The incredible growth of tablet and smart-phone sales over the last year may have you asking how long the traditional Personal computer will last. With many users choosing to use their smart devices over their traditional workstations, and desktop shipments declining by 4.1% and tablets increasing by 78.4% in the last quarter of 2012, along with the recent announcement that Intel is ending its long-standing motherboard business, it may seem the death of the PC is sooner than later. Or is it?
PC use is decreasing while mobile and tablet devices are significantly increasing and many mobile devices match or even surpass the computing power of the average PC of less than a decade ago. But do not expect consumers to give up their laptops quite yet, as many smart-phones and tablets can not yet match the power and ease of use of PCs, or replace every function, especially when it comes to more advanced features beyond browsing such as a photo or video editing, creating spreadsheets or computer programming.
On the business side, tablet and smartphone use within enterprises will unduly increase, and possibly take the lead in share of usage, but traditional PC workstations will still be central to business. However, with the decreased use of PCs, there will be less impetus to replace or upgrade machines.
Tablets, smart-phones, and other devices will continue to be integrated into regular businesses operations, along with their centrally placed PC counterparts. The use of hybrid devices is also on the rise (think touch-screen laptops), combining the power and productivity of PCs with the flexibility and ease of access and mobility of tablet devices. This is most evident when reviewing the shift in operating systems such as Windows 8, which is designed for mobile tablet and hybrid devices in mind. With each new iteration of Operating Systems and devices being designed to accommodate the mobile user, we will continue to see more work being done on mobile devices.
So, while the PC is certainly not dead, it is becoming less dominant as the main device used to perform work based tasks. The growth of a non-homogeneous landscape of various devices- smartphones, tablets, PCs, and hybrids- is becoming integrated into business operations as well as everyday consumer use allowing for more work to be done in more places with more devices. As with any shift in technology, users are helping determine how and what devices they prefer to work on, and the shift is clear. Users are desiring more accessibility, and more freedom to be productive away from their Office PC. With all this being said, however, I think it is safe to say that we are a long way from hearing the bagpipes playing their sad farewell song for the PC.