Arik Hesseldahl

Recent Posts by Arik Hesseldahl

Shares of PC Companies and Their Suppliers Whacked on Sales Decline

By all indications, it’s going to be a rough day on the stock market for any company exposed to the personal computer business.

Yesterday’s reports from the market research firms IDC and Gartner showed conclusively what pretty much anyone paying attention had already suspected — that the bottom has finally fallen out of the PC business. During the first quarter of 2013, the combined shipments showed their worst year-on-year decline ever.

Reversing that trend is probably not an option, which means that a fundamentally new chapter in the history of the personal computer industry is unequivocally here. Shareholders in those companies will start making value judgments accordingly. That was in evidence in the premarket trading this morning.

With a few minutes to go before the opening of markets in New York, shares of market leader Hewlett-Packard were down by nearly 6 percent. Dell, still the subject of an ongoing fight over its proposed $24.4 billion plan to go private in a leveraged buyout transaction, was down only slightly.

Chipmaker Intel was down nearly 3 percent. Advanced Micro Devices, Intel’s one remaining rival, was down 2.7 percent. Microsoft, the primary supplier of operating system software to the world’s PCs, was down 3.5 percent.

Apple, the maker of the iPad, which arguably has disrupted the PC industry, but is also North America’s third-largest supplier of PCs, was down by $2, or less than half of a percentage point.

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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik