Analyst claims tablet shipments will rise above PC by year’s end. Is this further proof that the PC is dying?

by: Andrew GrushMay 7, 2013


We’ve known for a while now that PC sales are in a major slump, while mobile devices like tablets and smartphones continue to see a dramatic increase in sales. Now it looks like tablet shipments will soon rise above the PC for the first time, at least if analyst Sameer Singh of BitChemy Ventures proves correct.

According to Singh, tablet shipments will rise to almost 80 million units in the 4th quarter of this year. In contrast, PCs will continue to decline, falling between 70 and 75 million units. That’s the best case scenario, according to the analyst. His worst-case scenario suggests that by 3rd quarter of this year, PC shipments could drop to as little as 65 million devices, while tablets ship over 75 million.

“These shipment estimates could be affected by the pace of of low cost tablet penetration in emerging markets and any changes to the Windows 8 operating system.” “However, given the scale of the figures, I can say with confidence that quarterly tablet shipments should overtake those of PCs by late 2013.”

We hear this line of talk all the time. The PC market is seeing a continued drop in sales. People are using the smartphone and tablet over their PC. It all means that in a few years the personal computer will be dead as a doornail, right?

Galaxy Note 8 vs Nexus 7 vs iPad mini aa (4) -600px

The PC is dying. Or is it?

When most folks define a PC, they seem to simply think of desktops and laptops.

So how do you define a PC, what is it? Is a computing device that has a keyboard and mouse/trackpad? Is it a device that has interchangeable components, or perhaps something that runs on an x86 processor?

Merriam-Webster defines a PC as “a general-purpose computer equipped with a microprocessor and designed to run especially commercial software (as a word processor or Internet browser) for an individual user.” Therefore, the tablet and smartphone are arguably just another class of the PC, just like the desktop and laptop.

Hell, (by definition) smartphones are probably even more of a personal computing device than a desktop, since you generally have multi-user accounts with your computer, but your phone remains locked down to just one user.

As technology continues to evolve, we will see further blurring of lines between the types of PCs.

There will be full-touch interfaces that have no keyboard and mouse. There will be “wearable computers”, including Google Glass. We will also possibly see Android push further into desktop and laptop territory, alongside Chrome OS devices. Multi-function computers like tablets that plug into PC docks will also possibly continue to gain traction as time passes on.

Right now, tablets and smartphones are exciting, fresh and new. Despite Microsoft’s best (or worst?) efforts to refresh the way we think about PCs with Windows 8, the laptop and desktop market is becoming tired in its current form. It is a no-brainer that the end result would be a decrease in sales.

Five or ten years from now, though? It’s possible that less folks will own traditional desktop or laptop but smart televisions, wearable computers, tablets, smartphones and other computing devices will continue on. More than likely, desktops and laptops will still be there as well, just perhaps more as secondary device, with more “personal” personal computing devices taking their place for day-to-day use.

So the bigger question isn’t if the PC is dying, but instead if Microsoft’s stranglehold over the PC market is finally lessening, allowing it to evolve. The answer to that, at least in my humble opinion, is yes.

Microsoft, and to a lesser extent Apple and Microsoft’s vendors, have long been the driving forces in the PC market. With Google’s Chromebooks and Android devices, this just isn’t the case anymore. The PC is not dead, has merely transcended the forms of old and started branching out in new and exciting ways.

These are exciting times we live in folks, simple as that.

  • williamworlde

    I love repeating myself just like (technology) writers love sensationalism.

    How is the PC dying just because another form of communication is now available? Heck, maybe the smartphone will die pretty soon too as tablets are taking over! Despite your misleading headline, your article is thought-provoking.

    I still need my PC to do “real” work when I go onsite. A tablet doesn’t provide me with the computing power nor the array of ports I sometimes need. But, that is not always the case. I do want a 1lb. tablet because although my new laptop is <3lbs., sometimes it's an overkill for the job at hand.

    We are simply being provided with an array of tools for our various needs. The PC is morphing into tablets, i.e., it's reinventing itself, and tablets may just become more PC-like, obviously with all the benefits minus the drawbacks.

    Finally, contrary to what many people think/say, Microsoft still rules the productivity – and maybe non-productivity too – computing world. Just imagine world-wide PC sales dropped 14% because ONE company produced an OS that people just don't favour! Hmmm…..

    • Andrew Grush

      I apologize if you felt that the title was misleading.

      Furthermore, I agree the PC is not dying. It is continuing to evolve, and I agree with the sentiment that a tablet is more of a supplemental device for most folks than a primary one.

      Anyhow, thanks for sharing your opinion, it was an interesting read in and of itself, and great food for thought. Thanks for reading as well. :)

    • Greg Cardall

      Not to mention the needs have changed. Most people I’ve built PC’s for typically want to surf the web and check email. For DECADES, the main path given to those people was the only thing available: A Desktop PC.

      So I think, more than anything, what we’re seeing is a shift of all those same people now being able to simply buy a cheaper phone/tablet to do the exact same thing a PC accomplished for them for the last 20 years. There will always be the need for PC’s, IMO. I’m a DBA by trade – and as the market stands today, I can’t fully and efficiently do my job without a workhorse PC and 3 monitors. :D I don’t see that changing in the near future…well, unless Microsquash completely starts tanking it’s OS’es and doesn’t take any queues from Google. (Shameless plug, but it’s true!)

  • MasterMuffin

    PC isn’t dying, it’s just becoming smaller and more personal. And to the part where he said that phones don’t have multiple user accounts: mine has thanks to 4.2.2 and custom roms! One for me with security lock and one for “guests” with limited functionality :)

    • Andrew Grush

      I agree, MasterMuffin. That’s why I said at the end of the article, it isn’t really dying, it is simply evolving. If anything, next-gen PCs will be much more “personal” than desktops and laptops ever were. As for me, I couldn’t see myself without a desktop, largely because I hate tiny screens (have a 23-inch monitor).

      As for your phone having multiple user accounts– you are right, it is certainly possible to make them multi-user capable, though personally I don’t like giving my phone out to others.

      Anyhow, thanks for reading. :)

      • MasterMuffin

        Yea I know you said it, just wanted to say my opinion which was the same as yours :)

        And I don’t like giving my phone to strangers either, but there are times when it doesn’t matter what I think :(

      • Tony Stark

        One new device offering sort of the best of both worlds is a Hybrid Android tablet that launches in May — the Hummingbird PX103 – by Aocos Electronics, which offers a “Transformer style” 10-inch device. The Hummingbird includes a snap-on hard cover that reconfigures as a mini-laptop with keyboard, and one of the first sites offering it is T a b l e t S p r i n t for $239.

        It has one of the latest Quad Core processors (Rockchip RK3188 1.6 GHz / Mali-400MP4 GPU/2GB DDR3) 16GB Memory, a 10- inch high resolution HD (1280×800) IPS screen, Bluetooth (works with built-in keyboard), front Webcam and 5 MegaPixel rear camera, HDMI 1080p, a 7000 mAh battery, Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean, Google Play store preinstalled, and is compact and ultra-thin, with a 9.6mm profile and weight-wise comes in at 1.4 pound. A 3G edition with Voice calling and Data Internet is expected in June. T a b l e t S p r i n t also offers a promotion with Bonus Apps including the popular 3D game Shadowgun and an Office Suite with Word, Excel, and PowerPoint–

  • Alu Zeros

    If the surface pro gets better battery life and hardware space + includes gps, then I’m in and probably won’t ever need a laptop. However, till then I’ll continue to use a macbook air, or until Apple comes out with an ipad / macbook air combo

  • Will Stewart

    I’ve tried to do everything I do daily on my PC on my phone with success – but my experience was very fatigue. Doing everything on one small device is very boring & depressing. That is why I don’t think the PC is dying. Sales maybe be falling, but I think it’s because people have a choice between a new PC or a first tablet – many people will choose first tablet and keep their PC’s longer.

    My next PC is a Chromebook, because I don’t like Microsoft and realistically almost everything I do on my PC is within Google Chrome.

  • Ruzveh

    Well to be honest every household has a PC and comon we actually cannot do without our PC’s. PC will never die. Infact we rely on our PC when we need to connect our Phones & Tablets then whether its charging or syncing or taking backup’s. I do all my multimedia stuffs on PC when i am at home because i prefer the larger screen and roaring big sound.. Gaming is what we all play and on PC the fun is trippled

  • Roberto Tomás

    normally I’d agree with the article and just about every comment, to the effect that the PC isn’t dying it is just that computing is changing. But in this case there’s a decent argument here… the tablet is still not doing well at all. There are only 2 major tablet makers, and both of them make crappy tablets. Tablets are in their infancy, with thin film displays, sub 20nm/real low power chipsets, and high efficiency batteries still at least a year off. For PCs to fall below tablet sales *now* is a surprise.

  • Dragan Manasiev

    No, it isn’t, cause for office u can’t be same productive on desktop or laptop and on tablet ,same in some gaming especially in FPS and Strategy and more and more other things but that’s my opinion ;)

  • I love my android phone, but it’s not even close to raw power of my desktop. 4.5ghz 3770k & 2x GTX 670 is something no tablet or phone will get close to before 2020.
    The only thing tablets have is portability, nothing else. It’s a toy.

  • My PC has a 32″ sony lcd 3d 1080p SCREEN. I am in front of it 8-10 hours a day.
    My s3 is with me 24/7. I browse the web with it at barely 15min a day.
    I can’t imagine my world without my large, high definition screen around. Yes…tablets and smartphones are just mobile convenience, a travel companion, NOTHING MORE…

  • Justin Rebar

    Computers will always be around. Plain and simple.