Among the larger firms (501 ~ 999 employees), 89 percent plan to purchase new tablets, which is up 8 percent from the second quarter of 2011, and 95 percent are planning to increase or maintain their spending levels. On average, the larger firms plan to spend nearly $39,000 on tablet hardware.
Smaller businesses, while also recognizing the importance of the tablet market, don't plan on purchasing or investing as much as the larger firms. Over the next 12 months, 54 percent of firms with fewer than 50 employees plan on new tablet purchases with 89 percent expecting to increase or maintain spending. That investment, however, is a mere fraction of what the larger firms plan to spend. On average, businesses with fewer than 50 employees plan to spend less than $2,000 on new tablets in the next 12 months.
While NPD's research highlighted the increased interest firms with fewer than 1000 employees have in acquiring tablets for their employees, this by no means equates to the death of the PC market. The combination, however, of the length of time since the Windows 7 launch, the need to spend on higher cost infrastructure, and the increased spending on tablets has clearly put a crimp on PC spending intentions, especially among the largest firms.
In Q3, smaller firms (fewer than 50 employees) reported that they expect to increase spending on PCs (36 percent) over the next 12 months, while only 23 percent of the largest firms (501-999 employees) anticipated spending additional sums. Of course given the difference in spending the actual dollar intentions are quite dramatic. For the 501-999 segment the expected spend over the coming year was almost $75,000, which would equate to replacing around 10-15 percent of the company's installed base and for the smallest company, their $3,400 would also fund an upgrade for about 10-15 percent of the firms PCs.
In general, however, spending expectations have really been mostly choices about spending more or spending the same, as very few firms are making the choice to spend less. Less than 20 percent of firms under 999 employees expect to spend less on PCs over that twelve month period. And only about one-in-10 large firms indicated that they anticipated spending nothing on PCs, while nearly half of the fewer than 50 employee companies expressed intent to cut all PC spending in the coming year.
"While the market speculation spins about the decline in the PC market it remains apparent that someone forgot to tell the customers," said Stephen Baker, Vice President, Industry Analysis NPD. "Spending continues on PCs, and on tablets, and few companies, even the smallest ones, are significantly reallocating their spending away from the personal computing needs of their employees. As we head into 2012 the SMB market continues to provide an important source of volume and dollars to PC market."