Why do we even give credence to these wild projections? Three billion devices sold in 2017 to a world-wide population of 7 billion? Maybe my cat is buying one and I don't know it. Then they have 8 billion phones sold over a four year period, like people are going to replace their phone every year? This projection is total garbage.
I find this attitude revolting, where you can throw away a couple hundred bucks every year, filling the landfill, for some shiny object the marketeers want you to buy. To equate EETimes readers to the world population would be a mistake.
A doctor friend of mine in Chicago does this but his old phones are passed down to his sons as part of a family plan (Mom has her own plan, from her work) at the end of each AT&T contract. Dad has a 5, the youngest boy has a 3GS, the oldest boy has a 4S (and the first 3 phone is at the bottom of Lake Michigan).
I have a 2-year contract for my mobile phone here in the UK, because I'm happy not to have the latest, wizziest phone. Many/most people here have 1 year contracts, so get a new phone every year. Given the number of phones in the world is already over 6 billion, there's your 3 billion reached easily:
The projection is realistic. I want a regular tablet and a smaller travel tablet. ERight now, I have none. Tablets will find their way into a lot of office and industrial applications as a smart platform. A cheap smart product with wireless connectivity can be used all over the place.
More nonsensical hype. Let me point out a couple of flaws in this consistent mantra.
The first one is, what are these guys classifying a Surface Pro? No doubt, they call it a tablet. But in fact, it's as much a PC as laptops are. And my constant refrain to this hysteria about PC sales is that unless we become a country of imbeciles, people will continue to need something like a PC, or a Surface Pro perhaps, which they rely on for actual productive work. Yes, including grade school children, these days.
My next comment would be, just like JLB911 points out, that sale of handheld gadgets will amost for sure be greater than sales of PCs. For the same reason that sales of any other household trinket is likely to be far greater than the sale of major kitchen appliances. They are different things. One does not negate the other.
Lastly, my prediction is that what we will see in the coming years are much more portable, perhaps even wearble, PC-like devices. Useful and optimized for a lot more than just consuming information or playing games.
And also the simple fact that tablets are often purchased IN ADDITION TO a desktop or laptop PC; not INSTEAD OF. Desktops do not get lost, stolen, dropped in water or otherwise damaged like portable devices such as tablets do. Doesn't take a genius to see that this will cause more units of one to be purchased than the other.
I totally agree Bert22306. At IC Insights we have classified tablets as PCs from the very beginning while other analysts called them media players, Internet access devices, etc. In fact we have always labeled this category as tablet PCs. As tablets become more powerful, offer detachable keyboards, etc., they are becoming more like traditional PCs. At the other end, we see traditional PCs like Ultrabooks offering the "thinness" of a tablet, touch-screen capability, etc., moving into the realm of features offered by tablets. Yes, today you may be able to differentiate between a tablet and a traditional PC, but two or three years from now, probably not. In our view, they are all PCs.
You call tablets PCs, but are they? A cheap Android tablet has more computing power than a PC had 5 years ago and does a lot more. For many people it replaces the PC as we know it. But given they don't run traditional x86 Windows applications, is it really a PC?
So from that perspective it's quite correct to call the end of the Windows PC era.
If you can do research projects for school or for work, if you can write papers and process photographs, if you can create spreadsheets and write and test software, if you can manage (not just check briefly) your bank accounts and your investment portfolio, if you can do your taxes, on the machine, then in my book it qualifies as a PC.
On the other hand, if you can only do such jobs in a half-*ssed manner on the machine, if at all, or if you only really feel comfortable reading books, or the newspaper, or seeing the local weather report, then I would not classify that machine as a PC. Nor would I expect it to be able to replace the PC. Augment it, sure. But you're always going to have that PC back there, somewhere, unless someone else is doing all the real work for you.
Depends on the tablet, Frank, and on whether it is dockable.
I don't know how other people work, school or actual work, but I've typically got several things open on the PC, and several on the physical desk. And my constant problem is, shortage of display real-estate.
I can't begin to imagine working up a presentation, or a document, or even moving around funds in the bank, when I have half of a tiny screen taken up by a virtual keyboard. How do I jump between documents and betweeen web sites I might be searching? One small item at a time? Like in the DOS days?
A tablet connected to a docking station could certainly do this. And then it would indeed qualify as a PC. The Kindle Fire, for instance, is leagues away from achieving this. So is the iPad.
I'm sorry but I literally busted out laughing at your first sentence. I have two machines here in my office. The real engineering work gets done on the Sun computer that runs Red Hat Linux. The Windows laptop is mostly for checking email and running MS Office applications.
And people will rent Microsoft apps and OSs until they discover that they don't need them. That face-palm moment came to me a couple years ago, and now I run Linux at home on my laptop, & at work. What a relief!
I still use Microsoft at home and work (except we use Linux for developing embedded apps), but I've been sorely tempted to do what you have done, and more than once.
However, does anyone run Linux on their tablet?
To me, "PC" is by no means synonymous with "MS Windows."
The trend toward tablets (huge smartphones) will continue.
It is true a tablet cannot substitute a workstation. But most people do not need the compute power of a workstation. Just look at what most people do with their computers.
1. listening to music
2. social media
3. watching videos
4. web browsing
A tablet is good enough for these tasks and it is
1. mobile (just 1 pound, or even less. I personally do not classify a 3 pound laptop as mobile)
2. easier to use (mostly due to the apps are not (yet?) overcrowded with features)
3. easier to maintain
The data is about new sales and not usage. Even if the PC usage remains stable, eventually new PC sales had to stop growing. And there are plenty of people who have PCs and some who would bever buy one. Those people are buying tablets. And many only need one PC in their household, but want a tablet and/or smartphone per person.
When a list of things that "most people do" on PCs consists of only leisure activities, what it says to me is that the list is not an exhaustive list of their needs. In fact, the list may not even account for the majority of their Internet activities, on any given day. Unless they are retired, and even then I would wonder if it did.
The tablet will only replace the PC when the tablet becomes a PC. Which, of course, the Surface Pro has essentially done. Develop a decent docking station, allow the use of big or multiple monitors, so you can have multiple windows open at the same time, and then you have merely created a more portable PC.
I agree Surface Pro is essentially a laptop replacement. And that is why it won't succeed - it is going to remain a small minority compared with the millions of tablets which are far smaller, lighter, cheaper and offer much longer battery life. Although I'm not an Apple fan, I recently tried out my sister's iPad on holiday and was amazed that I could use it for a few hours of browsing and email a day for almost a week without recharging it. It's a far more portable, always on, unique experience than a laptop. It's so much better to sit on the couch with a light tablet than having to drag a heavy and hot laptop around with charger attached! I hate taking a laptop when travelling so this was a totally new experience. If you haven't tried one, you just don't know...
Most PCs are used for leisure activities, and I expect many to convert to tablets over the next decade. Families with several desktops/laptops will become pretty much extinct - if you're a power user you might just keep 1 PC for heavy work.
Perhaps this debate is the same as the one about battery-powered electric cars. Even if "most of the time" people use cars for distances that may be within battery range, "most of the time" doesn't cover all cases or all (unexpected?) contingencies. Unless battery technology goes through a step increase in energy storage, people will continue to need a gasoline or diesel powered car.
You don't have to be a "power user" to do basic things, like homework assignments, lab reports, banking online, catalog comparisons of that difficult-to-match china you're searching for, etc. etc.
As of today, I would say that tablets are mainly used as a replacement for printed books, printed newspapers, and for the sort of lighweight web searches and texting people would otherwise do on a smartphone. I continue to be think that people get so enthused by these leisure activities that they forget how much they still depend on PCs. Not too different from owners of battery electric cars.
In "Who Killed the Electric Car", Ed Begley Jr. makes the comment: "Electric cars are not for everybody. They can only satisfy the driving needs of 90% of Americans."
What's holding back electric cars nowadays is IMO the high cost, which is mostly because of small-scale manufacturing. Electric cars should be cheaper than fossil-fuel cars because they're so much simpler, and they will be when they're made in as large numbers as fossil-fuel cars. JMO/YMMV
Similarly, tablets can satisfy the computing needs of "only" 90% or so of people as well. Most people want a computer for consuming media, searching the Internet, and occasional e-mail. Tablets easily cover this. Chromebooks capture the next level who want a larger screen and a real keyboard. Only 10% or so need a full laptop or desktop, usually only because they need software that isn't available on a tablet or Chromebook.
I've so far resisted buying a tablet (and by that I mean something like an iPad). I work with a PC which does the big grunt jobs (it has lots of memory) and a Macbook pro which boots fast on its SSD and is used on business trips. So what would I use a tablet for? I'm still not sure.
Seems to me that PCs met the demands of home users in the past because there was no other choice that could do what they wanted to do, which were the things Pica pointed out above. I know many people who just need to check email, Facebook etc. and tablets are just right for them, they don't want the complexity of a PC.
That doesn't mean PCs will go away, they will just end up being used by the people who need more than a tablet. Touch screens are great for simple apps, but for CAD and EDA they make little sense.
After reading the comments I have to agree with the general tone. The PC is still a player for major work while the tablets will continue to increase in sales both due to lowered costs and improved performance. I see a place for both, I do all my work (and play) on a traditional laptop. I like the portability and reasonable cost, I do use an external display for viewing multiple documents/windows. I can't imagine giving up my laptop for a tablet, but I could se in the future getting a tablet to augment my computing/email needs.
My experience is that the non-engineer population and certainly anyone holding a job will replace their device every 2 years or less. People who don't have a car or a house but are making minimum wage will spend 25% of their income on a portable mobile device. Walk into any event that contains people between 20 and 50 and the lions share will be playing on their phone.
Tablets are good for those with a lot of time on their hands and someone else taking care of the bills - fits the ex - hippy ( & some say dope dealer ) Jobs profile. This would probably cover 80 % of current PC users in the US ( home, school & Starbucks ! ). The rest would have to stay with PCs but would prefer that they become as light and power efficient as Tablets ( i,e. ultrabooks with cheap 200 GB of SSD, detachable keyboards with a second less power hungry processor,...). Intel and MS are you listening ?
I agree that tablet sales are surging, but I disagree that it's at the PC's expense.
The problem for the PC is that to a large extent, the market is saturated. Most people who can use a PC, have one. There is still a substantial PC market, but it consists of upgrades to and replacements for existing units, not new sales, and that market will not drive the growth the financial markets look for.
Tablets have different use cases, and are bought in *addition* to PCs. The advantage is that they are smaller, lighter, and portable. They can be conveniently carried around, and do a lot (though not all) of what people use PCs to do.
The primary use case for a tablet is to be a media consumption device, presenting audio, video, pictures, and text. They are essentially "half duplex", where you receive far more than you send, and the UI is optimized for selecting media you want to consume. If you need to *create* any amount of content, a tablet will fall down.
I don't currently have a tablet, but if I acquire one, the first addition will be a Bluetooth keyboard, because on screen virtual keyboards lose for any volume of text entry. Strong preference will be given to a device that can be plugged into a docking station.
We aren't quite there, but the components are becoming small, fast, and cheap enough that I expect to someday be able to buy something about the size of a smartphone which may *be* my primary computing device: I simply plug it into a docking station that connects it to one or more large monitors, a keyboard and mouse, external storage, and my network. Stand alone, it may be my smartphone, or if I want a bigger screen, paired with a tablet when I'm traveling.
(Insofar as possible, critical information would not live on it, but on my network or the cloud, and if it's last or stolen, I simply replace the hardware, plug it into my network via the docking station, and it gets configured automatically to replace the old unit.)
Replay available now: A handful of emerging network technologies are competing to be the preferred wide-area connection for the Internet of Things. All claim lower costs and power use than cellular but none have wide deployment yet. Listen in as proponents of leading contenders make their case to be the metro or national IoT network of the future. Rick Merritt, EE Times Silicon Valley Bureau Chief, moderators this discussion. Join in and ask his guests questions.