Whereas the birth of tablets led many to speculate the post-PC era (characterized with the demise of the PC) and many industry pundits proclaiming the last days of the legendary PC, now is the time for most to take back their words.
The tablet was poised to be the next big computing device set to replace the ailing PC that often proved bulky, took longer updating cycles and was somewhat pricey. That has now come to be contested since the above is yet to be proven right given the same issues have come to plague tablets. Base tablet models are not that pricey though.
Industry icon, the late Steve Jobs took stage in 2010 and announced the iPad slab to the world in awe as has been the case with previous Apple product launches. It was a refreshment from the tablets many had been accustomed to at the time and revolutionized the way we see and use them. Tablet sales skyrocketed but we all know the iPad took the lion’s share, speculations roamed the air with the PC is doomed headlines. But as fate would have it, after sometime, sales contracted (people held so long on their tablets) , then plateaued, and now they’re taking the dive just like the PCs they’re meant to replace. Well this according to International Data Corporation’s recent stats
Besides the tablets, then came hybrid devices that were neither conventional smartphones nor tablets that took on the ‘phablet’ form factor (My EIC hates that word, forgive me Roger) that vehemently slugged tablet sales and hell broke lose, the once enthusiastic tablet shed growth in favor of these dominant slates.
The whole mobile industry followed suit with Apple being the last in the lot, thanks to the iPhone 6 and henceforth. Sales spiraled, investors became happy, Cupertino hit an all time high but replication of the above success now remains a goal. Smartphone sales are now sluggish with year-on-year declines characterized by them hitting saturation levels in most growth markets.
People are not updating to the latest smartphones as they used to and shipments are on the decline. Why would one upgrade to newer hardware with minimal upgrades when the old one functions just as fine?
However, credit should be awarded to the smartphone by all means since it disrupted the consumer electronics market, challenged the status quo of PC being king and in the process took the crown. It replaced the PC as the first time gadget many relate to, to get to the connected world. It is owned by billions of people and has ushered many to the internet, a sweet spot the now envious PC held.
With that said, let’s get back to the header. Are PCs actually dead?
No should be the answer. Why? It is because of what the aforementioned shakeups that were once threatening PC replacements are going through right now. The PC still stands to this day while the projected doom lingers on. However, concerns have now shifted to tablets & smartphones with many questioning whether they’re running low on innovation given there is nothing new to offer with most iterations that grace retail shelves,a cycle the PC has had to endure amid a backlash in sales that prompted many to innovate beyond the norm.
We now have 2-in-1s, the Microsoft Surfaces of this world. These can be accommodated as laptop-tablet hybrids. You detach the keyboard and there you have it, a tablet!
They’re are now selling in droves with IDC quoting 4.9 millions of them sold in the past 3 months, a never seen before growth figure that only points to the right. Efforts by the likes of Apple’s iPad Pro (touted as a laptop replacement) haven’t stood up against legacy laptops in many areas. If only the iPad Pro had the software say Mac OS sorry OSX that powers their Mac cousins, maybe things would look a little different and the notion that the iPad Pro is indeed a laptop equivalent would stand.
On the other hand I can’t deny that tablets can offer more to challenge the desktop, but their manufacturers need to revise their software approach to give them desktop-grade prowess like the way smartphones did. Now it is the smartphone first, and everything else in between (that is tablets & PCs).
This is why the PC has since been relegated to just a niche market since going mass market remains nostalgic and a thing of the past. They don’t appeal to the masses anymore and now only wow special interest groups. Design professionals like myself are entailed to use PCs, it’s a feeling we hold dear since alternatives haven’t given some of us a reason to switch. I’m a skeptic on whether the iPad Pro can match the raw desktop power required for seamless performance of my CAD software and even if it could, the mouse + keyboard combo is one to beat (accessorise tablets please), add productivity software and adoption, then start answers. Then they’re businesses, gamers, collegiate, video editors among a horde of many.
I as well feel comfortable typing this on a laptop than on a smartphone or a tablet.
Is the PC dead? You can leave us a comment or mini poll below.