1 Simple Chart That Proves the PC Is Dead

Stop me if you've heard this one before: the PC is dead. This has been a recurring debate in the tech world for years. Plenty of digital ink has been spilled right here on Fool.com trying to prove and disprove that notion. Investors would be surprised at how much has actually happened over the past three to four years.

Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL  ) has proclaimed that we're now entering the "Post-PC" era, but Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT  ) thinks it's more like "PC-Plus." I'll show you one simple chart that proves the PC is dead.

Three for the price of one!
First, I have a little confession to make. I've misled you a tiny bit; there's actually more than one chart for us to go through, but don't worry, we'll get to it. I've compiled four years of quarterly historical data from IDC on the smartphone, tablet, and PC markets and created a handful of charts to make my case.

These are worldwide PC unit shipments over the past four years:

Source: IDC.

I know what you're thinking right now: "Reports of the PC's death are greatly exaggerated." Sure, the PC market isn't growing like it used to, and total unit shipments in 2012 came in at 352.4 million. That's still a big market any way you slice it, and units were down only 3.2% from the 363.9 million units that were moved in 2011. "Death" may seem a little dramatic for an annual decline of "just" 3.2%.

The previous chart is not the problem, though. This one is:

Source: IDC.

While the overall PC market is down marginally, smartphone and tablet units have absolutely exploded. If you think about the computing landscape today, these three categories of devices represent the primary ways in which people compute and connect. Back in 2009, PCs really were the dominant form factor used in computing, and the smartphone market was still nascent and a relatively niche segment of the broader mobile phone market, even after Apple revolutionized the industry in 2007 with the iPhone.

There's much debate over how viable an alternative tablets currently are to PCs, but this is a classic textbook case of disruption happening before our very eyes, where a new technology invades from below before it can satisfy mainstream performance needs. Over time, the new technology improves on performance and moves up-market once it reaches performance parity (usually with cost advantages), causing the incumbent technology to retreat upwards into higher-performance niche segments.

This is the true threat to the PC, as widespread global adoption of smartphones and tablets can arguably replace the PC for most users' casual needs. Soon, tablets will replace most consumer PCs. The first sign that this is happening will be extended upgrade cycles, followed by minimal consumer PC upgrades. PCs will always have a place in enterprise and higher-performance professional segments, but the mainstream consumer is shifting to mobile -- fast.

If we look at the broader market for computing devices through this lens, the PC's share has absolutely plunged. This is the chart that proves that the PC is indeed dead.

Source: IDC.

At the beginning of 2009, the PC comprised nearly two-thirds of all computing devices, with the rest being smartphones. Then Apple introduced the iPad in Q2 2010 and jump-started the tablet market, which has now grown to 122.6 million units in 2012. In less than three years, the tablet market is now already a third of the PC market in unit terms.

Mobile device adoption shows no signs of slowing down, and now PCs are just a quarter of all computing devices sold today. That's an incredible decline in the PC's share of the computing market over the span of just four years. This is what people are talking about when they refer to the death of the PC.

One for the road
How do Apple and Microsoft play into all of this?

Microsoft continues to dominate the PC landscape. Linux market share tends to hover around 1% and Apple was about 4.8% of the global PC market last year. That leaves the remaining 94% or so of PCs running Windows. Smartphone OS figures for Q4 2012 have not been released yet by IDC, but Windows Phone and Windows Mobile market share is typically between 2% to 3%.

Only in the fourth quarter did Microsoft officially enter the tablet market meaningfully with Windows 8 and Surface, and IDC pegs Q4 Surface units at 900,000. In December, IDC estimated that Windows would garner 2.9% of the tablet market in 2012.

When you put all of that together, Microsoft owned about 30.3% of the entire computing device market in 2012. Back in 2009 when the tablet market didn't exist, that figure was 64.2%. That's a remarkable drop in Microsoft's total share of the computing market.

In contrast, while Apple has always been a small player in the PC market, it's been the defining company of the smartphone and tablet markets. While Microsoft was seeing its share of computing decline, Apple's has more than tripled, from 6.1% to 20.7%.

Sources: IDC and Apple.

Tim Cook has long voiced his belief that the tablet market will soon eclipse the PC market as part of the "Post-PC" rhetoric. So far, it's playing out more like Apple envisioned it instead of how Microsoft saw it going.

There's no doubt that Apple is at the center of technology's largest revolution ever, and that longtime shareholders have been handsomely rewarded with over 1,000% gains. However, there is a debate raging as to whether Apple remains a buy. The Motley Fool's senior technology analyst and managing bureau chief, Eric Bleeker, is prepared to fill you in on both reasons to buy and reasons to sell Apple, and what opportunities are left for the company (and your portfolio) going forward. To get instant access to his latest thinking on Apple, simply click here now.


Read/Post Comments (103) | Recommend This Article (87)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

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  • Report this Comment On February 01, 2013, at 8:27 PM, Solov wrote:

    New market vs. saturated market, duh!

    Now that everyone who wanted it have their iPad let's see how it will continue to grow.

    Plus Intel finally got off their butt and will introduce this year decently improved processor line since 2009.

  • Report this Comment On February 01, 2013, at 9:12 PM, ml508 wrote:

    Comparing computers to telephones, huh, Like comparing airplanes to automobiles and drawing conclusions from the results. Or better yet, comparing games machines to word processors. So what if telephones are better for playing games? Computers and tablet computers are still better for doing business. It's just that they're getting easier to haul around. I think I detect an over-exposure to the apple sales pitch.That's a great way to play the hysteria of that fad but as for the market....

    The market price will eventually return to value. Fads and hysteria don't last. Apple got great because it used to have a charismatic leader. Exit the charisma-leader and...

  • Report this Comment On February 01, 2013, at 9:21 PM, TMFNewCow wrote:

    ml508, I too am shocked that people still by automobiles when they can get an airplane that is 10x as fast.

    -- Evan

  • Report this Comment On February 01, 2013, at 9:27 PM, TreyAnas wrote:

    These trends and the gist of the article are familiar. But, the idea that the tablet or phones just need to be sped up or made more powerful to be all-purpose PC substitutes is ludicrous.

    For tablets, the information input mechanism is much less efficient than keyboard or mouse (possibly in combination with touch). The screens are also a little small. But add a keyboard (even a detachable one), enlarge the screen a bit, and grow the processing and you have something like a PC.

    These same two issues - screen size and input - are even more acute in smartphones.

    In my opinion, some tasks that could once be done only on a PC (light email, web browsing, social networking, etc.) can now be done on these more mobile devices. So the use shifted for some people. Plus, especially with a smartphone, telecommunication (i.e., phone) and GPS capabilities come along.

    But doing anything that require even a moderate amount of input, multiprocessing an a screen, or file management requires a PC. Maybe not forever, but for a good while.

    By the way, the enterprise is very big business for Intel and Microsoft. Economic growth and the IT investment that often accompanies it will significantly goose INTC and MSFT if it ever occurs.

  • Report this Comment On February 01, 2013, at 10:15 PM, deasystems wrote:

    @ml508: "Apple got great because it used to have a charismatic leader. Exit the charisma-leader and..."

    Not quite. Apple has always been great. It got greater when Jobs returned to the company. One of the great things he did was nurture a world class executive team and also establish the company's internal Apple University to codify the principles and culture that got the company to where it is today. Apple University's function is to imbue those things within the company. If you believe that Jobs was important, then you'll be pleased to know that his spirit and ways live on at Apple because of this action he took.

  • Report this Comment On February 01, 2013, at 10:27 PM, SkepikI wrote:

    This all sounds like the arguments I heard in 1974. Calculators will never eclipse slipsticks (sliderules) because they just cant keep up and they are 3,4,5 times as expensive. Calculators and their progeny will never eclipse mainframes because they just don't have the capability and the keyboard room of teletypes and perforated tape. AND they are not as efficienct with computing time as punch cards...DUH!!!

  • Report this Comment On February 02, 2013, at 12:38 AM, neocolonialist wrote:

    Tablets and smart phones have taken a tremendous bite out of the PC market. I am a long time PC market product developer and the transition has been huge and swift. Phones and tablets are just a better fit for a huge number of home and business consumers. I can't imagine I would lug around a heavy bulky PC if I was in sales for instance.

    Further, phones and tablets have enabled computing into areas that just wouldn't work for the PC. POS systems is one area that strikes me off the top of my head. The market for smart phones is obviously much larger than that of the PC as well, but that is kind of a side point to this debate.

    At the end of the day, I don't see how folks can't read the tea leaves here. The PC is going the way of the dodo, and the numbers back up that fact pretty clearly. The PC isn't going to go away anytime soon, but if you want growth, I would be looking elsewhere in the tech sector.

    I would MUCH rather be in AAPL's position going forward than MSFT's! I have long long said you don't bet against Microsoft, but today, I wouldn't touch their stock with a ten foot pole. AAPL on the other hand is a bargain any way you slice the numbers.

  • Report this Comment On February 02, 2013, at 1:36 AM, Pops61 wrote:

    The article only convinced me that tablets and smart phones are a major part of computing by the increase in sales. I didn't see anything that convinced me PC's are doomed.

  • Report this Comment On February 03, 2013, at 2:11 PM, dtor wrote:

    I would love to see the operational definition of "PC" as used for this article. Sounds like it's an X86 Von Neumann machine. I'll give the author this: it has been a while since many of those have been manufactured - even though many of those who call themselves 'programmer' today still code as if that's what they are working on.

    My "PC" still has a M$FT Windows O/S (8 for those who care), M$FT Office, etc. I use it for Financial Engineering (it cranks out just short of 4 teraflops). It's becoming dated and I'm considering an upgrade.

    Am I an outlier? Not particularly. There's a reason some Fools recommend NVDA besides the gamer market - the GPGPU enabled by their devices can take the "PC" to the status granted only to 'supercomputers' < 10 years ago.

    IIRC, empirical 'evidence' based on measuring one 'thing' and calling it something else was considered a Type I error by Campbell and Stanley. Without the design - especially the part describing *exactly* how the data was gathered - be very careful how the conclusions are used. Just my $.02 USD.

    Regards All

  • Report this Comment On February 04, 2013, at 12:28 PM, MaxTheTerrible wrote:

    I wonder why personal calculators, game consoles and digital watches were not included in the "computing devices" category?..

  • Report this Comment On February 04, 2013, at 12:44 PM, mmathis21788 wrote:

    Let's have a definition of a 'computing device'. I don't know of a single business that is replacing PCs with portable devices. Businesses are augmenting the capability of the networks and interconnectivity with these devices, not replacing. When I see the chart of smartphone, tablets et al, I'm seeing a new consumer demand, not the death knell of a PC. Tablets/smartphones are powerful, (not very secure as a family of devices, but I digress) however, try doing a single day of full business work (other than email) on a 7 inch screen.

    I'm glad the article likes Apple. The article fails to convince me that PCs are doomed just yet.

  • Report this Comment On February 04, 2013, at 12:52 PM, CluckChicken wrote:

    "Only in the fourth quarter did Microsoft officially enter the tablet market meaningfully with Windows 8 and Surface"

    For the love of god please stop saying this it just shows a lack of any understanding of the products. Win8 is not a tablet OS it is a PC OS. The Surface RT is a tablet, the Surface Pro is a PC. Any "tablet" running Win8 is a PC, any running Win8 RT is a tablet. Creating charts off data that is collected or defined poorly would be like saying the large scale farming industry is dead because Sears sells more Craftsman trackers then Case does.

    As much a you like to keep saying the PC is dead, I have one simple question, all those Smartphones and Tablets connect to something, what is that something?

    As for me, everything I now do at work could be done using Windows RT to a lesser extent with an iPad yet we will continue to buy PCs because well the PC is still by far the best deal and the best suited to do the job.

  • Report this Comment On February 04, 2013, at 2:31 PM, TheRealRacc wrote:

    I apologize for being blunt but this article, and the touting of one simple chart proving a point, misses the mark. Way off.

    Tablets and smartphones don't exist without PCs. The reason they outnumber PCs is because they are cheaper and smaller. If I could carry a PC in my hand that handled my phone calls and let me play Angry Birds, then the component breakdown would be 100%PC, 0% smartphone, 0% tablet.

    This is a worthless piece of writing.

  • Report this Comment On February 04, 2013, at 2:52 PM, gridflash wrote:

    The PC is only dead for people who consume content. It's not dead for people who create content.

  • Report this Comment On February 04, 2013, at 2:54 PM, 1spring wrote:

    That last comment is too harsh. It is a reasonable article, and raises questions worthy of the exploration in the excellent responses.

  • Report this Comment On February 04, 2013, at 4:29 PM, TMFRhino wrote:

    "I apologize for being blunt but this article, and the touting of one simple chart proving a point, misses the mark. Way off.

    Tablets and smartphones don't exist without PCs. The reason they outnumber PCs is because they are cheaper and smaller."

    And an entire generation of children in many markets will grow up with a tablet/mobile device as a primary form of engaging technology. Because of portability, cheapness, but also ease of use. To that generation, it's not that tablets and smartphones don't exist without PCs... It's that the PC never exists to them at all.

    I wouldn't write off Evan as the one missing the mark. To say Microsoft has some impenetrable competitive moat is to not acknowledge many purchases come with a conscious decision to buy in place of a PC. Charts like this illustrate powerful ideas.

    -Eric

  • Report this Comment On February 04, 2013, at 4:46 PM, Raphael1990 wrote:

    If I look at this chart I see products that cater to different people and different needs. I see a saturated PC market and a growing tablet and smartphone market. However I dont see a meaningful decrase in market volume for PCs caused by mobile devices. Claims about products being dead because their market is not growing anymore while other markets are growing are ridiculous. If anything this chart proves - ironically - that the PC is very much alive.

    This is the first time I wish there was a button to vote articles down bacuse this really is a (not very original) piece of useless sensationalism.

  • Report this Comment On February 04, 2013, at 4:53 PM, toastedseeds wrote:

    WE recently discussed this on the Intel board. The PC market is not dead, it's mature. Most people who want one have one and those who have one have very little reason to upgrade. SMartphones and tablets are new, of course that market is growing faster, the question is how much are iether canabalizing the PC market. I'd venture that Samrtphones are having a negligible impact on PC sales. Tablets? Perhaps to some degree. As someone else said tablets are for content consumers. If that's all you do you don't need a PC, but I think that's a smaller number. Give people a reason to upgrade, a killer app or a big improvement in performance and there will be a surge in PC sales.

    ts

  • Report this Comment On February 04, 2013, at 5:08 PM, TotallyJaded wrote:

    I think there's a lot of lost context here.

    If I buy a MacBook Pro, an iPhone, and an iPad, I guess you could make the argument that portable devices are more popular at my house by 2:1.

    By the same token, if I have 24 screwdrivers and one drill, you could make the chart say that screwdrivers are preferred to drills by a whopping 24:1.

    What's missing is that people use different tools for different things, and "New! Shiny!" is more predictable and relevant on smartphones and tablets as emerging technologies.

    There's rarely a practical need to replace one's laptop every year, when processor and battery improvements tend not to move so quickly, and OS updates are fully-functional. Compare with any iPhone or iPad, where a person is immediately out of fashion with an old one, and new features are rarely carried over to legacy devices.

    If I want to add a HD camera to my laptop, I can go to the store and add one. If I want to add one to my phone, I have to wait for someone to build it, and hope that the hardware is on my preferred platform.

    That's not to say that computers as we know them are immortal, but I think this obituary is still more than a little premature.

  • Report this Comment On February 04, 2013, at 5:12 PM, TheDumbMoney wrote:

    If you definition of "computing device" is simply "can access the internet," then these charts make sense.

    But, if your definition is: can do complex word processing and other processing, then most of this computing revolution does not reflect growth in "computing devices." You can't efficiently "compute" with a smartphone: you can only consume.

    You can compute on a tablet. But tablets are still a *relatively* small category (at least compared to smartphones). And you can't use a tablet for everything you can use a laptop for.

    I'm no MSFT booster. I own shares of it, and of AAPL, and of GOOG. I think all will do OK in their own ways. But I do think MSFT is going to be more than ok, and that the PC will change.

    Specifically, I think that within about five years, the idea of ANY monitor not being touch-capable will seem insane. The very word, "monitor" evokes stasis, wasted utility. "It was only good for LOOKING AT?" our kids will ask. And right now MSFT is leading that.

    My family, by the way, owns a circa-2006 desktop PC, circa 2000 and circa 2008 laptop PCs, an iPod touch, an iPhone 4S, an iPad4 (64GB), a Droid 3 phone, a Kindle Fire, and an original Kindle (ad-supported). (And a partridge and a pear tree.) I have been considering replacing the old laptop and the desktop with one device. And I am not interested in another iPad (though I love my iPad). Rather, I'm looking at touch-compatible PC ultrabooks running Windows 8. Right now the best buy in the category is, in my view, the Lenova Yoga, which can be used in laptop format, stand format, as a tablet, etc. The whole screen twiss and turns into multiple configurations.

    I know it remains fun to mock the convertable laptop PC, but to us, in my family, it holds huge appeal. We want something that has the touch-friendliness of an iPad, but on which you can do serious (over three hours at one time) computing on as well. And keep in mind, I'm the guy who in 2008 told my wife she woudl be crazy to buy a netbook, because the iPad was coming, and successfully convinced her not to buy the netbook. Convertable laptops are going to be huge..

  • Report this Comment On February 04, 2013, at 5:18 PM, ETFsRule wrote:

    "Not quite. Apple has always been great. It got greater when Jobs returned to the company."

    Apple has not always been great. They were a miserable failure for about a decade, when Jobs was not with the company.

  • Report this Comment On February 04, 2013, at 5:45 PM, WelshWhizz wrote:

    Several comments refer to the general topic of applicability. I could not do the complex scientific modeling my profession needs on a phone or tablet. The idea is just silly. Horses for courses.

  • Report this Comment On February 04, 2013, at 5:45 PM, jimskura wrote:

    i just bought a desk top computer with windows 7 / 8

    guess i have now become obsolete.

    jim

  • Report this Comment On February 04, 2013, at 5:47 PM, toddsw wrote:

    Uhh, not quite. Show me the chart that shows people who tossed their pc when they got a smartphone , or tablet? Granted, tablets make a great accessory computing device, heck me personally, I use a iPad at home about 95% of the time. I use a smartphone only when the tablet isn't available. At a tech conference in 2011 there was a cloud presentation and he summed up smartphone, tablets and computers this way:

    Smartphone = Appetizer (consumption of small qty of info)

    Tablet = Good meal in a restaurant (larger qty consumed)

    Computer = Chef (content creation).

    Sure, you can create content on sa smartphone and tablet, but its a tradeoff. I loath typing on a smartphone, and most adults over 30 do too.

  • Report this Comment On February 04, 2013, at 5:51 PM, ScottPletcher wrote:

    "Tim Cook has long voiced his belief that the tablet market will soon eclipse the PC market as part of the "Post-PC" rhetoric." Then he's been wrong for a LONG time so far, huh?

    Yeah, eventually that day may get here, but we've got 2-3 years at least.

    Btw, is the author committing himself to NEVER buy a PC again? Just curious :-).

    And who says you can't buy a new smartphone AND a new PC? At least some people will. I don't even have a smartphone because I don't want to pay the HUGE monthly bill.

  • Report this Comment On February 04, 2013, at 5:53 PM, HassayampaSlim wrote:

    The Android OS seems conspicuously missing from all this. A very large number of Smartphones, as well as Tablets, use the Android OS. Apple is very innovative but the majority of their market seems to be cult following without bringing in a lot of "new blood" to their customer base.

  • Report this Comment On February 04, 2013, at 5:55 PM, predarek wrote:

    I've heard and read this one quite a few times. I don't think that the PC itself is dead, but the market is completely different from the tablet or mobile phone. People replace their PC every... Tablets and mobile devices are new products, most people who own a PC will also buy a tablet and mobile. Being a new market, and a fast changing one, people will update their devices a lot faster than their PC.

    I remember in the early 2000's you had to replace your components often in your PC because your PC was obsolete 2 years after you bought it. Nowadays we are reaching a ceiling of performance with the current technology. As a good example, with the newest processors, unless you are doing some crazy computing like generating a computer graphic video, even if you play the most hardcore games, your PC will barely break a sweat. So that means that you need to improve your PC a lot slower than you used to.

    Also these charts aren't comparing the full pictures. If you buy a mobile device, you are getting the full products. There are still many people who are buying computers with each components separately. I'm sure it wouldn't make that much different, but it's worth noting. Also this article doesn't mention laptops, I'd be curious to see how they compare laptops and where were the hybrids considered in (some tablets are just regular laptops with a flip keyboard).

    So I think it doesn't mean the PC is dead, it's simply not the same market and can't be compared. It would be comparing the oven market when the microwave became mainstream. I'm sure microwaves were way up there while ovens (who are more durable) were a steady declines around the same years.

  • Report this Comment On February 04, 2013, at 6:00 PM, 8TCInvesting wrote:

    Just to add one more comment to "PC" is not dead. I believe massive growth of the PC market is over with.

    I am 58 - means I can't see 8 point font and itty bitty screens very well (and part of one of the larger populations in the USA).

    I have a laptop, an iPad and an iPhone.

    Creation and REAL work get done on the laptop - it is connected to TWO 27 inch screens, a keyboard, mouse and trackpad. Research gets done on this system too. Wish I could add another screen or two.

    The iPad and iPhone are used when I can't get at my laptop - I will travel with my laptop rather than give up screen real estate.

    Businesses require non-mobile employees to have a cheap, non-mobile computer that they know is going to stay where IT put it. They are also going to run that PC until long after it is dead and buried before replacing it with another one just like it (if they can).

    So yes, MASSIVE GROWTH of the "PC" is over with, but death, no, not happening until the "tablets" and "smartphones" can drive big screens and real keyboards. Even then, businesses are going to want non-mobile assets that they can control.

  • Report this Comment On February 04, 2013, at 6:03 PM, zunguri wrote:

    As others have mentioned, lumping desktops and laptops in with tablets, phablets, and phones is (to force a pun) foolish. There are some use-cases that are well suited to the newer devices, but there are also many that are simply not addressed, even poorly, by them. This explains why the PC sales are not disappearing; people who need to do real work are forced to come back to using a higher-functionality computer. The fact that these devices are in a saturated, replacement-only market isn't a big surprise.

    It would be interesting to looking at the device sales with a mind towards ASP and margin for each device segment. What will happen to tablet margins as the market approaches saturation? I think we all know the answer to this.

  • Report this Comment On February 04, 2013, at 6:04 PM, hifive55 wrote:

    Just a nice example of how easily statistics are skewed. You're comparing toys to workhorses.

    I've had my current PC since 2007, it still does everything I need it to, and I can get expansions/upgrades really cheap. Plus, I don't have to worry about it getting dropped or stolen. Why on earth would I spend money on a new PC?

    If I want a toy I'll probably opt for a little drone kit that actually does something fun and different, not just in a different format.

  • Report this Comment On February 04, 2013, at 6:18 PM, IdiotProof101 wrote:

    I agree with the comments about the PCs not being replaced as a tool for serious business or scientific use and content creation. But I can also see the overall PC market declining as many home PCs are replaced by tablets, since home use skews more toward content consumption than production.

  • Report this Comment On February 04, 2013, at 6:19 PM, Fool2beKC wrote:

    I think the folks observing the maturation - not the "death" - of the PC market are on the money. PC(s) are just not a growth investment anymore - in the way that they were.

    Similar kind of thing happened with PCs and mainframes. (Which are NOT dead at all, just not growing much except in Brazil and China and ...)

    But that maturation happens in a context of the explosion of phones and tablets addressing many new customers and enlarging the overall "market" for computing and communications. Alan Turing proved mathematically long ago that a computer is a computer is a computer.

    Microsoft took PCs from toys to business tools. Google's helped do much the same for the Internet as a whole and really as a way of life and livelihood now for many, many people. And Apple is the King of user interfaces and usability.

    I expect that in the not too distant future, thanks to Moore's Law, our "phones" will also have teraflops, if not petaflops, of processing power and what they lack can be supplemented with much more and much cheaper bandwidth over the Internet.

    Something like Google Glasses for viewing/listening to information and a gestural interface like Microsoft Kinect (a "touch screen in the air") aren't that far off as typical ways to view and interact with and enter/process (or better framed: experience) information of all kinds.

    Much of the "content creation" may be video/audio captured from reality and stored for later sharing. Oh wait, that's YouTube now isn't it?

  • Report this Comment On February 04, 2013, at 6:22 PM, whachagonnabet wrote:

    What am I reading this article and these comments on? A PC.

    What do I prefer to read them on? A PC.

    Hmmmmm.

  • Report this Comment On February 04, 2013, at 6:25 PM, colleran wrote:

    Calling a Smartphone a computing device is like calling my car a computing device. They both have processors after all. So does my NEATO robot vacuum. The desktop PC market is certainly dying, but the iPad is unlikely to replace a laptop unless you add a keyboard to it and provide some useful applications. That would make it a laptop. If the purpose of this piece was to get lots of feedback, you have succeeded.

  • Report this Comment On February 04, 2013, at 6:27 PM, Jurobi wrote:

    PC's are a mature market, People who actually do work already have them, and update them when they need to. Check.

    iPhones/Androids/ipads/tablets are new, attracting new users (most of which already have access to PC's), but can only be upgraded by buying the next "new" item. Doing extended work (or playing complicated games) requires more ergonomically friendly screens (larger) and input devices (keyboards/mice/whatever - turning them into PCs)

    Comparing smart phones/tablets to PCs is like comparing kittens to ford trucks. One is for cute and play, the other is for work.

  • Report this Comment On February 04, 2013, at 6:31 PM, AmcnFndrs wrote:

    It's no longer about a single device or one or two dominate players. It's about my portfolio of devices that allow me to be the most effetive between work, home, kids, etc.

    We are alreay beginning to see a series of indepenent parts that are interchangable and mobile with a a variety of sizes and styles. This is the future - devices I can customize to meet my needs in the style I prefer.

  • Report this Comment On February 04, 2013, at 6:35 PM, BarryInLA wrote:

    For some applications - graphics, video, heavy duty spreadsheets, and lots of others, there is just no substitute for a big screen or screens. While mobile devices have supplemented desktop machines, they have not replaced them. Real reason for slowdown is that new applications have not forced an upgrade cycle, and the useful life of desktop machines has increased for now. Latest revisions of Apple and Microsoft OSs do not require a hardware upgrade.

    Full disclosure: I was Apple employee #102.

  • Report this Comment On February 04, 2013, at 7:06 PM, gpearson601 wrote:

    If we could see the market segments of the PC over time, we could better understand its future. If a lot of people bought PCs (Apple & others) to look at content, then why continue buying PCs when tablets or smart phones provide the same thing. And earlier comments are correct that we don't have to upgrade as much as in past. Upgrade potential and segment preferences will tell the story.

  • Report this Comment On February 04, 2013, at 7:25 PM, ScottAtlanta wrote:

    I see a lot of comments defending the PC.

    However, I believe the tablet/smartphone category will further merge with the advance of technology and thence effectively replace the PC.

    For example the limitation of small size can easily be overcome with projected interfaces (the screen and the keyboard in optics) or until then, with bluetooth add ons to expand the capability of the small portable phone/tablet/phablet. No?

  • Report this Comment On February 04, 2013, at 7:28 PM, leomeister wrote:

    People have been under-utilizing the PC -- that's the truth of it. For the unintended masses, the PC was a tool for superficial information, entertainment, and social connectivity. In comes a better fit for the masses in terms of size, and user friendliness in the form of smartphones and tablets. But the PC is losing only in this area of unintended use-- this "bonus" period is losing speed.

    Those not in industry or business nor pursuing academics are the ones unlikely to buy a PC ever, or ever again. And it is this segment of the population that is growing fastest.

  • Report this Comment On February 04, 2013, at 7:29 PM, Fooloprunes wrote:

    "It's not really dead. It's just sleeping." (Monty Python)

    Most people only need a very small fraction of the power in a PC to do what they typically do. The phone and tablet guys figured that out, but MS and Intel didn't.

    I use my PC for CAD and a few other compute intensive programs, but most people don't. The PC isn't going away, but there will be very little growth in the PC market.

  • Report this Comment On February 04, 2013, at 7:30 PM, Fred4953 wrote:

    When my "PCWorld" mag changes its title, I'll know the PC is dead...also, as a doddering 81-year-old, I'm not at all comfortable with my wife's tablet....and I can't see its graphics at all..

  • Report this Comment On February 04, 2013, at 7:31 PM, KyleSanDiego wrote:

    Dead or just reached full potential in the marketplace and now people only buy replacements for more memory, faster speed, etc.

  • Report this Comment On February 04, 2013, at 7:43 PM, Fooloprunes wrote:

    Yup. It's a mature market, so don't expect any stellar gains from the companies that depend on that market.

    Unless something amazing happens, PCs are a commodity.

  • Report this Comment On February 04, 2013, at 7:50 PM, Fooloprunes wrote:

    "When my "PCWorld" mag changes its title, I'll know the PC is dead"

    By then, it will be far too late.

  • Report this Comment On February 04, 2013, at 8:05 PM, rolandstoan wrote:

    The only problem I foresee regarding the Apple TV is bandwidth. Netflix alone already has the ability to choke bandwidth on the internet part of the day and night. Unless they can cut a deal with satellite companies, I don't know how they'll get around this issue.

  • Report this Comment On February 04, 2013, at 8:09 PM, rpglurker wrote:

    The stupidity of the comment that the PC is dead is overwhelming... The assumption that the sales of "smart" devices is somehow an indictment of the PC is naive... I bought smart phones for every member of my family because they are convenient when I am mobile. But, if I need to get real work done, I turn to my PC. Ask yourself how many people have decided they no longer need their PC because they own a smart phone?

    The only reason to repeat this sensationalist rhetoric is to "sell newspapers". And the fool joins the trolls...

  • Report this Comment On February 04, 2013, at 8:54 PM, duelles wrote:

    I love my IPad, do not have a smart phone until new upgrade, but I watched the Super Bowl on my Mac. Not as good as a 55" HDTV, but the screen size and non portability is a significant plus for some of us. A flat lining of sales, ok. Death? They still sell horses don't they?

  • Report this Comment On February 04, 2013, at 8:56 PM, dsciola wrote:

    PC imo is hanging on by a thread because of Office. As far as I know, you still cant run spreadsheets, outlook, and other niche Office/Enterprise Suite modules Softie gave us.

    Evan, when is my tablet gonna be able to run a full 3-statement financial projection model or be able to run SAP or wtvr? Plz gaze into ur crystal ball and let me know so I can know when to unload my remaining MSFT shares ;)

    Dom

  • Report this Comment On February 04, 2013, at 9:00 PM, hbofbyu wrote:

    In 1913 Gideon Sundbäck invented a "hookless fastener” that was later redesigned to become more reliable. The Zipper is the same now as it was 100 years ago. Let's celebrate the 100 year anniversary of an invention that has never been surpassed or replaced. (nice try velcro).

  • Report this Comment On February 04, 2013, at 9:07 PM, lordprotector wrote:

    breaker .. breaker

  • Report this Comment On February 04, 2013, at 9:15 PM, mudhen3 wrote:

    You can look up all kinds of stuff quickly with a smartphone or ereader/tablet, and that's great! But, I'd be hard put to put together a household budget or baseball team roster on one of those. There's plenty of reason to still have a PC/Laptop, in my opinion! The comment uptop regarding "new market vs. saturated market" seems pretty cogent to me!

  • Report this Comment On February 04, 2013, at 9:44 PM, johnluma wrote:

    Might be true but PC's seem safe for what i use them for... at work. Or at home. Tough to make a living without one. Tough to get work done on my smartphone or tablet. Small screen is irritating. Can't hold or deliver the data I need... at work. The result, he PC is here for some time.

  • Report this Comment On February 04, 2013, at 10:00 PM, NOTvuffett wrote:

    Maybe if I had to ride a bus or train or subway to work everyday, I would buy a tablet. So that I could shoot off an email or two, and also watch a video file. Should I get mad when some jackass is watching porno?

  • Report this Comment On February 04, 2013, at 10:17 PM, bornboring wrote:

    This is the wrong way to write a respectable piece on this topic. I see usage of PC in leaps and bounds. Consumers have a wide choice of FORMATS.

    Computers are designed to process information, its footprint shrinks from room-size, desk sized (still referred to as desk top even though smaller), got portable (remember the Osbourne?), then laptops and netbooks for better mobility, the tablet is just a contnuation of this shrinking the foot-print, and the weight. The phone, after getting smart, gradually incorporate features towards the same end, beginning with texting. Its format causes a lot of limitations -- notice that they are growing larger lately? (I am wondering if somebody will produce a skin to make it look like a piece of raw steak.) So the writing should be to discuss the real usage of various formats, now and in the near future.

  • Report this Comment On February 04, 2013, at 10:23 PM, TerryHogan wrote:

    @predarek hit it when he compared them to microwaves and ovens.

    Some people will live with just a microwave - young pseudo-hipsters in apartments. But most people will opt to have both. Maybe you'll use your microwave most of the time, but if you want to cook a turkey, you'll use the oven.

    For just surfing or watching youtube or facebook, you'll use the tablet/smarphone. When you sit down to write your essay/report/novel you'll probably go to your laptop or PC. For myself, I use the smarphone frequently for short email, but most of the time I like having my dual monitors. I don't see bond traders giving up their multiple monitors for an ipad, although they'll probably own one.

    Mature, not dead. You can still get lots of cash from a mature market, plus there's always developments we haven't though of that could change usage patterns. See Swiffer, Starbucks, Keurig coffee makers, coke zero, walkman, Walmart, ipod, ishares (ETFS), etc.

  • Report this Comment On February 04, 2013, at 10:34 PM, optimist911 wrote:

    By the logic of this article, toilet paper is dead, too. For that matter, so are jeans, cars and hamburgers.

  • Report this Comment On February 04, 2013, at 11:05 PM, billmichael wrote:

    This article fails to point out that PC sales are steady for that portion of the market they occupy. The new tablets, smartphones, etc. are opening up NEW markets with NEW purposes. It is almost like comparing Apples to Oranges. One still needs a PC to do serious work and I don't think you can get far from that for a long time yet.

  • Report this Comment On February 04, 2013, at 11:11 PM, Alan4347 wrote:

    The PC in its current form is aging, but its evolution into the MS Surface Pro is a missing link for professionals. Consider these features: full interface compatibility with MSOffice, equipped with USB connectivity, can access office computer remotely, offers state of the art cloud access with MS Office Pro subscription for five computers for $199/year, has camera and voice features, is light and small in comparison to most laptops - hence, fits into briefcase easily, provides full keyboard and mouse connectivity through Blue Tooth, etc. This will be the missling link for professionals and will be a must buy. Add to that Microsoft's cash position and market position with its MS software, and you have a winning jumping off point for the next decade.

  • Report this Comment On February 05, 2013, at 12:04 AM, dxgmmpa wrote:

    I have been in IT since the mid 1960's. I think the death of the PC is BS dispute the Stats in this article. I believe I earned the right to comment on this issue. I have been there from the beginning.

    I have not purchased a PC for two years. I purchased two state of the art high quality laptops in 2010, loaded them up with all the software needed to do the work I do. They work great. They are fast and reliable and there is nothing I cannot do with them that I need to do. I have no need to replace them.

    On the other hand I did purchase several tablets and two smartphones for my kids and wife whose needs and uses different. Cells and tablets have very different uses than PCs although they share many of the same functions.

    Smart phones and Tablets are relatively new. They are like smart calculators. They are getting cheap enough to give one or two to each kid and everyone in the house if they don't really have any importantl work to do but need to communicate or look up or search for information online instead of using books and magazines. My wife uses a tablet to play solitaire and do crossword puzzles. She may look up a word or read a book and listen to some music. However, when she pays the bills and does online shopping she will use one of 4 older laptops laying around house that still work well and server a useful function. My kids will still use a laptop in college although they could get by with a tablet for many things .

    I believe tablets will just become the new smart calculators, news papers, book replacements and entertainment resources. All this is important however, real work for business, school and home will always be done a laptops, desktops and server arrays.

    The PC's biggest problem for manufacturers of electronic devises is that they have at least a 5 year life cycle and they run forever.

  • Report this Comment On February 05, 2013, at 12:27 AM, NOTvuffett wrote:

    @dqxmmpa, cellphones and tablets are fine if that is all the user's power requirements are. if you want a real computer then you will go to another source. i just can't see how a net-book is inferior to a tablet.

    maybe I am dating myself, but the first computer language I learned was Cobol on an NCR mainfraime, lol.

  • Report this Comment On February 05, 2013, at 1:03 AM, jomueller1 wrote:

    This article is mixing apples and oranges and kiwis. Like the previous writer I started in Computers in the sixties, though I first learned Fortran and assembler.

    Though cell phones have more computing power than an early PC it is not really feasible to run a spreadsheet or edit photo details. Even a good tablet does not work all that well for those purposes. Try a chess game on a cell phone! Or Monopoly.

    Each device has it's merits but I still only own a smart phone and a few computers. Nothing beats a 23 inch screen for reading magazines, except a bigger screen.

    Computers are too much for many people and so they jump on seemingly simpler devices. Still, my wife comes to me with her cell phone problems.

  • Report this Comment On February 05, 2013, at 1:19 AM, FoolishDIY wrote:

    The point of the discussion seems to be whether the PC will ever go away or even if its sales are going to dramatically drop.

    I want to gaze into my Foolish technology ball and interpret what I see.

    1. The reason that smartphones and tablets are so useful is because there are servers on the other end. The servers deliver e-mail, maps, videos, backend speech recognition, etc. If you didn't have

    them, there would be no smart mobile devices.

    2. Servers are largely a variation of PC technology (although there are significant permutations like blade technology). The CPUs can be the same as used in high end-gaming machines. What makes them different is they are usually headless, and dozens of them sit in a rack. The thousands of racks of servers are what make Google, YouTube, Yahoo, or Amazon AWS what they are. They are also at the

    heart of the nation's fastest supercomputers. They have an enormous energy footprint, and making a carbon neutral server farm is a major challenge.

    3. Some smartphones already have HDMI capability in the form of MHL-HDMI (MHL = Mobile High-Definition Link). This means you can] plug it into your HDTV. This is already in consumer hands, but a lot of people just might not know they have it. (If you have a Samsung phone, it's worth checking out.)

    4. It is true that your vacuum machine or washing machine probably compute, but not like smartphones and tablets, which are architectually very similar to PCs and servers. They have at least 32-bit CPUs, demand paged memory, and can host a variety of applications. They also usually come with a fairly powerful graphics accelerator on the chip as the CPU, which makes sophisticated games and flight simulators possible. No one would do that to a vacuum machine or washing machine because it will add $100 or $200 to the price tag for questionable added functionality.

    5. So what should we expect about personal computers in the home or business? In my estimation, the personal computer has to lose it head. That is, no display. Its function will be to serve up information to mobile or large screen devices on the same network. It might not even have a keyboard, which may become an adjunct to the mobile device. PCs for high-end first-person games may be replaced by large screen TVs that come with powerful graphics accelerators the way PCs and smart mobile devices have them now. Because they will be stationary and plugged into a power outlet, these can be more powerful than the ones currently in PCs. In effect, PCs will be replaced by distributed computing elements

    including one or more servers, advanced rendering display, and personal smart devices that accept keyboards, joysticks, etc.

    I don't know why this hasn't happened yet. There seems to be an aversion to headless home servers. And yet, there is nothing technically impossible about it. When then they and advanced graphics-accelerated HD display happen, the PC will be dead.

  • Report this Comment On February 05, 2013, at 3:53 AM, twistersibo wrote:

    I look at it this way:

    - PC market is not growing anymore - other device are occupying the time of the customer

    - PC will stay - mainly for serious business

    - if I want to develop something exciting for my customers: PC is not the most important device anymore

    - I have to get familiar with the new technology and do not need to pay that much attention to the PC anymore

    - the new devices will gain even more attention of the consumer once they will be even more powerful

    For me as an ecommerce specialist it is very important to see this development so clearly now. I have to shift the focus rather today than tomorrow.

  • Report this Comment On February 05, 2013, at 6:58 AM, altohorn60201 wrote:

    Tablets and "smart" phones are toys. One works on a PC. I have all three but theone I could not get along without is a PC.

  • Report this Comment On February 05, 2013, at 7:48 AM, balij wrote:

    Dell, HPQ,AMD hit hard by the debacle of PC companies . One thing I have not understand yet is that what Micheal Dell want to achieve as a private company . He needs to understand PC Company as a whole is Gone.

    I think Micheal Dell should better be watch this rather than making deals of Billions of dollars in a failed company.

    http://wallstnews.blogspot.com/

  • Report this Comment On February 05, 2013, at 8:15 AM, MrFinance223 wrote:

    Your premise is that these other computing devices are replacing the PC. However, the way I see it, they are merely complementing the PC. These ancillary devices offer a way to make PC computing and Internet connectability portable! Each of these devices has a primary use and will ultimately co-exist with each other.

  • Report this Comment On February 05, 2013, at 9:00 AM, KerMor wrote:

    I don't understand all this fuss about PC vs Tablet vs Smartphones... They are the same things!!! Personal Computing device! Just a smaller, more dedicated version of each others.

    To add to this point, most of these devices involve the same skill-set from manufacturers. Where it gets interesting is the market share of each of its components: CPU: was Intel / AMD?, now ARM, Intel, NVIDIA, ?; Software: was Micro$oft, now Android, M$, ... and I could go on.

    I am wondering if you showed a modern netbook (today considered as a PC, because it run Window$) to a mainframe PC user in the 80's, would he have considered it a PC? ;)

  • Report this Comment On February 05, 2013, at 9:30 AM, fvgetcom wrote:

    I agree with Predarek; it used to be that you had to replace your PC every 2 years or so, because their capabilities increased so much in that time. But now, the computers we got in 2007 and 2009 are still serving us just fine & offer plenty of power.

    But nobody would think of using a smart phone from 2007; smartphones are still making strides and need to be frequently updated.

    Also, computers used to be thought-of as a one-per-family purchase...or maybe one for the adults and one for the students. Now every man, woman and child uses a computer...and not just for business or homework. The addition of children and teens into the equation is huge...in sheer numbers alone...not to mention the fact that kids won't accept an outdated model just because it's still functional. To keep from being ridiculed at school, they need to have a model of smartphone or tablet that's in style...which means that devices meant for younger people will ALWAYS need to be replaced quickly, like clothing or shoes.

    But the desktop PC with a nice executive chair to sit in still provides a luxury computer experience, and is still the most useful device for people who need to produce real work.

    And, that's exactly what the majority of comments on this article seem to be saying: the PC will always be an important complement to the smaller devices. I agree.

  • Report this Comment On February 05, 2013, at 11:03 AM, JMi11er wrote:

    Respectfully, this is what happens when CFAs get chart-happy without understanding the actual intricacies involved. I think it's all been said by the previous posters, so I'll just add my support to the overwhelming response that this analysis draws the wrong conclusions.

    For the record - I run a small IT Services company and can state unequivocally that smart devices have not replaced even a since PC at any of our clients. They are supplemental computing devices.

  • Report this Comment On February 05, 2013, at 1:04 PM, binkenhiemer wrote:

    This the difference between a developing market and a mature market. PC's are not growth, but they will continue to be purchased.

    Example, I love my tablet, but I am typing this on my 28" LED on my 6 core 4.6Ghz CPU with 9 other windows open. Sorry, I can't do that on my tablet, THOUGH my tablet and phone go with me everywhere. I also have software on my 7" tablet to remote to my desktop.

    Yes, many people just surf. But most productive people use a keyboard and mouse with a big screen to get things done. That's not going to change.

  • Report this Comment On February 05, 2013, at 1:19 PM, Xrat wrote:

    You're all missing one fundamental arguement...,

    the tablet will never take over unless someone brings out a touchscreen that doesn't get fingerprints left on it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Report this Comment On February 05, 2013, at 5:00 PM, Rolfmeister wrote:

    I agree with the apples and oranges comments. I've been hearing about the decline of the PC vs Apple for decades. Yet the numbers never change. 92-95% use PCs and 5-8% use Apple. And for those that think an iPad or iPhone will replace the PC, I've got a bridge to nowhere I'd like to sell you. So, if your idea of fun is cranking out reports on a device that needs several external devices plugged in to make it useful or wish to slog back and forth using an onscreen keyboard, that's up to you. And good luck explaining to your boss that it took 4 hours to do 15 minutes worth of work.... Me, I'll take a nice medium sized box that includes all the devices I'd ever need to make it a useful workhorse for 5 years +/-. Not to mention that you can modify it to the demands of an ever changing world. My daughter fell for the iPad 'must have' trap and it mostly sits on her coffee table. The iPad is a great toy for showing off your pictures and other media and perhaps the world's largest multimedia thumb drive. The iPhone is a great communication tool that is invaluable for it's purpose. But my my PC is always at the ready under my desk where it will stay.

  • Report this Comment On February 05, 2013, at 7:07 PM, JadedFoolalex wrote:

    Sorry, Evan, but you can't give Industrial PCs short shrift when they make up virtually 99% of computers used for Mills, Refineries, Chemical Plants and the millions of other industrial and commercial businesses that use PCs. The reason they use PCs...NO One writes commercial and Industrial programs for Apples or Linux or.......! Therefore, your theory that PCs are dead is premature by a few centuries, I'd say.

  • Report this Comment On February 06, 2013, at 1:25 AM, joemas wrote:

    It is interesting how we tend to believe what we want to believe.

    1. Each of the devices mentioned have specific functions. phone for contacting someone, pad simple search and social networking, and PC COMPUTING, while simultaneously all hold more music than you had on all the records, cassettes and tapes, or CD that used to play on your Victrola, HiFi, 8 track, walkman or compact disc player.

    3. Someday the real computer killer will come along but the electric typewriter did not kill the typewriter it just made it different. The word processing computer finally did away with the ink ribbon, but the idea is still the same with added device we call a printer.

    4. I would hate to think about writing documents on a cell phone or tablet.

    5. How would you do your income tax without a spread sheet? What about the Slide Ruler? For Physics, I had one that was about 3 inches wide and nearly 20 inches long becasue it was easier to read to get an approximate answer.

    6. The PHONE has changed in my 60 years. My great Aunt lived on a farm in upstate NY. She had a phone that had a crank on it and you had to get an operator to actually make your call on a switchboard with a partyline. Then the dial phone and the button phone came and went, replaced by the wireless multiple station phone systems with a single base station. Many are replacing land lines with VOIP or cell phones. Still it is a phone that we use to connect to other people. Some people say the cell phone is cooking are brains with radiation, but it still is alive as a phone. The phone and the computer are still alive and it is going to take something that is currently only in "Jobian" minds, to actually kill their functional form.

    6. The number of PCs seems to be constant. After years of saturating the market with PC it has reached a steady state. I built a Sinclair many years ago and hooked it up to a cassett player and an old Black&White TV. I had to make punch cards to run a statistical program on a card reading computer for my graduate project. Now I have a laptop hooked up to a docking station using my old desktops monitor as a second screen so I can do more work in less time, but it is a computer that helps me review documents and run spread sheets and not a tablet or smart phone. Changing but not DEAD.

    Fool on.

  • Report this Comment On February 06, 2013, at 2:35 AM, FoolishDIY wrote:

    Ah well, "joemas" makes an interesting observation.

    Is the electric typewriter dead, or is it just different? Personally, I consider it to be dead.

    Is the PC dead yet? No.

    Can a tablet eventually kill the PC? Not on its own. People miss that the smartphone and tablet are highly dependent on a server somewhere.

    There is also the issue of killer app that runs almost equally well on the tablet as it does on the PC. It doesn't have to be perfect. (People accept MP3 sound in place of hi-fi.)

    I think the killer app will be a spreadsheet on the tablet. Not Google Drive (formerly Google Docs), which uses JavaScript and browser style sheets. It needs to be a native app that uses the windowing toolkit of the tablet itself. That will then run fast and look very crisp.

    Beyond that, there are issues of the keyboard and screen. MS Surface recognizes the external keyboard. I don't know if anyone implements extended (not mirrored) display on the HD port of a tablet. If they do, then the argument of the tablet having too small a screen will slowly fade away.

    I don't expect a tablet to carry around the same secondary storage as a PC. 32 or 64 GB is a lot, but it's not like the 320 GB, 500 GB, or 1 TB disks that I am seeing for PCs. A storage server in the home then makes sense. Actually, this almost exists today in the form of a home media server.

    The PC is not dead yet. The ecosystem for the new distributed computing system in the home has not taken root yet.

  • Report this Comment On February 06, 2013, at 4:12 AM, Pietrocco wrote:

    Evan,

    As pointed out by several other readers, you are comparing apples with oranges (pardon the punt!).

    Unless you believe that we will be able to efficiently use a smartphone for work (or just to write a simple word file!) any time soon, your comparing growth rates for smartphones vs pcs is pointless.

    The explosion in air travel over the last 50 years has not had such a detrimental effect on cars sales, has it??

    Two different machines, for two different markets.

    BTW, Windows 7 has been the best seller EVER for Microsoft, and W8 will outsell its predecessor.

    Gets your facts, and analysis, right.

  • Report this Comment On February 06, 2013, at 1:52 PM, chris1eil wrote:

    Sometimes an idea is so silly, but most people just don't realize it. Most people get "fooled" easily. And this one is a perfect example.

    PC stands for personal computer. Before smartphones, people used PCs to do everything, including making phone calls. Now, after some of the PC functions were separately designed into smartphones and tablets, people carry them around and perform those functions everywhere they go.

    The truth of the matter is that both smartphones and tablets are simply stripped down miniature PCs. Or put in other words, the smartphones and tablets are really the different forms of PCs.

    So, the truth is that PCs are not only alive well, but they also have grown into different formats to better serve people's needs. PCs have become specialized devices.

    I bet the author didn't write his article on a smartphone now a tablet.

  • Report this Comment On February 06, 2013, at 2:00 PM, WhidbeyIsland wrote:

    The real bottleneck is the human brain. Years ago science fiction writers spoke of enhanced "wetware," implants that will enhance our memory, processing power, ability to communicate, and our ability to perceive the outside world. We have barely touched that potential as we integrate ourselves with artificial intelligence to evolve ourselves into something no longer human.

    I am old enough that I am almost "out of here," but my nine year old granddaughter will eventually be a creature I would no longer recognize.

  • Report this Comment On February 06, 2013, at 2:05 PM, chris1eil wrote:

    By the way, does a tablet cost less than a PC? A very good PC nowadays cost less than the best tablet. I can build a very fast PC with tones of software for about $350. But I can't get the high-end tablet for that money.

    I would rather have a good laptop than the best tablet.

    Also, a tablet with a detachable keyboard. Man, what is with that idea? It's just so wrong to me.

  • Report this Comment On February 06, 2013, at 2:46 PM, BigBopper66 wrote:

    As many have stated, you're comparing apples to oranges. That, and your charts prove nothing more than the PC market is stable and the smartphone/tablet market is growing.

    One thing that you should also consider is life cycle. I work in the IT field, including owning my own PC repair/consultation company. Most of the PCs that I work on predate your charts, and many are close to a decade old. Any PC purchased in the last few years can expect a life cycle of greater than 5 years. What is the life cycle of a typical smartphone? Usually 2 years max, the same as the contract with your carrier. Also, you have to consider replacements. When was the last time that you lost your PC? ...dropped your PC in the toilet? ...your PC got run over in the parking lot? This is something that also pushes sales of smartphones and tablets.

    The smartphone and tablets are not replacing PCs. They are replacing PDAs (remember them?), which was not included at all in your charts. I have not had a single client say that they are replacing their PC with a tablet or smartphone.

  • Report this Comment On February 07, 2013, at 7:56 AM, RNML wrote:

    The two graphs combined show that the computing device market is exploding and that PC's in the shape of laptops and desktops have reached a plateau in overall market volumes.

    Microsoft Surface and Windows 8 tablets will change the landscape dramatically. Every business user will choose the nicest phone they can [Apple/Samsung] but will increasingly pick the Windows 8 tablet as the mobile computing solution over the Apple iPad or equivalent Samsung tablets for the simple reason of inter-operability with the Microsoft desktop and server world.

  • Report this Comment On February 07, 2013, at 4:48 PM, StreetWiseReport wrote:

    how is anyone comparing replacing a PC with a mobile device or tablet? Who works 100% off their phone or ipad? This entire article and the charts don't make sense, you're comparing apples to oranges

  • Report this Comment On February 08, 2013, at 1:12 PM, fordretiree wrote:

    What only one person has mentioned is "the cloud".

    All the computing power will be in the cloud and the smart phone or tablet will just be the connecting device.

    As far as screen size goes projection, glasses, or even holograms will be used.

    Buy one thousand PC's for your employes or one mainframe and one thousand I phones, that your employes need anyway.

    It will be fun to watch and see.

  • Report this Comment On February 08, 2013, at 1:16 PM, L2J wrote:

    PC's are still needed, sales definitely flat, however, I'm a printed circuit board designer. I need my desk top and/or laptop to design the circuit boards that go into ipads, smartphones, etc. Not much of an investment opportunity true but not don't erect a tombstone...

  • Report this Comment On February 08, 2013, at 1:29 PM, NickD wrote:

    Would love to see a tablet or phone load or run anything faster/smoother than my PC

  • Report this Comment On February 08, 2013, at 5:54 PM, edshire1 wrote:

    I believe that most of the comments made here are by people who's main use of pc is keeping track of their investments. After all, why else would they be subscribing to the MF. And I think most business's are going to continue to rely on pc's.

    But I believe that there are millions of folks whose purchases of pc's were for email , searching, listening to music, seeing pictures of their grandchildren. . I think that a good many of them will feel that the smart phone or tablet is more than adequatefor for their needs.

  • Report this Comment On February 08, 2013, at 7:31 PM, bornboring wrote:

    To FoolishDIY, Screenless computer is already in the market for a couple of years, known as Zbox. Recently Intel is selling a slightly bigger version using their i3 CPU. The latest smartTV put it inside the TVbase, so you can say the smart TV is also a PC.

    The various formats represent efforts to keep things portable, with certain compromises. The smallest computer, raspberry pi, is not popular because it compromises too much, yet not cheap enough to be a "premium" item which can be given away.

    The attempt to miniaturization is to turn the whole experience of power in one's hand, a remote control, a magic wand. I think that day is approaching. The smartphone will act as a connecting device to store secured routing information (from the cloud) which can then be shown on any nearby screen. The tablet is a smartphone with a page sized screen. These will eventually disappear. The main workstation (desk top) will stay, because it is upgradable. The laptop is a system-in-a-bag, it is an alternate to those with simpler demand on processing.

    The real discussion of this pc market development should focus on the usage in relation to demographics, and on the needs of our brain functions.

  • Report this Comment On February 09, 2013, at 12:14 AM, OldVNWarrior wrote:

    One chart I never saw was "Computations/device"

    Sure you can show that they sell more potato chips than potatoes, but how many people get fed???

  • Report this Comment On February 09, 2013, at 2:35 AM, BlueBoomerHD wrote:

    PC sales have leveled because they are ubiquitous; everybody that wants, and some who wouldn't if not for their job, have at least one. Folks aren't buying the new PC craze (cause it ain't new), but they're replacing existing inventory as they feel it is needed. The PC is going strong cause owned/user inventory is huge, and replacement continues unabated.

    Increasingly portable processing capacity found in intelligent devices currently supplement a PC. Once the capacity of intelligent devices equals or exceeds PCs they'll effectively become PCs.

  • Report this Comment On February 09, 2013, at 7:10 PM, zman77708 wrote:

    These devices are ALL PC's...

  • Report this Comment On February 09, 2013, at 7:23 PM, billlindley wrote:

    Since smartphones and tablets are, basically, insatiable consumers of content, where does all this content get created other than with PCs? Sure, you can create cat videos on the smartphone but isn't most more sophisticated content created, directly or indirectly, by computing devices with more function and capacity?

  • Report this Comment On February 09, 2013, at 7:43 PM, Mainepilot wrote:

    I would like to see a chart comparing sales of dumb cel phones to the sale of smartphones. I think that might be more relevant than a chart depicting sales of PC's and smartphones.

  • Report this Comment On February 09, 2013, at 9:23 PM, silverfox70 wrote:

    I just finished building three desktop PC's. The reason why PC sales are flat or down 3.2% is because of the mobility of hand held devices today. But when we are home, I want power, and I want a large screen. My PC's will last a long time because I can upgrade everything in this case for a fraction of the cost of buying online or local retail store. There is a place for all the devices today, but I love my desktop.

  • Report this Comment On February 11, 2013, at 1:57 PM, Ragingmoose wrote:

    Is it the end of Microsoft, the end of Steeve Balmer as CEO or the end of both of them ?

  • Report this Comment On February 14, 2013, at 4:37 PM, miteycasey wrote:

    I think more families are owning all three and since everyone needs a phone that reason iphones can sell 3-1 to PCs.

    Tablets are becoming the same way. We now have 4 iphones, 2 tablets, and 2 PCs in my house. They all get used.

  • Report this Comment On February 18, 2013, at 4:48 AM, punitsjain wrote:

    I still see laptops/ PCs as the place where most workers work, and tablet/ smartphone as where they get and send updates.

    The focus of PC manufacturers should be to allow users to sync better between PC and tablet/ SP. And to allow as much work mobility as possible.

    Smartphones and Tablets may need a long time and big leaps to come close to the usability and processing power of PC/LT. Except for mobile occupations.

    I had an idea long ago

    https://www.facebook.com/notes/punit-jain/a-personal-computi...

  • Report this Comment On February 24, 2013, at 9:35 AM, tbyrd58 wrote:

    Despite 4 smart phones, 2 tablets and 3 laptops, we still have a line at the computer desk where the desktop lives. I can take my laptop anywhere, but the included pointing device sucks and there is never a good place to use the optical mouse. The iPad "keyboard" is worse than the notebook's pointing device. And no one even tries to do anything other that web surfing on the smart phones. I told my wife when the iPad came out, these are going to replace the "play" notebooks that people carry around the house for the web and email but not the serious computing uses at work.

    Humorously, one of the ladies in our office found she could access out accounting application on her iPhone 5. Could she read what was on screen? No.

    Maybe if we re-write our applications but until then.

  • Report this Comment On February 24, 2013, at 10:35 PM, keaters wrote:

    Well, this comment comes from a PC. Aging boomer needs big screen because of failing eyesight and regular keyboard because of klutzy fingers. Also, I'm eating while reading... greasy fingers and touchscreen don't combine so well, stand up screen easier to see across from plate.

    Smart phones are great though. For a family of 4: 2 full size PC's, 8 portable devices in use, several more lying around. Lifetime of a portable`1 year, a PC 2-3 years. So yes, portables will outsell PC`s by units.

    PC is a tool, mobile is a toy. For important calls I always wait until I am home or at office and can use a land line in a controlled environment. Mobile phones are great for certain uses, but most of the time they are a device that allows you to say "what?" anywhere.

  • Report this Comment On April 07, 2013, at 1:08 PM, Questionable2 wrote:

    PC is not dead . It is just having children!

    The real issue at the moment is that there are too many manufacturers for the market. If Dell went private and HP spun off it PC division then the two could combine and make use of their economy of scale. PC will be around as long as intense programs like Photoshop exist. I like to see a computer with two Intel i7 core processors and a Photoshop version that can utilize double dual four core processors.

    Perhaps with all the cyber security threats we may see a PC that doesn't connect to the Internet where all the data needed will be manual loaded after vetting so projects could be done in the US and not be available instantly to China. China is officially banned from the International Space Station because of its techno stealing.

  • Report this Comment On April 19, 2013, at 4:37 PM, RedEsquid wrote:

    A slight variation on the tablet/phone will kill off all of the above - Google Glass is just a hint.

    PC, phone, tablet - all dead.

    With only minor improvements to the image projection technology, we have a HD resizable image, potentially full field of view.

    Now add a bluetooth keyboard and gesture recognition or wireless mouse or virtual touchpad for the old school. ( Camera on glasses provides either gesture/mouse/touchpad capability. No added cost)

    The keyboard is there for those that like the clicky-ness. Otherwise, learn signs and its gone.

    Oh, and this kills the HDTV also. You will have a virtual 100" plus screen.

  • Report this Comment On April 26, 2013, at 6:14 PM, DamianAU wrote:

    This is all really interesting, it has completely avoided any actual analysis of the most material trend line that we need to consider:

    - When does a Tablet become a PC?

    Apples most significant contribution to the Tablet space, was to commoditise the device at a retail consumer led price point.

    Price is actual the critical factor here for the retail consumer market, so Performance and Content Creation we're sacrificed. All prior entries, MSFT, HP/Compaq etc. into this space had failed as the price point was $1500+ not $500...

    Based on what I'm seeing at the moment, this will start to swing during the course of this year. What we'll start to see are fully functional Content Creation Tablet devices at around the $350-500 USD mark (Netbook, iPad price point...). These will come either with a detachable keyboard or with a dock so you plug it in and off we go with all the bells and whistles(USB, HDMI etc.). They will run Windows 8 and the majority of them will have an Intel processer.

    As background, I'm a long time fan of Tablets I got my first one in Nov 2004 a HP/Compaq and only brought my 2nd one in Dec of 2011 a Samsung i5 Slate, which I use as my work Tablet/Slate(thankfully they are now less than half the price they started out at), so I've watched this market segment with extreme interest and not a little derision over the last few years since the iPad was released.

  • Report this Comment On April 22, 2014, at 12:31 PM, thiagorulez wrote:

    I'm a bit confused. For one, there are several charts here, rather than one simple chart. And they all seemed to show positive trends, with significant fluctuations, but positive, except for one. I seriously doubt that the PC is going to "die" overnight. Thiago | http://computerrepairoftemecula.com/services/

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