HP, Lenovo Vie for Top Spot in a Consolidating Global PC Market

Today's topics include the increasingly competitive global PC market and how it is driving top vendors, the launch of Intel's first branded drone, Google's acquisition of FameBit in an effort to enable better branded video content on YouTube and the unveiling of Amazon Music's unlimited streaming service.

Lenovo and HP Inc. continue to vie for the top spot in a still-slowing global PC market that is consolidating around a handful of top vendors. Third-quarter numbers released this week by market research firms IDC and Gartner showed that HP is inching closer to market leader Lenovo, with less than a percentage point separating them in the number of systems shipped.

"There are two fundamental issues that have impacted PC market results: the extension of the lifetime of the PC caused by the excess of consumer devices, and weak PC consumer demand in emerging markets," Mikako Kitagawa, principal analyst at Gartner, said in a statement. "According to our 2016 personal technology survey, the majority of consumers own, and use, at least three different types of devices in mature markets. Among these devices, the PC is not a high priority device for the majority of consumers, so they do not feel the need to upgrade their PCs as often as they used to. Some may never decide to upgrade to a PC again."

Intel officials have cited drones as an important growth market for the chip maker, and the company has been aggressive in getting its technologies--including silicon and software--into devices from other companies. Now Intel is rolling out a drone of its own, with the company's name not only on components inside the unmanned aerial vehicle, but also on the outside.

At the InterGeo 2016 show this week, Intel officials unveiled the Falcon 8+, the company's first branded drone. It builds off the work done on the Falcon 8, a commercial drone developed by Ascending Technologies.

The octocopter is designed for industrial and commercial work, including inspection, surveying and mapping, and comes with a broad range of capabilities and a sophisticated control unit.

Google has acquired marketing firm FameBit in a move the company says will make it easier for brands to work with YouTube creators in pitching products through sponsorships and paid promotions.

The acquisition will increase the number of branded content opportunities that are available on YouTube in the form of product placements, sponsorships and promotions. And it will bring in more revenue for content creators on the video-sharing platform, Ariel Bardin, Google's vice president of product management, said in announcing the deal on Google's YouTube blog.

Amazon is boosting its streaming music subscription offerings with a new Amazon Music Unlimited service that will provide customers with tens of millions of songs to choose from, an increase from the 2 million songs currently available for free to Amazon Prime customers.

The paid service is priced at $7.99 a month or $79.99 a year for Prime members, or $9.99 a month for non-Prime customers, for one account for all of a user's devices.

The company is also offering a $3.99 monthly subscription for Amazon Echo users to get music on one Echo, Echo Dot or Amazon Tap device. Echo subscribers who want to expand their service to their other devices can upgrade to a standard plan later at the rates for those plans.