upgrade cycle has always frustrated me. Yes, new software often drives the requirement for new hardware. That relationship was clear in the beginning of the decade, with every PC transitioning to a video-editing, media-capable system. Games have always driven hardware upgrades. As graphics and AI get more realistic, games naturally demand more computing power.

But for business use, hardware upgrades often superfluous. Will I need a new system to run the next version of Office? If so, why? Is the spell checker going to add so many new abilities that it'll justify new hardware?

This forced hardware lifespan extension is a silver lining to economic instability. Business should , adding RAM, hard drives, and other updates instead of blindly replacing systems. And you can even use an old PC in other, less-demanding ways; as a Linux server.

Hopefully hardware companies will react to declining sales. IDC says the is expanding, projecting twice as many sales this year as last. These light laptops are appealing because they handle basic tasks--email, web, productivity software--on a budget. That might be all your business needs.

Software companies are critical to extend the hardware life-cycle. They need to keep lowering requirements to hit more systems. Even , ever-conscious of driving hardware growth for its partners, might begin releasing less demanding software. Hopefully is a beginning step.