With competition from more convenient, less costly mobile computing devices like smartphones and tablets taking its toll on PC sales, will Microsoft's latest Windows operating system help get the PC market on firmer footing?
Worldwide PC shipments are now projected to decline in 2012 for the first time in 11 years, according to market research firm IHS iSuppli. In its latest forecast, released Wednesday (Oct. 10), IHS said it expects PC shipments to decline 1.2 percent this year to 348.7 million units.
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To put this in perspective, the last time PC shipments contracted year-over-year was 2001, the year the dot com bubble burst.
PC shipments are widely expected to get a boost from the release of Windows 8, set for Oct. 26. But it appears unlikely that the release of the new Microsoft operating system will provide enough bounce for the market to avoid contraction this year.
IHS points to a number of culprits responsible for the projected decline, not the least of which is ongoing economic malaise throughout much of the world. But PC shipments appear to be suffering at least in part due to the tremendous growth in smartphones and tablets. In the past two weeks, IHS and others have blamed changing customer preferences brought on by the success of a new kind of mobile computing.
Simply put, tablets and high-end smartphones offer consumers and businesses much of the computing power they need for many tasks. And they are more convenient, lighter, less expensive and, well, more fun than a stodgy old PC.
I used a package called Documents to Go on my old Palm OS PDA to view Word documents and Excel spreadsheets. It was fine for *viewing* and simple edits, but the assumption was the documents would be *created* elsewhere.
Screen size is an issue. The PDA I still have was gotten in part to get a larger screen than the unit it replaces, and do a better job of viewing things like spreadsheets.
Form factor is critical depending upon applications. My cell phone, for example, is the smallest, cheapest feature phone Nokia makes. It has a mono screen and all it does is calls and SMS, which is all I *want* it to do. Web surfing, email, and productivity applications are something else's job.
A tablet might be a decent substitute for a PC, simply because there screen is larger, but I'd want an external keyboard for most of what I do.
BTW, tablets are for consuming content. PCs are for creating content. There will always be more consumers than producers. Until tablets, consumers were forced to use PCs to consume. But the shift is inevitable. More content means more consumers means more content, rinse and repeat...
I am not sure that this readership is representative of the PC / tablet / smartphone debate. I believe that many users can do all they want to do with their smartphone / tablet more convienently than they can irrespective of the operating system. I use windows (xp and xp pro) to create content and find every windows upgrade a pain in the hind end. My wife has stopped using her PC altogether and uses her ipad for all she does. When I use her ipad for reading, I am amazed how much of the screen is available for the task at hand. When I am using xp on my 10" netbook, the screen area for the task at hand is no bigger than a 4x6 card. No wonder we need huge screens with windows.
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