Sales of PCs, which includes notebooks, netbooks, and desktops are on the decline for the first time since 2001. This is a landmark moment and a harbinger of the future age of mobile. While sales of tablets and smartphones will increase rapidly, sales of PCs will stay the same or decline. Pew Research says:
Half of all U.S. adults now have a mobile connection to the web through either a smartphone or tablet, significantly more than a year ago
Access to the internet had been one of the major drivers of PC adoption because it was pretty much the only way to get on the net. Nowadays however, people have devices with them at all times that allow those same use cases. This ability to access the internet with the cheaper, easier, and more convenient form factors of mobile devices is causing the demand for PCs to decline. I really don’t see most people wanting to hunker down at a desktop or want to hunch over a laptop unless they are working.
The form factor of a tablet is much more desirable than a PC for someone watching TV or just hanging out on a couch. I find myself preferring my iPad to my laptop unless I am doing lots of writing or other input-heavy activities. An example of this is a situation occurred the other day with my roommate, a friend from out of town, and me. We were hanging out, chatting, and relaxing, in my living room, when I realized we were all on our iPads.
I find it hard to imagine that the same situation occurring where we would all be sitting on our laptops while hanging out. There is something about the way you handle a tablet, and the passive qualities of the experiences that are had on them that lends to their increased usage. When I think of laptops, I think of chargers and heat, which I do not associate with tablets at all.
A lot of people out there are looking at these numbers and blaming the dip on the economy and on the pending release of Windows 8, and while I think that may have some contribution to the decline in PC sales, this is really about a change in consumer behavior. The only thing the PC really has going for it is business usage.
Our office has 80 high-tech people working out of it, and I don’t see a single one of them using a tablet. Many use laptops (which count as PCs) with external monitors, wireless mouses and wireless keyboards. I personally am not going to trade a tablet in anytime soon for my work setup. I am writing this article right now on the setup pictured below:
I am much more productive on this computer for inputting information than I am on a tablet or phone. Work situations seem to be one of the few instances where a PC is preferable to a tablet and I would bet that this stays true for a good amount of time. Typing on a real keyboard is, a lot faster than typing on a touch screen, hands down. My prediction is that any input heavy task like writing, design, and development will continue to be done on PCs for the foreseeable future while, passive and low input activities such as reading, social networking, and shopping continue to push the transition to mobile devices over PCs.
PCs are not going extinct, in fact no technology really ever goes extinct, but they will become more and more sparse, especially in the coming years as consumers start to own more than one size of tablet. It’s kind of sad to see the era of the PC transition out, but observing this changing trend is one of the main reasons NatMobi was founded and is what we are capitalizing on now and into the future.