Let’s look at the popular items across categories for business customers in 2018. Sales numbers tell a story about where technology deployed by small businesses is headed. Several interesting narratives are brought about by looking at sales trends. We’ll ferret out what these are below.
VR is the real deal for business customers
The emergence of Virtual Reality headsets for home users shouldn’t surprise anyone following tech news. What is surprising is that we sold lots of VR headsets to business customers in 2018. At Newegg, VR headsets are classified with input-output devices like keyboards, mouse, and webcams. The top three sales generating items in this category went to Oculus Rift VR headsets. Let’s look at how are businesses using virtual reality.
Let’s add some context to make sense of this trend. VR made inroads in 2018 at location-based spaces, like VR arcades. Turns out that the VR experience translates better outside the home for most people. This is largely an accessibility issue. High-fidelity premium content experiences require several pieces of hardware accessories, which the typical home user may not have the budget or the space to enjoy where they live. This is the reason the location-based VR entertainment market will double this year.
It’s not just for entertainment, either. We are also seeing a wide application of VR technology in healthcare. In hospice care, it helps practitioners and caregivers experience life from the perspective of the patient. Many hospitals use immersive operating room simulations to help train doctors and nurses. On patients, VR is used to rehabilitate patients affected by brain trauma, and restore low vision as a result of an eye-affecting injury or a disorder like diabetes.
In HR departments across many industries, companies are using VR in training simulations in areas where learning is dangerous or expensive. Apart from healthcare, VR in aviation is changing the way pilots learn to fly, with immersive simulation technology offering a safer and less expensive option to logging flight hours.
AMD posted gains, but Intel remains strong
What a year for AMD. Investors and analysis were bullish on the microprocessor manufacturer as it clawed CPU market share away from rival Intel. Considering the company’s future was in serious doubt as recently as 2016, the AMD turnaround was one of tech hardware’s major narratives in the second and third quarter this year. It peaked with the launch of the second-generation AMD Ryzen desktop CPU, and AMD Threadripper for workstations, and AMD EPYC for server computers.
For customers building PCs for work, Intel remained dominant as the CPU of choice claiming eight of the top 10 best-selling CPUs. Intel Core i7-8700K took the top spot generating 15 percent of CPU revenues. Second overall in terms of quantity sold is a classic: the AMD FX-8350, perhaps the most steadfast component for budget PC building over the past five years. The 16-core AMD Threadripper 1950x placed in the eight-spot. Rounding out the top five CPUs were Intel Core i5-8400, Intel Core i7-7700 and the unlocked Intel Core i7-7700K.
Dell OptiPlex Reigns Supreme for Business PCs
The overall market for desktop computers shows a long, slow decline. According to Gartner, the category posted 14 consecutive quarters of declines before leveling out in the third quarter of 2018. The death of the desktop PC narrative is not a new one. The remaining demand for stationary computers comes from corporate and governmental sectors. This trend was bolstered by Windows 7 end of life looming in January 2020. This is where market leaders Lenovo, Dell, and HP continue to win business and increase sales (+10.7 percent, +6.2 percent, and +5.3 percent respectively). In contrast, e brands like Apple, Acer, and Asus saw double-digit declines.
For NeweggBusiness customers, Dell owns the desktop PC category. The most popular PCs for businesses were mid-range Dell OptiPlex PCs (Intel Core i5 and 8 GB of RAM) that come with Windows 10 Professional pre-installed. Four of the top five best-selling desktop PCs for business customers. A surprising number two is a comparatively powerful PC by ABS (Intel Core i7, 16 GB RAM, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 Ti video card) a computer that was marketed towards gamers and sold without Windows licensing included.
It proved to be a good year for Dell monitors too, with the brand taking the four of the top five best sellers in that category. Judging by the numbers, it’s apparent that a dual monitor setup comprised of two 23-inch Dell monitors was a popular choice for business users this year. The top four monitor SKUs in order: Dell P2417H 23.8-inch; Dell P2317H Black 23-inch; ASUS VS248H-P Black 24-inch; and Dell P2217H 21.5-inch.
Ubiquiti is ubiquitous for small office networking
If you installed a small office network setup this year, there’s a good chance you used Ubiquiti Networks hardware for your build. The NYC-based brand took home the top spot for network switches (48-port UniFi managed switch) and this five-pack of UAP UniFi AC Pro 802.11ac wireless access points as the two best-selling SKUs in the category.
Investors noticed that the brand making an impact in commercial networking. Ubiquiti stock popped over 17 percent in November this year, primarily driven by a 40 percent increase year-over-year in enterprise segment sales.
SSD prices decline and Samsung dominates the market
Five years ago, SSD prices came down so mainstream users could justify installing SSD into a laptop to enhance performance. In the years after that, the market experienced a NAND shortage caused by handset manufacturers buying up supply. This year that changed. An oversupply of 3D TLC NAND flash memory decreased production costs for manufacturers. Nearly all OEMs offered solid state storage at a lower price point.
For customers purchasing SSD to install into laptop and desktop computers, it was all Samsung. Well, mostly Samsung I should say. Six of the top 10 SSDs for business systems were Samsung SKUs. The top three being Samsung 860 EVO 2.5-inch drives in 1 TB, 500 GB, and 250 GB capacity respectively. The runner-up is Crucial MX500 which placed two SKUs among the leaders.