HP, Staples, Dell signal a weak Windows 8 PC market

HP and Staples had nothing good to say about PC sales, portending an austere market for Windows 8-based personal computers.

Brooke Crothers Former CNET contributor
Brooke Crothers writes about mobile computer systems, including laptops, tablets, smartphones: how they define the computing experience and the hardware that makes them tick. He has served as an editor at large at CNET News and a contributing reporter to The New York Times' Bits and Technology sections. His interest in things small began when living in Tokyo in a very small apartment for a very long time.
Brooke Crothers
2 min read
HP Envy laptop: Don't expect Windows 8 PC sales to take off, seems to be the message from HP, Dell, and Staples.
HP Envy laptop: Don't expect Windows 8 PC sales to take off, seems to be the message from HP, Dell, and Staples. Hewlett-Packard

Staples, Hewlett-Packard, and Dell are not offering a lot of hope for the likelihood of rising sales of traditional PCs running Windows 8.

While Dell delivered its bad news for the PC market last week, Hewlett-Packard and Staples are chiming in this week.

After HP reported a dip in revenues on Wednesday, its chief executive, Meg Whitman, and chief financial officer, Cathy Lesjak, had practically nothing positive to say about the prospects for PC sales.

"In our personal systems business, we are seeing continued PC market contraction as HP revenue declined 11 percent over the prior year," Whitman said.

She added, 'the PC market has not stabilized as much as I had anticipated it would. That stabilization is yet to occur."

And the future? "We expect consumer demand weakness in the PC industry will likely continue to impact personal systems," Lesjak said.

These statements come after Dell posted a profit drop of 72 percent year-to-year last week, due, in part, to slumping PC sales. In a statement at that time, Dell said that its mobile PCs are being "pressured by customers diverting spending to alternative mobile solutions."

Staples executives, however, had some of the bleakest commentary on the fate of the Windows 8 PC market -- considering that most of the PCs Staples sells run Windows 8.

"Tablets are going to be...bigger than computers are soon," said Ronald Sargent, chairman and CEO, on Wednesday. Many of those tablets run the Android operating system.

Demos Parneros, president of North American Stores and Online, also made some scary statements about the need to "eliminate and reduce...dying or weak categories and then replacing that with things like mobile phones."

Microsoft, for its part, said back in July during its fiscal fourth quarter earnings conference call that "with Windows 8, we increased our addressable market. Our [PC] partners have started capitalizing on the new opportunities delivering a wide range of new Windows hardware, from phones to tablets to new PCs."

In other words, Microsoft has hopes to grow Windows 8 sales beyond traditional PCs.