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PC market is showing signs of stabilizing

A visitor tries out Microsoft Corp.'s Windows 10 operating system on the Surface 3 tablet device during a launch event in Tokyo, Japan.
Kiyoshi Ota | Bloomberg | Getty Images
A visitor tries out Microsoft Corp.'s Windows 10 operating system on the Surface 3 tablet device during a launch event in Tokyo, Japan.

After years of shrinking, the market for personal computers seems to be strengthening.

RBC's Amit Daryanani published a note Wednesday, arguing that recent data suggest some level of steadying. Specifically, Daryanani said that Seagate Technology, at the company's analyst meeting Wednesday, discussed firming PC demand.

Daryanani also heard similar comments from Avago Technologies and ASUS.

The market has been under real pressure. Worldwide shipments totaled 66.1 million units in the second quarter, according to research firm IDC. That represents a year-on-year decline of nearly 12 percent.

Some analysts argue that the PC market will not just stabilize, but actually receive a much-needed boost.

The bulls are pinning their hopes on Windows 10—Microsoft's new operating system—turning out to be a hit. There's also optimism about Intel's new Skylake chip, which is thinner, triples the battery life of a PC and is capable of starting in half a second.



Another feature: Users will be able to log in just by looking at a Skylake-powered PC in the eye, if they also have Intel's 3-D camera installed.

Patrick Moorhead of Moor Insights & Strategy, a tech analyst firm, thinks this new processor will give the PC market a lift. Users haven't upgraded their computers for years, he told CNBC, and they'll want to take advantage of all these new bells and whistles.

(Intel also said there are over 500 million computers in use today that are at least four to five years old).

Moorhead says to watch the fourth-quarter earnings reports of companies such as Hewlett-Packard and Lenovo for indications that PC demand, at least among consumers, is benefiting from Windows 10 and Skylake.

Other analysts are more cautious. Loren Loverde, IDC's PC analyst, estimates that PC units this year will total 281.6 million worldwide, a drop of nearly 9 percent from last year.

"It's not all bad news," Loverde said. "The market will stabilize next year. We do think that Windows 10 and Skylake will contribute to that by delivering new features. Those changes will make the PC more attractive and competitive."

However, Loverde also said real structural headwinds will continue to limit the growth in the PC industry.

"People are taking pictures and using social all on their mobile devices," he said. "That is a long-term shift that cuts in the PC."