View From Above

Jan 9 2013   3:18PM GMT

It’s Mobile’s World Now and PC Just Has to Get Over It

Ron Miller Ron Miller Profile: Ron Miller

As mobile devices usage continues to rise, we see PC sales decline.

We’ve seen all the signs lately that the PCs days are numbered and mobile and cloud, well they’re the cat’s meow, the BMOC, the big dog.

Oh , you’ll still see PC skulking around, showing up at parties and being annoying, but in 2012, we seemed to make a clear transition from desktop to mobile. Even Microsoft has seen this coming. Hence the rush to the cloud, the emphasis on mobile and the even the release of a Microsoft branded tablet with more coming.

We’ve all heard that Windows 8 PC sales have been slow. NPD reported at the end of November that Windows 8 sales were sluggish as were PCs and laptops in general with notebooks down 24 percent and desktop sales down 9 percent.

Granted it was early days, but Preston Gralla writing on his Computerworld blog after the holidays found that Windows 8 sales were still in the doldrums, and Gralla referenced a variety of sources reporting essentially the same bad news with lagging sales — and some computer manufacturing executives were beginning to express frustration at the lack of Windows 8 PC and laptop sales.

I trust that it has nothing to do with the quality of Windows 8. Whether you love it or not doesn’t have much to do with the lack of sales. It’s because the sales have shifted to mobile devices. In Mary Meeker’s Internet Trends report this year, one telling slide was # 25, which showed in the fourth quarter of 2010, smartphones and tablet shipments surpassed PC and notebook shipments for the first time — and are expected to skyrocket in the coming years, while PC and notebook shipments will remain flat. Go have a look, it’s pretty telling. I’ll wait.

What’s even more telling is the next slide which predicts that sometime this year, the installed base of mobile device users will surpass the installed base of PC and Netbook user for the first time. Those two slides tell the tale of the changing demographics in technology usage (in case you needed a picture of what’s become obvious to just about everyone).

That not enough for you? How about this little data point then? Apple reported recently that it surpassed 40 billion total downloads in the App Store  since inception with almost half of those coming in 2012 and 2 billion in December alone. The App Store now has an astonishing 775,000 apps now. There are simply a lot of idevices out there and people appear to love to download apps.

And it’s not just Apple. ReadWriteWeb reports that Google, the other mobile behemoth, and its Google Play Android store is growing even faster and could pass a million apps before Apple does.

All this data seems to agree that mobile is ascending and PC is waning. This doesn’t mean we’ll stop using PCs or that the PC will go the way of the dinosaur, at least for the near term, but it does mean the PC will have less and less use in our lives, and as that is going to have an impact on traditional PC software like Windows and Office for the desktop. It’s a mobile world and the traditional PC is just going to have to get used to it.

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(c) Can Stock Photo

8  Comments on this Post

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  • everydaylinuxuser

    I think the rise of the tablet can be determined by two clear principles. 1. It is very portable and 2. you don't need any computing expertise to use one.

    The humble desktop or laptop running Windows would inevitably end up with (for average users who just want to look at facebook, youtube etc) the owner having to ask their pal's son who knows a bit about computing to fix the damn thing because data has gone missing or there are popups everywhere or it has slowed down or it won't boot properly etc. With a tablet you don't really get this. You go online and it works, you watch a youtube video and it works. Updates aren't so intensive and can be done at your own leisure.

    With a tablet you aren't hassled about needing firewalls, anti-virus software, downloading new versions of flash, adobe reader and all other manner of things that make your PC take an age to boot up. There are no messages telling you that your PC is going to reboot to install a bunch of updates (and not when you want it to, now or in 10 minutes).

    Linux gets rid of some of the problems above but for the web using generation still doesn't make using a laptop or netbook as appealing as a tablet.

    For the power user though the laptop is still king. Tablets are fun toys but they don't allow you to do all the things a power user wants to do.

    10 pointsBadges:
  • Michael Tidmarsh
    Did you see Lenovo CEO Yuanqing Yang say PCs won't be disappearing anytime soon? I think he might be in denial.
    62,155 pointsBadges:
  • Ron Miller
    Everydaylinuxuser:There will always be users who prefer a desktop or laptop, but I think you're way off base dismissing them as simply toys. You see them increasingly at work and Apple, Google and Microsoft are selling them to enterprises at a brisk clip, who are creating solutions to help users protect and work with enterprise content and applications.
    580 pointsBadges:
  • Ron Miller
    Michael:He's not completely wrong. I suspect that traditional PCs and laptops will continue to be around for quite some time, but in a much more reduced role than we've been used to seeing in the past.
    580 pointsBadges:
  • Ben Rubenstein
    A couple of contrary perspectives from the forums: (
    - "I don't think a tablet can handle all the processing that I would normally do on a daily basis"
    - "I don't think [the PC] will regain its former glory, but I don't think we are watching its death either"
    11,255 pointsBadges:
  • Ron Miller
    Ben, Thanks for sharing those comments. I think I make it clear in my concluding paragraph that the PC isn't going away. I fully acknowledge that there are people who will continue to use them, but overall the trend is clear and mobile is becoming the dominant device. That said, we will continue to see people use PCs, just as some businesses continue to use mainframes, but on a more limited basis.
    580 pointsBadges:
  • anthonymaw
    I predict corporate work mainstream task-oriented worker PC's will be replaced by VDI VM terminals within the next decade.  Laptops will take up the rest of the PC market.  The desktop workstation box machines will be relegated to those users who absolutely require maximum performance specs and add-on card expandability.
    20 pointsBadges:
  • Baron210
    At the slow pace that my industry moves at, I think (ay least I hope) my job is safe. i work as a systems integrator in the Defence industry, which involves total sollotion planning and system design, building and software configuration for such things from control systems for carrier grade servers to Aircraft flight simulation (not your average "Beige" boxes). But I love PC used as a hobby, thats where my direction is changing also, I am lucky enough to have four PC's networked (all different server functions) - my main one a Core I7 - spetty nippy witha good SSD. I have moved onto using the wifes I-Pad lately, and it is pretty modern and useable. The change in the domestic market is where it's going to happen fastest. I'm loving the DNLA functionality, who knows whats around the corner though in Tech we dont want to all be stuck in the past driving Morris Minors do we?    My linkedin profile btw.
    80 pointsBadges:

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