Is the PC Dead?

August 27, 2015 by Jennifer A. Diffley

The era of home computing may be gone. 2015 marks the fifth year of declining PC sales. And, with the release of Windows 10, PC shipments are expected to continue to decline.

The days of giant PCs are over: no more rumbling, plastic behemoths wedged between piles of floppy disks and a continuous feed printer emitting the sounds of a minor rocket. The march of technology kept its steady pace, and now most homes have new sleek PCs and a decorative plant where the trash compactor-sized CPU used to be. But 2015 marks the fifth year of declining PC sales. And, with the release of Windows 10, PC shipments are expected to continue to decline, as most people are waiting to upgrade their PC until the Windows 10 license runs out in 2017. But even when the renewal window ends, the IDC doesn't see a solid recovery in PC sales until...well, ever.

The new Windows 10 on a laptop.

The reason behind the steady decline is due mostly to the widespread adoption of mobile culture among consumers. The concept of sitting at a home computer is downright peculiar to millenials, most of whom are more familiar with tapping than typing, and if it can't be done on a phone, then the next best thing is a MacBook. PCs have become synonymous with bloatware, bugs, and viruses: why struggle with a computer that is inevitably going to become infected? And why buy a computer when most tasks can be performed on a smartphone?

Businesses are moving away from desktops into either laptops or tablets, and that spells bad news for companies like Intel, which slashed its revenue projection by $1 billion after citing weak PC sales. Other companies are going to shift focus from traditional PC hardware to smaller, smarter processors; in this climate, adaptation is survival.

But that's not to say the PC is gone just yet. Gamers still rely on them for graphics-heavy playing experiences, and many industries use them for performing powerful tasks that a tablet or laptop couldn't handle. The real test will be when 2-in-1s, laptops, and smartphones become as powerful as PCs--and that's just around the corner.

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    euhodos August 27, 2015

    The reason behind declining PC sales is that many (most?) current PC owners are NOT upgrading because:

    (1) the current market fixation on “instant communication” has erupted in operating systems and system designs that favor self-important tubed-tweeters with their constant need to display their latest tat’s, pj’s, or li’l-ones-cute-spitup-piles.  Think I’m wrong?  Try turning off Chat in gMail.  Try using Win 8.
    (2) frankly, most older systems were better made.  No flame-war invite intended, but I’m not impressed with the ALL-SOLDERED-IN components of current laptops.
    (3) frankly, most older systems ran better productivity software.  IMNSHO Office ‘03 was the beginning of the too-feature-rich “suites” which now make it impossible for the user to maintain expertise with their PRODUCTIVITY tools.
    (4) Humanity began communicating using artistry to “decorate” the walls of their caves.  Thus the birth of the icon.  Later came the birth of written communication, so much more efficient and archivable.  Which of these, in this era of Tiles (nothing more than over-sized icons using too much precious screen real-estate) is MORE EFFICIENT?  Again, think Win 8.

    If I want a smart-phone (somewhat of a misnomer, again IMNSHO), I buy one.  I carry it with me.  I TURN IT OFF IN THE COURTROOM, at family gatherings, and when treating a new Date to Dinner and a conversation.  I don’t need it for computing any more than I need a car that will jog for me, or a pet rock that talks or squawks (incessantly), or a virtual trip to a physical courtroom half-way around the world.

    PC sales are declining because the industry is attempting to drive what had been a lucrative market in a direction which many members of that market are CHOOSING not to go.  What I have does what I need.  I’ve seen some mighty fast “texters” on those “smartphone” keyboards but not one I know can hit 100-wpm.  Increasingly, not one I know cares particularly about their productivity, either, given the constant distractions.

    PC sales decline is a SYMPTOM of a disease the industry has brought upon itself.

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  • Jordan BOEKEL August 27, 2015

    Sorry, but this line is just stupid
    “The real test will be when 2-in-1s, laptops, and smartphones become as powerful as PCs—and that’s just around the corner.”
    This is NOT “Just around the corner”. The performance difference between a mobile device and a desktop will always be there-it’s just a fact of life. Desktops are able to use more power for their processors thanks to their increased size and ability to utilise large heatsinks to dissipate that power. A laptop or smartphone will never be able to match the ability of a desktop to remove large amounts of heat.

    Additionally, some things are simply limited by our ability to use them. I would never want to use a smartphone, tablet or laptop for productivity if I could use a desktop. Desktops have larger screens, better keyboards, mice etc, all of which are for better for actually creating things rather than just consuming.

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