Death of the PC Reports Are Exaggerated, but Perhaps Only Slightly

Carl Weinschenk

It’s Friday again, so it’s time to check out some of the important data and telecom news from the past week.

The Bottom Is Falling Out of the PC Market

It looks like the bottom is falling out of the PC market. Datamation reports that two important firms – IDC and Gartner – used different methodology to come to what in essence is that conclusion, though neither say it so plainly.

The Datamation story is a compilation of comments from other sources. It reports that IDC found that shipments declined 13.9 percent during the first quarter of 2013 compared to the year-ago quarter. That’s the biggest decline since IDC got into the PC counting game 20 years ago and twice what IDC expected, according to a paraphrase from The New York Times story, which also is paraphrased.

Gartner, meanwhile, said that shipments fell below 80 million units. That hadn’t happened since the second quarter of 2009, according to MercuryNews.com. However, the Gartner report has one positive detail: The MercuryNews piece shows strength in the business sector.

Driven by consumers’ ever-growing love of mobility, tablets and smartphones have overtaken PCs. That’s not news. What is startling is the extreme nature of the first quarter’s downturn. If these results are repeated in the second quarter, it would be safe to assume that the PC is on a faster path to marginalization than was previously suspected.

OpenDaylight Looks to Standardize SDNs

The concept of software-defined networks (SDNs) is both complex and simple at the same time. The simple element is the goal: Networks are large, sophisticated and complicated. They are getting more so as time marches on. Today, elements of those networks must be treated on a more or less individual basis. SDNs throw a software blanket over the whole kit and caboodle.

This has two advantages: It allows centralized administration and encourages inclusion of use of hardware and software from different vendors. It’s almost needless to say that the complex part -- from both technical and business perspectives -- is creating standards and procedures that actually allow this to happen.

This week, news hit that a number of important players – IBM, Cisco, HP, Juniper System and others – have joined in the OpenDaylight Project, an open source initiative. This is how NewsFactor reported the news:

OpenDaylight will be administered under the non-profit Linux Foundation, and the first open-source products are scheduled for release by third quarter. Products, resulting from corporate donations and OpenDaylight projects, are expected to include an open controller, a virtual overlay network, protocol plug-ins and switch device enhancements.


This is extremely complicated technology. That complexity, however, pales in comparison to the nuances of various players’ business agendas. SDNs may be the wave of the future, but there is much work to be done on several levels before these platforms are widely deployed.

Dire Reports on Z10 Sales Anger BlackBerry

Human nature seeks immediate answers. The introduction of the BlackBerry 10 in February was seen as the defining moment on the fate of the company. Several outcomes were seen as possible. But what was certain was that the die was cast on that day.

Two months later, that still is true. But what also must be acknowledged is that it takes time for the process to play out, and that there will be many ups and downs before the matter is settled. This week, for instance, CNET reports that two analysts’ reports found that the Z10 is faring poorly. The reports are from ITG research and Detwiler Fenton. The Fenton report said that in some cases returns are exceeding sales.

BlackBerry vehemently denies the return rate story and is threatening to take the matter up with regulators in the U.S. and Canada. It says that it has shipped 1 million Z10s, excluding U.S. sales that only began in March. It maintains that returns are running at the customary rate for such an introduction.

However, the acknowledgement of the existence of the report through its public repudiation of the report – which brings more attention to the fact that it was made in the first place – shows how seriously the matter is being taken by BlackBerry.

The next introduction, the Q10, has a physical keyboard and is thought likely to appeal to BlackBerry’s traditional customers. It is expected to be released as early as the end of the month, according to the CNET story.

Deutsche Telekom Reduces Debt in MetroPCS Offer

The merger of T-Mobile and MetroPCS became a lot more likely this week, according to GeekWire and other sources. The deal apparently is turning the corner because Deutsche Telekom, which is T-Mobile’s parent, reduced the amount of debt from $15 billion to $11.2 billion. That, according to the story, has led hedge fund Paulson & Co. to reverse course and back the deal.

Previously, the firm – MetroPCS’s largest shareholder – had been against a no vote because of the debt issue. The shareholder vote, delayed because of the new offer, now is scheduled for April 24.

Researcher: I Can Control a Plane with an Android Device

And, finally, there is something to add to the provocations from North Korea, global warming and the effects of the sequestration on the list of things to worry about: A security hacker claims that he can take command of a commercial airplane with an Android device.

Forbes reports that researcher Hugo Teso, who works for German security firm N.Runs, presented research at the recent Hack in the Box Conference this week in Amsterdam that he had cracked the Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System (ACARS) – the communications system between the ground and the plane -- and could take over navigation and other functions.

The story includes comments contesting that assertion by various vendors and safety organizations and Teso acknowledges that aircraft personnel could take control back. Clearly, however, Teso’s claims should be taken very seriously.



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