Post-PC Era Delayed
With all the hoopla about tablets and smartphones it’s easy to overlook the fact that personal computers remain a mainstay of business. According to eTForecasts, worldwide PC sales will weigh in at 372.2 million in 2011. In fact, nearly 40 percent of these computers are desktop machines.
Desktops remain popular for a number of reasons. They’re generally more powerful than laptops and tablets, and their larger displays make them more suited to serious work, including writing documents, assembling spreadsheets, conducting research and scientific tasks, and doing design and engineering work.
Desktop PCs are also less expensive and easier for IT departments to manage, upgrade and repair. Finally, there’s no battery to run out. Likewise, laptops, with dedicated keyboards and larger storage capacity, are generally preferable to tablets for getting serious work done.
Interestingly, desktop sales haven’t tailed off as much as mobile systems have proliferated. eTForecasts reports that desktop sales peaked at 138.1 million units worldwide in 2008 but still stand at 129.3 million units in 2011. By contrast, the use of mobile PCs has climbed from 126.1 in 2008 to 227.9 in 2011. The latter figure is expected to increase to 369.5 million in 2015.
Michael Dell (obviously an interested party) is among those dismissing the doomsayers. “There are a billion and a half PCs in the world and while Gartner change their estimates here and there, they also estimate there will be two billion PCs in the world by 2014. So when I look at that, I think the idea that the PC is no longer here is complete nonsense,” he noted in a recent Financial Times article.
“You see PCs, tablets, you see smartphones. But those other devices aren’t necessarily replacing the PCs,” Dell added.
In the months ahead, expect significant changes in PCs, including the widespread use of solid-state drives, lighter and thinner laptops, touchscreens, fast flash standby (which takes a snapshot of the system and stores it in flash memory; the feature is already available on the MacBook Air) and true instant-on systems. Intel CEO Paul Otellini told financial analysts last May that the company is working on numerous innovations and hopes to “rejuvenate” the personal computer.
In fact, Forrester Research predicts that consumer demand for PCs will continue to grow. It points out that in 2015, when 82 million U.S. consumers will have tablets, 140 million people will own laptops.