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Lenovo Return To Profit, Despite Losses In Mobile Business

May 26, 2017 by  
Filed under Computing

China’s Lenovo Group Ltd, the world’s largest personal computer (PC) manufacturer, has returned to profitability, but said rising component prices may put pressure on its bottom line this year as supply shortages extend to batteries.

Profit reached $535 million in the year to March on revenue that fell 4 percent, just missing analyst estimates. The news sent Lenovo shares up as much as 6 percent in Hong Kong trade.

The result comes as Lenovo navigates a PC market that has shrunk markedly since the advent of tablet computers. According to researcher Gartner, global PC shipments fell for the 10th consecutive quarter in January-March, dipping below 63 million units for the first time since 2007.

Lenovo’s annual shipments fell 1 percent versus a market decline of 3 percent, with its share rising 0.4 percentage point to a record 21.4 percent. Revenue in its PC and smart devices unit – which makes up 70 percent of the total – fell 2 percent.

The company blamed the declines on transition in its smartphone and data center businesses, as well as on a difficult macro environment and component supply constraints.

Memory shortage is likely to continue this year, particularly solid-state drives (SSD), pushing up parts costs, said Corporate President and Chief Executive Officer Gianfranco Lanci at an earnings briefing.

“We are starting to see shortage in batteries,” Lanci added. “That is mainly because of cars consuming many more batteries than before.”

Lanci said it could take a year for battery suppliers to catch up with demand and for prices to normalize, having risen by a single digit percent so far this year.

Lenovo’s mobile business, which accounts for 18 percent of revenue, booked a loss which widened somewhat to $566 million, though the firm said it was enjoying strong growth in Latin America and Western Europe.

Qualcomm Previews Wireless Charging For Electric Vehicles

May 19, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Qualcomm Inc revealed that it had demonstrated how electric vehicles could be charged wirelessly while driving, a technology some believe will help accelerate the adoption of self-driving cars.

The smartphone chipmaker said a so-called “dynamic charging” test took place on a test track in Versailles, France. It used two Renault Kangoo vehicles driving over embedded pads in the road that transferred a charge to the cars’ batteries at up to 20 kilowatts at highway speeds.

Experts believe that self-driving cars of tomorrow will be electric and require a way to charge themselves without human intervention.

Wireless charging is an important area of research for carmakers, their suppliers and start-ups like xChargepoint, WiTricity and HEVO Power.

Qualcomm, which supplies chips to Android phone makers and Apple Inc, is on track to become the leading supplier to the fast-growing automotive chips market given its pending $38 billion takeover of NXP Semiconductors.

European Union regulators are to rule by June 9 on the deal, which would be the semiconductor industry’s biggest to date.

Electric vehicle charging is one area where Qualcomm could grow as it strives to reduce its dependence on a cooling smartphone market.

Qualcomm Chief Executive Steven Mollenkopf has called automotive technology and Internet of Things – in which household objects like cars and refrigerators communicate – a “tremendous opportunity” for the company.

Tesla’s SolarCity To Curtail Door-to-door Sales

May 1, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Tesla Inc announced that its subsidiary SolarCity will curtail door-to-door sales of rooftop solar installations over the next month as Tesla seeks to absorb the company into its high-end brand.

The move comes at a time when growth in sales of residential solar systems has slowed in key states, including California, where Tesla is based. Industry watchers say consumers in more mature solar markets have tired of the industry’s aggressive sales tactics.

“We believe this decision reflects what most of our prospective customers prefer, and will result in a better experience for them,” a Tesla spokesperson said in an emailed statement.

Tesla has built its luxury electric car brand on exclusivity, whereas SolarCity marketed its systems to a wide range of consumers mainly by promising cost savings.

As a result, the move marks a major shift for SolarCity, which before its acquisition by Tesla had become the nation’s top solar installer by amassing a legion of sales representatives in solar-friendly states across the country. Though most sales are generated through customer referrals, door-to-door sales became a significant means of reaching new customers over the last three years.

Most affected employees will be reassigned to other sales channels or given the opportunity to interview for other positions, Tesla said. About 1,000 people work in door-to-door sales for the company.

The company said it plans to expand its retail and online sales of solar systems, including in Tesla stores. It will also continue selling systems through long-standing partnerships with retailers, including Home Depot and Best Buy Co Inc.

“We expect the growth of these channels to end up more than offsetting the loss of door-to-door sales,” Tesla said.

Tesla, which completed its acquisition of SolarCity in November, has repeatedly said that it would prioritize preserving cash over increasing sales of solar systems. It has also said that it would reduce the cost of acquiring new customers, a metric that has remained stubbornly high across the highly competitive industry.

In keeping with its move toward more distinctive solar offerings, Tesla has said it plans to roll out a line of solar roof tiles later this year. The solar-powered roof shingles were unveiled last October to showcase the benefits of combining Elon Musk’s electric car maker with the solar installer.

Is Apple Having Problem With The Forthcoming iPhone 8?

April 25, 2017 by  
Filed under Mobile

According to Cowen and Company analyst Timothy Arcuri Apple company is struggling with low production yields on the revolutionary edge-to-edge display rumoured for the Apple iPhone 8.

He thinks that this will mean that the outfit will have to dump the embedded the Touch ID fingerprint scanner technology, which until now has been housed within the physical button, beneath the glass display.

Arcuri believes Apple is looking at dropping the ambitious new technology for another less-exciting design for the iPhone 8.

Samsung is believed to have faced similar issues with the Galaxy S8, leaving it no choice but to relocate the fingerprint scanner to the back of the phone.

Arcuri believes Apple could follow suit and maroon the Touch ID scanner on the rear of the iPhone. He also thinks it is possible that Jobs’ Mob could drop its fingerprint sensor altogether, and rely solely on the face recognition technology believed to debut on the next iPhone.

However, this would be stupid as the technology is half-baked and not reliable enough to be the sole biometric security option included with the handset.

Apple could push-back the launch of the iPhone 8 until it can remedy the production problems and there are rumours that the next-generation iPhone will miss the company’s traditional September launch window.

Although there are all sorts of rumours put about by the Tame Apple Press, it is clear that the iPhone’s design has not been worked out yet and the next handset has yet to enter full-scale production.

Courtesy-Fud

Microsoft Touts New Power Saving Feature In Windows 10

April 21, 2017 by  
Filed under Computing

Microsoft is touting operating system-wide power efficiencies in a recent preview of Windows 10, claiming that the technology will reduce notebook battery consumption by 11% on laptops equipped with the newest processors.

The technology, temporarily tagged as “Power Throttling,” was enabled on all copies of Windows 10 Insider build 16176, which Microsoft released Friday. Insider is the beta program Microsoft runs for both enthusiasts and businesses. The latter rely on Insider to learn how the OS will change for the next feature upgrade, as well as for testing the upgrade prior to deploying the final code when it is shipped several months later.

“With ‘Power Throttling,’ when background work is running, Windows places the CPU in its most energy efficient operating modes — work gets done, but the minimal possible battery is spent on that work,” Bill Karagounis, director of program management for Insider, said in a post to a company blog.

The CPU throttling is triggered on an app-specific basis by a detection system Microsoft integrated with the OS, said Karagounis. Like other such technologies, Microsoft’s is meant to recognize foreground tasks — such as active apps — as well as persistent applications, like music streaming applications, then give them full access to the processor. Other apps, or even individual processes within an app, that are classified as “background,” are restricted in how they impact the CPU’s power usage. For instance, they may not be allowed to kick the processor into its higher-frequency, higher-power, higher-consumption mode.

Power Throttling works only on Intel processors with that firm’s Speed Shift, a feature of sixth-generation and later CPUs, including “Skylake” and the newer “Kaby Lake.”

Recognizing that most personal computers are laptops and that battery longevity is a major factor in productivity, Microsoft has aggressively promoted Windows 10’s power savings, notably in the boosterism behind Edge, the OS’s default browser.

The Redmond, Wash. company isn’t working in a vacuum: Other operating systems also try to eke out more battery life by scaling back CPU use. Apple’s iOS, for instance, switches to a low-power mode when an iPhone or iPad battery reaches about 20% capacity. Among other things, the iOS mode halts background app refreshing and stops automatic email fetching.

Microsoft first added Power Throttling to Windows 10 in January, saying that it had turned it on for a subset of Insider-equipped devices as an experiment and promising to provide an update in mid-February. That update never appeared, hinting that Microsoft pulled it from inclusion in the then-upcoming Creators Update, the feature upgrade released April 11.

The first opportunity most users will have to apply Power Throttling will be with 2017’s second feature upgrade. Microsoft has not revealed a release timetable, but most experts expect it to appear this fall.

Samsung Pleased As Galaxy S8 Pre-orders Surpass S7 Launch

April 14, 2017 by  
Filed under Mobile

Pre-orders for Samsung Electronics Co Ltd’s flagship Galaxy S8 smartphone have surpassed those of its predecessor S7, the firm’s mobile chief said on Thursday, which suggests many consumers are undeterred by last year’s Galaxy Note 7 fires.

Strong initial demand for the S8 will be encouraging for a firm recovering from one of the worst product safety failures in tech history, which ended in the Note 7’s swift withdrawal.

The new smartphone has received favorable reviews ahead of the start of sales in South Korea, the United States and Canada on April 21. Some investors and analysts have even predicted a first-year sales record for the South Korean company.

“It’s still a bit early, but initial response to the pre-orders that have begun at various places across the world have been better than expected,” mobile chief Koh Dong-jin said at an S8 media briefing.

He said the S8 will be the safest Galaxy smartphone to date due to measures implemented to avoid the battery failures that caused some Note 7s to spontaneously combust.

Analysts said strong S8 sales are likely to help Samsung to its best-ever quarterly profit in April-June, along with a booming memory chip market that is widely expected to deliver record revenue this year for the industry as a whole.

Samsung has been working to restore investor trust as well as its reputation since the Note 7’s withdrawal in October within two months of being on the market, losing out on $5.4 billion in profit.

Senior executives told foreign media on the sidelines of the briefing that it will take time for Samsung’s brand image to recover. They also said Samsung has seen a rebound in consumer sentiment toward the firm since announcing the results of a probe into the fires and preventative measures on Jan. 23.

PC, Mobile Device Prices Expected To Rise This Year

April 10, 2017 by  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

If you plan to purchase a new PC or mobile device this year, you’ll likely spend more cash than in previous years. Prices are trending upwards, and expensive devices are in demand.

On average, the price of PCs and phones will go up by 2 percent this year, Gartner said in a research report released on Thursday. The calculations are based on U.S. dollars and average market sizes.

Breaking down those numbers, PC prices are expected to go up 1.4 percent this year, while mobile phone prices will go up 4.3 percent.

The price increases are largely due to the rising prices of components. Also, more users are upgrading to more expensive and feature-rich mobile handsets.

The days of users preferring to buy the cheapest products are gone, said Ranjit Atwal, research director at Gartner.

Buyers are less price sensitive and are instead buying devices “that suit their lifestyles,” Atwal said.

Gartner’s forecast is in line with a projection in February by Lenovo’s chief operating officer, Gianfranco Lanci, who said PC prices would go up this year due to a shortage of DRAM, SSDs, batteries and LCDs.

The cost of components like NAND flash have doubled since June, Gartner said.

The overall cost of purchasing components is going up. Moreover, millennials are willing to spend more on devices.

This year is expected to be big for smartphones. Samsung launched the Galaxy S8 smartphones, and Apple is expected to launch its 10th anniversary iPhone later this year. Premium-priced smartphones will go up by roughly 4 percent, Gartner said.

Android phones will suffer the most from the price increases. In emerging markets like China and India, Android phones are popular because of their affordability, but prices are also going up in those countries.

High-end Android smartphones offer more differentiation on features than generic low-end phones, giving a reason for buyers to spend a bit more to upgrade.

A good barometer for mobile phone pricing is the Chinese market. Global pricing of Chinese-branded smartphones will go up to RMB 2,000 (US$290) by the end of this year from RMB 1,700 (US$246) at the end of last year, analyst firm Trendforce said last month. That’s partly because NAND flash supply is tightening.

According to Gartner, smartphone shipments worldwide this year will total 1.9 billion units, up from 1.89 billion last year.

The PC market has slowed and is being driven by high-priced gaming PCs and 2-in-1s. Buyers of those PCs are willing to spend more money on their computers.

That trend is changing the types of computers shipped by PC makers, which are focused on selling higher-priced products that can deliver larger profit margins.

Low-end laptops and desktops will remain available, but PC makers like Dell and HP are slimming down those offerings. Low-cost laptops like Chromebooks typically have aging components, little storage, low-resolution webcams and limited memory.

Gartner estimates 426 million computing devices, including PCs and tablets, will ship this year, dropping from 439 million last year. PC shipments will total 265 million this year, dropping from 270 million last year. Shipment of tablet devices like the iPad will total 161 million, dropping from 169 million last year, the analyst group predicted.

Hyundai To Develop Own Platform For Electric Vehicles

March 31, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

South Korea’s Hyundai Motor Co is developing its first dedicated architecture for electric vehicles, an executive told Reuters, seeking to match the success of Tesla in the growing segment with multiple, long-range models.

While the platform will not be completed soon, Hyundai Motor and affiliate Kia Motors Corp plan to roll out small electric sport utility vehicles (SUVs) based on an existing underpinning next year, said Lee Ki-sang, who leads Hyundai-Kia’s green cars operations.

The separate platform represents a major push into the battery electric-car segment for a firm which has long trumpeted rival fuel-cell vehicles, reflecting strong investor pressure to compete more vigorously in a market that has been stimulated by U.S.-based Tesla Inc’s longer-range models.

Industry executives also say tough fuel-economy and emissions regulations in the United States, Europe and China are compelling automakers to push fuel-efficient cars even though low oil prices have undercut demand.

Hyundai’s electric-car platform would allow the automaker to install a battery pack in vehicle floors to accommodate more battery capacity and maximize cabin space, Lee said.

“The electric-vehicle platform will require high up-front investments but we are doing this to prepare for the future,” he said at Hyundai-Kia’s green car research center in the city of Yongin, outside Seoul. He did not reveal the cost.

Lee, a senior vice-president at Hyundai Motor, was speaking during an interview on the eve of an auto show that kicked off in Seoul on Thursday.

Analysts said Hyundai had no choice but to join the likes of Tesla, General Motors Co and Daimler AG  unit Mercedes-Benz in building separate electric-vehicle platforms to be relevant in the segment.

“The separate platform may incur losses initially, but Hyundai will be left behind the market if they don’t offer long-distance models, like 300 km, 500 km and 600 km,” said Ko Tae-bong, an analyst at Hi Investment & Securities.

Hyundai Motor said in a statement on Thursday that it plans to launch a new luxury electric vehicle under its Genesis marque in 2021, after introducing a plug-in hybrid version of an unidentified Genesis model in 2019.

Return Of The Samsung Galaxy Note 7?

March 29, 2017 by  
Filed under Mobile

Tech giant Samsung Electronics Co Ltd has announced that it plans to offer refurbished versions of the Galaxy Note 7 smartphones, the model pulled from markets last year due to fire-prone batteries.

Samsung’s Note 7s were permanently scrapped in October following a global recall, roughly two months from the launch of the near-$900 devices, after some phones self-combusted. A subsequent probe found manufacturing problems in batteries supplied by two different companies – Samsung SDI Co Ltd and Amperex Technology Ltd.

Analysis from Samsung and independent researchers found no other problems in the Note 7 devices except the batteries, raising speculation that Samsung will recoup some of its losses by selling refurbished Note 7s.

A person familiar with the matter told Reuters in January that it was considering the possibility of selling refurbished versions of the device or reusing some parts.

Samsung’s announcement that revamped Note 7s will go back on sale, however, surprised some with the timing – just days before it launches its new S8 smartphone on Wednesday in the United States, its first new premium phone since the debacle last year.

Samsung, under huge pressure to turn its image around after the burning battery scandal, had previously not commented on its plans for recovered phones.

“Regarding the Galaxy Note 7 devices as refurbished phones or rental phones, applicability is dependent upon consultations with regulatory authorities and carriers as well as due consideration of local demand,” Samsung said in a statement.

South Korea’s Electronic Times newspaper, citing unnamed sources, said on Tuesday Samsung will start selling refurbished Note 7s in its home country in July or August and will aim to sell between 400,000 and 500,000 of the Note 7s using safe batteries.

Samsung said in a statement to Reuters the company has not set specifics on refurbished Note 7 sales plans, including what markets and when they would go on sale, though noting the phones will not be sold in India as some media reported earlier this year.

The firm said refurbished Note 7s will be equipped with new batteries that have gone through Samsung’s new battery safety measures.

“The objective of introducing refurbished devices is solely to reduce and minimize any environmental impact,” it said.

ZapGo Offers Safer Alternative To Lithium-ion Batteries

March 17, 2017 by  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

New non-flammable, quick-charging batteries unveiled by private startup ZapGo Ltd. could begin showing up in popular smartphones in the next two years.

ZapGo’s carbon-ion batteries promise to be a safe replacement for the billions of lithium-ion batteries already used in smartphones, electric scooters, vehicles and industrial devices. Lithium-ion batteries in several products, including the Samsung Galaxy Note7 smartphone, have been banned on many airline flights because they can overheat, catch fire and explode.

ZapGo, based in Oxford UK, showed off its Zap&Go Carbon-Ion cell at the Consumer Electronics Show in January.

The company has been successfully testing the battery technology to power autonomous shuttles used to transport passengers at Heathrow Airport, said ZapGo CEO Stephen Voller in an interview on Wednesday.

In addition, ZapGo showed at CES smaller versions of its batteries used to power an 18-volt handheld drill, a Razor E300 scooter and a cordless cleaner.

Voller said the first iterations of its carbon-ion battery cells will be ready to be used in the iPhone 10 or the Samsung Galaxy S10, expected in about two years. He said various smartphone makers he would not name have shown interest in using carbon-ion instead of lithium-ion, primarily for safety reasons.

“There’s no fire risk at all” with carbon-ion, Voller said. “There’s nothing flammable. Our mantra is [we’re] safer and faster-charging because the batteries are not lithium-based and have nothing inside that will burn.”

Lithium-ion batteries rely on an organic electrolyte that easily catches fire when there’s an electrical short of some kind, he explained. ZapGo instead uses nano-carbon materials, including graphene, as well an ionic electrolyte in its cells.

Apple Tied With Samsung For Top Smartphone Ranking

March 14, 2017 by  
Filed under Mobile

The iPhone 6 has sold so well that Apple caught up to and tied Samsung for the top position in the smartphone market in the fourth quarter, closing the gap with its South Korean competitor.

Both Apple and Samsung shipped 74.5 million smartphones during the period, each claiming close to 20 percent share of the market, research firm Strategy Analytics said Wednesday.

It’s a big change from a year ago, when Apple’s iPhone 5s only helped the company gain a 17.6 percent share of the market, as opposed to Samsung’s near 30 percent share.

The data from Strategy Analytics comes a few days after Apple reported huge profits of $18 billion made in last year’s fourth quarter, from record sales of its new smartphone.

“Demand for iPhone has been staggering, shattering our high expectation,” Apple CEO Tim Cook said in an earnings call.

He added that the smaller iPhone 6 was the better selling of the two models, but that some markets preferred the bigger iPhone 6 Plus. Although the U.S. still remains the company’s largest market, China was another major contributor to the phone’s sales in the quarter, with sales in the market up by over 100 percent year over year.

Samsung isn’t faring as well in the smartphone market. It is losing market share at the high-end to the iPhone 6, and at the mid-tier and low-end range to products from Chinese vendors Huawei and Xiaomi.

“Samsung may soon have to consider taking over rivals, such as Blackberry, in order to revitalize growth this year,” Strategy Analytics said in a statement. But for the whole year 2014, Samsung still remained the top smartphone vendor, with a 24.7 percent share, followed by Apple, which had a 15 percent share.

Trailing far behind the two players is third place Lenovo, which acquired Motorola Mobility from Google last year. By buying the U.S. handset maker, Lenovo’s market share in the fourth quarter reached 6.5 percent.

Huawei was in fourth place during the quarter, with a 6.3 percent share.

Overall, the world’s smartphone market grew 31 percent during the period, with shipments reaching a record 380.1 million units.

Is LG Preparing To Battle Samsung?

March 1, 2017 by  
Filed under Mobile

Samsung and LG are going pretty much head to head as they launch their flagship phones at roughly the same time

LG is going to introduce G6 in Barcelona, Spain on the 26 February and start selling on the 10 March. Presale for G6 will take place from the 2-9 March. Samsung is going to introduce the Galaxy S8 in New York on the 29 March and launch it on 21 April. Presale for Galaxy S8 has not been figured out yet.

LG gets 42 days march on Samsung and this is the first time when LG has beaten Samsung to the punch. It will be about 50 days earlier if  the presale schedule is included. However, they are more or less releasing at the same time, which means that a war is expected in a way not seen before.

Initially Samsung was going to launch the Galaxy S8 globally on the 21 April and domestically a week earlier. Its original plan was to have presale on the week of the 6th April and launch the Galaxy S8 in South Korea on the 14 April. To have stable supplies, it has modified its plan by having Galaxy S8 launch globally and domestically on the same day.

So it looks like both companies are competing against each other before they officially launch their premium smartphones.

Courtesy-Fud

Samsung Debuts Two New Tablets

February 28, 2017 by  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Samsung Electronics unveiled two new tablets, marking its first major announcement since being forced to cancel the flagship Galaxy Note 7 smartphone after some of the devices caught fire.

The Galaxy Tab S3 and the Galaxy Book were presented at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, in past years the scene of major Samsung launches. This year, Samsung has postponed the presentation of the Galaxy S8, its next key device.

Instead, it took the wraps off the Galaxy Tab S3 and the Galaxy Book, which comes in a 10.6-inch and a 12-inch version.

The Galaxy Book will run on Microsoft Windows 10. The Tab S3 will have speakers by Harman-owned AKG, Samsung’s first use of the brand since agreeing to buy Harman for $8 billion last year.

Samsung withdrew the Galaxy Note 7 last October after faulty batteries led some devices to catch fire, leading to a loss of consumer trust, wiping out $5.3 billion of operating profit, and allowing Apple’s iPhone to overtake it in sales.

Samsung’s smartphone market share dropped to 17.7 percent in the fourth quarter, while Apple’s rose to 17.8 percent, according to market research firm Strategy Analytics.

Samsung is expected to launch the S8 in April. In the meantime, dozens of device makers are launching new phones at Mobile World Congress, hoping to exploit the gap Samsung has left.

Tesla Plans Three More Gigafactories

February 27, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Tesla is making plans for a total of five Gigafactories, where it will manufacture solar panels and battery systems for both its electric vehicles and for home and commercial energy storage.

“Later this year, we expect to finalize locations for Gigafactories 3, 4 and possibly 5,” the company stated in a letter to shareholders.

Tesla has already begun installing Model 3 manufacturing equipment in its Fremont, Calif. plant and at Gigafactory 1 in Reno, Nev. It’s first Gigafactory is already producing battery cells for its energy storage products, the Powerwall 2 and Powerpack 2; they have the same form-factor as the cells that will be used in Model 3 sedan, the company said.

Tesla’s Gigafactory 2 is located in Buffalo, N.Y. and is expected to open in the second half of 2017, when it will begin production of solar panels and shingles.

Ahead of the launch of its Model 3 sedan later this year, Tesla is planning to re-engineer and expand its manufacturing operations as it anticipates a major uptick in sales of its most affordable all-electric car, it said. The news of the shareholder letter was first reported in The Verve.

This month, Tesla began building Model 3 prototypes; it plans to begin production of the sedan, which has a base price of $35,000, in mid-2017, the company said.

Tesla expects to produce about 5,000 EVs per week in the fourth quarter of 2017 and plans to increase that number to 10,000 per week in 2018.

“Initial crash test results have been positive, and all Model 3-related sourcing is on plan to support the start of production in July,” Tesla said in its letter. “Model 3 vehicle development, supply chain and manufacturing are on track to support volume deliveries in the second half of 2017.”

PC Pricing Continue To Rise, Highest Increase Since 2011

February 20, 2017 by  
Filed under Uncategorized

PC prices are headed upward due to a shortage of a number of components, and the situation isn’t expected to change in the coming quarters.

A shortage of DRAM, SSDs, batteries, and LCDs have conspired to drive up PC prices, Gianfranco Lanci, corporate president and chief operating officer at Lenovo, said during an earnings call last Thursday. It’s difficult to pin a number on the price increase because of the number of PC configurations available.

The cost of purchasing these components is going up, which is triggering PC prices to also rise, said Lanci, a PC industry veteran. The shortage of components like memory will continue, Lanci said.

As component supplies shrink, PC prices will rise, said Mikako Kitagawa, an analyst at Gartner. Moreover, PC makers are raising prices to squeeze more profits out of the shrinking PC market, Kitagawa said.

The PC buyer profile is also changing, with gamers and millennials willing to spend more money on PCs.

That’s changing the mix of laptops, desktops, and 2-in-1s being shipped by PC makers, who are focused on selling higher-priced products that can deliver better margins.

But low-cost PCs won’t go away, Kitagawa said. There will always be cheap laptops available, though those markets aren’t growing and not attractive to PC makers.

Basic configurations of PCs remain affordable, but some PC makers are limiting customization, forcing users to buy additional components in certain configurations.

 

A chart shown at an Intel investor conference last week showed PC selling prices reaching its highest since 2011, when a decline in PC shipments started.

Intel is also selling chips at higher prices, which is adding to PC costs. Intel PC chip prices went up by 7 percent in 2016, but the company also sold more Core i7 chips as sales of gaming and VR systems increased.

Analyst firm TrendForce predicted SSD prices would go up in the first quarter of this year, continuing a trend from the previous quarters. SSD adoption, as a replacement for hard drives, is growing, but the supply of NAND flash has tightened, which is driving up prices.

The price of DRAM is also going up because of shortages. Memory is a boom-or-bust market and extremely volatile with prices falling drastically when DRAM floods the market.

PC DRAM prices went up by 30 percent in the fourth quarter of 2016 compared to the third quarter, TrendForce said in a statement this week.

TrendForce is predicting that DRAM prices may increase by up to 40 percent in the first quarter, due to undersupply. The news isn’t any better looking forward.

“Rising prices are expected for the second quarter as well,” said Avril Wu, research director of DRAMeXchange, which is a part of TrendForce and tracks component pricing.

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