by Anton Shilov
07/12/2012 | 11:13 PM
With their shipments projected to surge 20% this year and beyond, all-in-one (AIO) PCs - which integrate microprocessor, memory, storage and other components into the same case as display - will help prop an ailing market for overall desktop PC systems, according to the IHS information and analytics provider IHS.
Shipments of AIO PC, such as Apple iMac, Dell XPS One and HP TouchSmart, are forecast to reach 16.4 million units this year, up a robust 20% from 13.7 million units last year. In comparison, worldwide growth of traditional desktop PC shipments in 2012 will amount to a dismal 0.2%, rising from approximately 132.0 million units to 132.3 million units.
“The AIO PC is especially appealing to consumers that have been waiting for a desktop-monitor combo that not only combines the strengths of a traditional desktop system but also offers a few more extras typical of the new versatile devices, such as a flexible form factor, a large screen size and touchscreen optical technology,” said Craig Stice, senior principal analyst for compute platforms at IHS.
The healthy pace of growth for AIO PCs will continue in the years to come. By 2016, shipments will hit an estimated 24.8 million units, equivalent to a five-year compound annual growth rate of nearly 13%. The fast-growing AIO space may, in fact, save the overall desktop segment -already battered by competing mobile devices and personal computers - from going into further decline, IHS iSuppli believes.
Apple was No. 1 last year in AIO shipments, with 28% share of the market, followed by Lenovo, Dell, HP and Sony. The largest original development manufacturer for AIO PCs was Quanta Computer of Taiwan, whose clients include Apple, Lenovo and HP. Pegatron and Wistron, also from Taiwan, were other important manufacturers of the machines.
AIO PCs come with large screen sizes, with 22" screens being the average, which provides great user experience while saving space. Many larger systems offer high-definition (HD) specifications, including HDMI inputs and outputs, options for stereo-3D, and high-end sound systems. Most AIO systems also employ optical technology with sensors within raised bezel edges that will track touch in a typically two-touch or point-and-touch screen. A more tablet-like experience with multitouch or swipe capabilities could likewise be possible when Microsoft launches its new Windows 8 operating system later this year.
Pricing for AIO systems is now comparable to standard desktops - anywhere from less than $500 for a modestly packed system with a 20" screen, up to nearly $2000 for a fully loaded high-end system with up to 27" screen.
Still, AIO systems have their drawbacks. The PCs cannot be customized with additional or upgraded hardware as easily because of the more enclosed environment and space constraints within the system, and the all-in-one form factor that makes them unique also makes the machines hard to repair. As a result, their product life cycle is shorter than that of the traditional desktop PC, and the total cost of ownership also comes out higher.