The future of the desktop PC

Is the PC dead? Invented in 1960s, the PC is facing a fierce wave of disruption and whether it will survive or not is a huge debate of these days.

Recent advances in technology and the introduction of new trends such as mobile technologies and cloud computing have put the future of PCs on stake. Smart phones are equipped with the processing power to run applications originally built for PCs. However, new technology trends including big data and its associated analytics tools might be rescue boat for some time as they rely heavily on high processing power offered by PCs.

Why this topic now?

A recent Gartner report discussed the decline in the sales of PCs and expects it to continue through at least 2016. It’s also worth mentioning is that the decline isn’t homogeneous across regions and different vendors show different numbers. The strengthening US dollar, end of Windows XP support, and Windows 10 launch played role on the decline.

Gartner isn’t the only analyst to report this decline. In 2014, IDC reported a similar decline not only in the sales of the PCs but also in its usage, desktops in particular. End users were faster than enterprises to switch to modern mobile computing devices. This trend was also reported back to 2013 where IDC predicted the decline in PCs sales which would last till 2017.

But is decline in sales a good enough measure to decide on this topic? The decline in sales essentially indicates that that the market is not only dominated by PCs, but that there are other strong and competitors, such as tablets and smart phones.

There are still supporters of the PC who largely believe it will survive and that desktop PCs are still needed for several reasons: despite the competitive technology trends, PCs still offer particular unbeatable features including display, processing power, scalability, storage, availability and accessibility. But it is likely the PCs will not stand the competition as the new mobile devices offer some advantages over the traditional PCs in terms of usability, security, portability and sold at much less prices.

How should vendors respond to these rapid changes?

While traditional desktop computer are still needed to serve particular purposes, the mobility remains as a strong future trend. PC survival will likely be in the continuity of laptops and notebook.

Lenovo for example is looking into new technologies and targeting emerging markets. Lenovo CEO said that the “the future PC is not the past PC.” Smart phones and tablets are driving the revenue streams and growth is highly correlated to its success in current and new market.

Avram Piltch wrote on how to save the PC industry by the laptop product line. In order to encourage consumers move to laptops, manufacturers should pay attention to factors such as price, design, screen resolution, battery life, enhancing users’ data entry experience.

The future of PC

Moore’s law is in favour of the assumption that smart phones are to replace PCs where the processing power of today’s PCs could be substituted by smartphones supported by the cloud.

Also, as we witness new inventions at high rates, it is expected that newer models, such as Intel’s Next Unit of Computing (NUC) is a practical replacement for the desktop PC serving particular purposes such as banking sector where security and data protection is highly desired.

Regardless of which side you support, the future of PCs might be something we have known such as tablets, or something evolving such as smart phones, or some new innovation such as Intel’s NUC.

The reality here is that we live in a world of continuous disruption and whether the PC is dead or not yet is a matter of time. The industry is changing rapidly and all stakeholders should be ready to cope with this change. Personal and minicomputers disrupted the mainframe and pushed it out of the market. Today smart phones and other hand-held devices are disrupting the personal computer world.

Your contribution and opinions are highly welcomed within the context of this discussion.

You can find more about this topic at the recap of the recent #CDNchats on Twitter about the death of the PC.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada
Tamer Marzouk
Tamer Marzouk
A management consultant, with 18 years of experience in diverse capacities, Tamer Marzouk began his career as an IT professional. Marzouk is an author, speaker, and lecturer. Marzouk holds MBA and M.COMP degrees with research focused on change management and human behavior in ERP implementations.

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