Traditional PCs aren’t as appealing to users anymore compared to tablets, which continue to rise in popularity with consumers not only because more and more affordable prices, but because they come bundled with app experiences that make the user’s life easier. The Guardian notes that tablets are now providing for many of our most important computing needs, from media consumption apps such as Netflix and Spotify, to social networking via Twitter and Facebook, to casual (and hardcore) gaming, to business and productivity use.
The Guardian also notes that tablets that have long-lasting battery life and are easy to carry around are preferred by computer buyers rather than the chunkier desktops and laptops that need a desk and power supply. Even Microsoft, the giant of the PC business, was forced to reinvent its Windows business to make it more user- and touch-friendly as well as to start selling its in-house developed tablets that can be converted into laptops.
Apple’s iPad started the tablet revolution in 2010, bringing users a device that’s comfortable to use, fast, and packs a large variety of applications, each one having its distinct purpose. Since then, a wide variety of tablets has been launched, including subsequent iPad generations and very affordable Android devices, leading to what The Guardian calls a “three-second computing” phenomenon that’s uninterrupted by the kind of distractions the PCs provide and which may keep users away from actually doing what they would want to do with a computer.
The mobile boom spearheaded by smartphones and tablets also led to the birth of a new business, mobile app development, which can be very rewarding for developers and for users who benefit from easily installing and using applications on their mobile devices. And app developers care more about revenue streams generated by app stores than they do for PC apps.
In addition to providing anecdotal evidence that shows why tablets are popular with regular buyers and small businesses, The Guardian also offered an interesting example of business use for tablets. The 2012 Greek bailout was reportedly negotiated in 30 days on iPads that were allowed inside banks and ran a preloaded visualization app specifically created for the purpose of negotiating €146 billion of bonds between 135 principal bond owners.
However, while for the average user a PC may no longer be required, professionals still need to rely on powerful machines, such as the freshly released Mac Pro and high-powered Windows laptops from vendors like Lenovo, to get the more complex jobs done. Even though they may be more boring than tablets and smartphones, PCs won’t go away anytime soon. While sales and profits may never return to peak levels, companies will keep making them for many more years.
Research from IDC quoted by The Guardian says that PC shipments will drop by around 10% this year compared to 2012, falling from 349.2 million to 314 million units. By 2017, shipments will continue to fall, settling somewhere at 305 million units. PC sales peaked in 2011 at 361.5 million units, but analysts do not expect such high sales to return even though PCs only have a penetration rate of about 80% in developed countries such as the United States.