FRANCISCO--Media tablets like Apple Inc.'s iPad and its competitors
accounted for one in three personal computer shipments in the fourth
quarter of 2012, according to a market research firm that lumps tablets
into the broader PC category.
shipments of traditional desktop and notebook PCs have been falling
steadily in recent quarters, tablet shipments have been growing at an
impressive clip. According to Canalys Ltd., an independent analyst firm,
total PC shipments--including tablets--grew 12 in the fourth quarter to
reach 134 million units.
of traditional PCs contracted last year for the first time since 2001
as more consumers opted to buy tablets, which are generally less
expensive and better suited for mobile computing.
to Gartner Inc., which like most research firm tracks tablet and PC
sales separately, worldwide PC shipments totaled 90.3 million units in
the fourth quarter, down 5 percent from the fourth quarter of 2011.
to Mikako Kitagawa, a principal analyst at Gartner, tablets have
dramatically changed the landscape for PCs, not just by cannibalizing PC
sales but also by prompting PC users to shift consumption to tablets
rather than replacing older PCs.
as once we imagined a world in which individual users would have both a
PC and a tablet as personal devices, we increasingly suspect that most
individuals will shift consumption activity to a personal tablet, and
perform creative and administrative tasks on a shared PC," Kitagawa
With sales of iPads being lumped into Canalys's PC category, Apple was the
leader in the fourth quarter, shipping 27 million iPads and accounting
for more than 20 percent of the market for the first time, according to
the research firm. Hewlett-Packard Co., which shipped 15 million PCs,
was the second-ranked vendor, beating China's Lenovo Group Ltd. by
200,000 units, according to Canalys (Palo Alto, Calif.). Both HP and Lenovo held about 11
percent of the total market, according to the firm.
Inc.--which announced Tuesday (Feb. 6) plans to go private through a
leveraged buyout--continues to fade in the PC market, Canalys said. Dell
shipped only 9.7 million PCs in the fourth quarter, down 19 percent
from the fourth quarter of 2011, the firm said.
direct business model is "expensive and unsuitable for driving growth
in new markets," Canalys said. "A turnaround in fortunes is likely to
Canalys said its analysts believe the planned buyout would give Dell time
to rethink its strategy and refocus, away from the demands of Wall
Street and shareholders. Related stories:
I think that when people say the PC is "dead", what they really mean is the PC market stagnant and begining to shrink. Companies and software developers want to be where the growth is, which is not PCs right now.
Laptops/notebooks and tablets have different use cases.
Tablets are media consumption devices. They are essentially half-duplex, with a UI optimized for choosing what media you want to consume. They're handy if you want to browse the web, read an eBook, watch a video, look at photos, participate in social media, or read and reply to email. They are popular with consumers because they are comparatively cheap, light, easily portable, and web surfing, social media, picture and video viewing, and reading and replying to email are mostly what consumers *do* with computers.
If you do content *creation*, a tablet likely isn't what you use. You almost certainly want a full keyboard, and likely a much bigger screen than a tablet will possess. You don't write a book, create a large spreadsheet, do image manipulation in Photoshop, or edit audio and video on a tablet, nor do you write, edit, compile and debug applications.
While the PC market is stagnant and beginning to shrink, it's hardly going away. All the things you can't do on a tablet still need to be done, and devices are needed to do them. When people claim the PC is dead and tablets are taking over, I ask where to get some of what they're smoking.
First iPhones and now iPads supplement laptop computers for mobile applications. Are there any statistics on how many people use an iPad alone without a computer? Are all of them "light" computing users who only want email, web browers, social media, electronic document readers, and games?
Part of this phenomena is the fact that most users'
PCs are simply powerful enough. Even for professional work, they're probably ok. You might need a new PC for mechanical CAD, maybe for EE CAD if you're doing way too much FPGA floor planning or PCB autorouting. Video work's a big one... PCs are never fast enough, but that's still a niche. I needed a memory upgrade a year ago for some hardcore photo work (image compositing), but my three-year-old 6-core CPU was still fine.
Meanwhile, the tablets are fun, cheap, and sometimes actually useful. I stopped carrying a laptop to most things, replacing it with an Android tablet (does have a keyboard option). No, I can't edit schematics or draw PCBs on this tablet.. but that didn't work well on the laptop, either. My last few jobs have been Linux-centric, so there's no need for MS-Office; if you don't absolutely need that, there are plenty of office tools just dandy on a tablet... that's not remotely a heavy lifting job these days. I wouldn't use the tablet as a desktop replacement, but it's superior as a note-taking device in an all-day meeting (had one last week that went 11.5 hours, the Transformer had enough juice left for the 3 hour ride back home).
The installed base of PC's is projected to be 2.3 billion in 2015. Given a sales rate of 360 million units per year, that implies a 6.4 year product life. This seems like a reasonable number, I have seen PCs stick around for a decade before being scrapped as too old.
I see the sales trend as indicating the PC market is maturing. The hardware is not improving so fast that you need to replace it to stay on the cutting edge. Instead people are tending to keep them till they break, and sales are more reflecting replacement than market growth.
I agree. The Tablet market is mostly for people who used laptops for more frivalous uses. After the demand for information portals is filled, you will still have a large base of installed PC systems providing the bulk of the worlds basic business tasks. In the end, your computer needs to do useful things. I need a word and excell variant to do my work. I have yet to see a tablet that fills that need with a keyboard big enough for my fat fingers. So I will be sticking to laptops and desktop PC's for the seeable future.