Are PCs the New Dinosaur?

One doesn’t have to look far to see the disruption taking place in the personal computer industry. Smartphones and tablet device sales are at al time highs, while PC’s struggle to hold market share.

Personal computers have had a pretty good run. Since the 1970’s advances in memory and speed have kept desktops adorned with monitors, keyboards and mice. Technology has a way of changing things, and once we are comfortable with new technologies, we change too.

International Data Corporation (IDC) reports last week that PC’s sales have declined more than 4% in the US since last year. Earlier in the year IDC reported, for the first time ever, smartphone sales outnumbered PC’s sales worldwide by more than 10 million, selling 92 million in the last quarter of 2010. That is not counting the huge rise in sales of tablet devices.

Rajani Singh is a  research analyst for United States Quarterly PC Tracker,  “The U.S. PC market continued to contract in 2Q11, largely as a result of three factors. The first is an ongoing contraction in the Mini Notebook (Netbook) market and related inventories. The second is the impact of 2Q10’s difficult-to-sustain 12% growth. And third, demand has softened as corporate buyers continue to focus on increasing share of their IT budget in new IT solutions such as cloud and virtualization, and consumer interest shifts to media tablets.”

Globally there is some growth in the PC market, about 2% according to IDC, but no where near the explosive growth of tablets and smartphones, 67%. IDC doesn’t count tablets in its PC reporting, if they did the iPad alone would account for nearly 10% of all PC sales in the last quarter. Imagine what that number would look like if we included all of the Android and Windows tablet devices.

We have become a society of portability. We can retrieve and share information an instant, and watch live streaming events and video. We can store any of that information on a cloud or in our portable devices and retrieve it anytime we want. It is estimated that more than 50 million tablets will be sold globally this year, with estimates of doubling in 2012. Granted still small compared to the 362 million PC’s sold, but then tablets on hit the market a little over a year ago.

Wall Street sees the shift occurring too. Goldman Sachs told the Associated Press tablets are “one of the most disruptive forces in computing in nearly three decades.” It predicts that as many as 21 million people will buy tablets instead of laptops this year, jumping to 26.5 million next year.

What I see occurring is the not the replacement of personal computers, but the evolution of desktop and mobile devices. Just today Apple released its latest operating system Lion OS. Steve Jobs, Apple CEO, is making no bones about it, quoted as saying “we have entered the post-PC era”. Lion OS blurs the lines between the iPad and the PC, adding mobile like features including touch-scrolling and “Facetime”.

Walt Mossberg of All Things Digital wrote that the the new operating system is the “most radical new MacIntosh operating system in years,” Mossberg calls it a  “giant step in the merger of the personal computer and post-PC devices like tablets and smartphones.”

Granted, the switch to all portable will not take place in the next couple of years, but without a doubt the tide is heading out on desktop computing.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, July 20th, 2011 at 2:52 pm and is filed under Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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