re: PC Market Hasn't Hit Rock Bottom Yet
Thank for the comment, jabberwolf. I appreciate you playing devil's advocate, but could you cite the sources for your data? I don't think the sales figures you offered were correct.
HP's stock is way up this year, but the company spent most of last year laying people off and reshuffling its divisions, actions that drove the stock down. HP's PC sales - according to their own earnings, not analyst estimates - have neither "climbed" nor led to the Wall Street gains.
Similarly, Dell enjoyed a stock bounce earlier this year, but that had little to do with PCs; rather, investor interest increased due largely to Michael Dell's buyout proposal, and the possibility that higher prices would encourage better bids. The stock rally actually fell off a cliff as it became clear that the PC market's decline will continue for the foreseeable future. According to Dell's recent earnings, the company has made progress in its enterprise divisions but its PC business was a major reason for profit loss. Dell is diversifying but it's still very reliant on a weak PC market-- that's why the stock DROPPED, not why it briefly surged.
Microsoft, meanwhile, has enjoyed a stock resurgence IN SPITE of Windows 8, not because of it. When Microsoft most recently announced earnings, Windows revenue, once deferred income was removed, was essentially flat. That's not bad, considering how much grief the company received over Windows 8, but given that much of that revenue ostensibly came from Windows 7 migrations, it's not great news either. Wall Street has been more bullish on Microsoft lately, but that's not because of Windows; it's because of Azure, Office 365, and the other multi-billion dollar revenue streams that Redmond recently established.
Apple, meanwhile, is still worth more than just about any other two tech companies COMBINED. "Gone down" seems excessive. Investors probably overvalued Apple when its stock was above $700, but Apple's recent drops have only a little to do with corrective measures by shareholders; a lot of it also has to do with short-term hedges, and the general tendency for investors to hold any given stock for less and less time. Apple has actually weathered the rough PC market better than most PC makers (Lenovo being a notable exception), somewhat supporting Tim Cook's contention that iPads are cannibalizing PCs more than Macs. Apple might experience its first decline in iPad shipments this quarter, but that has a lot to do with refresh cycles and timing, not necessarily a lack of consumer enthusiasm. By the end of the year, Apple will still likely have sold more tablets and computers than it did last year. The tablet market will likely grow faster than Apple does, which will lead to market share losses-- but it's hard to characterize Apple as a company on the way down. And that doesn't even address the potential of new products. If the company scores with a new tech (wearable tech, TVs, whatever), the recent Apple criticisms will look downright myopic.
As for the Chromebook being a flop... well, I think it's been about as successful as could have hoped to be, given that Internet connections aren't ubiquitous enough to make such a cloud-tethered product a real contender. But it's an experiment that points toward the future, and eventually Chromebook-like technology will have a place. Anyhow, the success or failure of Chromebooks has little to do with how Google makes its money, or whether its main OS - Android - ends up, as analysts predict, installed on more machines than Windows by 2017.
Finally, as for a "little bit" of "downward sales," you might have a point. The economy certainly encouraged consumers to consider tablets last year, rather than costly new computers. But there's much more evidence to support a shift in preference toward tablets than to suggest consumers were simply waiting for financial conditions to improve. Indeed, there's evidence that the most affluent customers prefer Apple anyway. It's possible the PC slump won't end up being as severe as people expect, but the decline has been unprecedented in both scope and speed, so while PCs will continue to sell in great numbers, I don't think "little bit" does the phenomenon justice.