A shrinking market of the PC has been the talk of the technology world in the past 18 months, culminating in recent figures outlining only 76 million units sold during the second quarter of 2013; a 10.9% decline from previous years according to a statement from respected research firm Gartner Inc.
PC shipments in Europe, Middle East and Africa were weakened whilst decline in the Asia Pacific region continued from previous figures in the past 5 quarters. Principal Analyst at Gartner, Mikako Kitagawa, implied a multitude of factors contributing to this decline; including to but not limited to:
- inexpensive tablet devices replacing low-end machines in mature markets
- tablet devices being the first device exposed to people in developing markets
- the sharpness of the decline could be attributed to the shift from the mini notebook market to tablet devices
“While Windows 8 has been blamed by some as the reason for the PC market’s decline, we believe this is unfounded as it does not explain the sustained decline in PC shipments, nor does it explain Apple’s market performance…” stated Ms Kitagawa in the release.
The numbers raise several questions in the growth of the professional market, in which mobile consumption devices could legitimately threaten the market position of PCs. There are no solid figures regards how many people use technology such as tablets or mobile devices to write novels, or manage marketing campaigns or any intensive labour task that receives benefits from sheer computation power.
However, an interesting movement – particularly in emerging markets – is the concept of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD). According to independent studies, about 75% of employees in high growth markets – BRICS nations such as Brazil and Russia – and 44% of employees developed markets brought their own device to work.
The concept of BYOD truly emphasises the personal aspect in personal computers; what could be more personal than a device you bring with you anywhere regardless of the current status of employment? With the rise in cloud computing and SaaS (Software as a service) technology in the recent past, this concept has expanded by another order of magnitude in which the device itself is not limiting the workflow of an individual. One person could theoretically produce equal units of work using multiple devices in differing working environments.
Some of the industry alarmists may wax poetic on how this decline in the PC consumption rates spells doom for industry giants such as Microsoft. However, the reality is that it was a bubble that had to eventually burst; recent technological advances were an inevitability. The notion that home PC consumption rates were to remain stable in perpetuity was ridiculous in nature to begin with.
This is not a decline in PC sales. This is regression to the mean.
Because the are more external market forces then there have ever been, it is only to be expected that the true market of home personal computing emerge. That market share is truly a niche one, and as PCs are no longer the only sheriff in town the future of personal computing will be set by the demand of that niche.
It is an exciting future in technology, in particularly with this recent generation of Haswell consumption devices and we are merely at the precipice of our relationship with computers. I mentioned earlier how there isn’t any figures on how many novels or marketing campaigns are done on tablet or mobile consumption devices. The interesting aspect will be when children born in this generation of which these devices are the first point of contact into their foray into technology.
In 2030, would we have a wave of budding novelists or marketing gurus that can type 100 words a minute on their equivalent of a mobile device? Only time will tell.