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

May 7, 2013
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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.

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