Yes, tablets, whatever, but is this proof that the press prefers gloom and doom, or what?
I've been wondering whether eventually, PC sales wouldn't start a comeback. Sooner or later, I thought, people will have bought their tablets and will probably get back to their workhorse. I admit that tablets like the Surface Pro would likely make that picture more cloudy.
So, I haven't seen any screaming headlines on EE Times, and this phenomenon has apparently not (yet) occurred globally, but PC sales in the US, 3rd quarter 2013, are 3.5 percent higher than last year. Surprising turnaround? Dunno. You'd think it would get some press coverage, though.
I've seen this happening over and over and over again. People seem to assume that today's trend will be the trend for all time. It was never more obvious than in the go-go early 2000s, when supposedly the whole economic system had changed dramaitically. Until, uuuh, it hadn't. I wouldn't be a bit surprised if the same isn't true with this "PC in decline" mantra we keep hearing. Although again, tablets like the Surface Pro could, or should, change what constitutes "PC."
What I am seeing is PC makers doing more innovating than they have in a long time. Desktop PCs and laptops had become, quite frankly, boring. There is nothing like a sharp drop in sales to force companies into trying new things. Most of these will end up unsuccessful, but there is a possibility that they will come up with true differentiators that will give PCs in some form a new lease on life.
Higher bandwidth connectivity will change the landscape for good. Thinner clients with standard and ubiquitous accessories will become the norm. They will be handheld devices, the word PC will become defunct :-)
@KB3001, "the word PC will become defunct". When it comes to PCB design, FPGAs and SW compiling I still prefer to sit in front of my PC, 'torture' my keyboard typing as fast as I can and... smell and taste my cup of coffe. ;) Anyway, I enjoy playing brain teasers and puzzles with my little not-an-iPad tablet.
You can still have that from a handheld device, Victor (not-an-iPad if you want :-) ) with the proper accessories (keyboard, wall projector etc.) Imagine designing a circuit lying down on your bed watching a projection on the ceiling, with a portable keypad? :-)
Sounds great, except that when I design I have a bunch of written documents spread out for immediate reference, and usually a prototype hooked up to a 'sillyscope, all within easy visual range. I guess I'll just spread those all over the bed and hope the cat doesn't jump up and start playing.
Back in the days when the IBM PC was "entry level" and not good for much other than playing Funeral March of a Marionette over a tinny speaker, software and hardware engineers used expensive workstations from Sun and Apollo to do serious work. By the 1990s, consumer PCs became powerful enough wipe out the more expensive workstations. Now, as consumer applications move to phones and tablets, the remaining function for a PC is to be a workstation. Perhaps it's time to resurrect that word.
Good point @betajet, a workstation it is. But even that one would not last forever, me thinks. A workstation would perhaps be a pod with the right accessories, to which you attach your handheld device.
"A workstation would perhaps be a pod with the right accessories, to which you attach your handheld device."
Yeah, that's my take too. Until these handhelds can be docked one way or another, even just using the USB 3.0 to large screens, or projectors, and until they can run multiple applications at the same time, they won't replace PCs. Heck, even online shopping becomes laborious when you can only open one app at a time. It kind of reminds me of the ancient DOS days, when you couldn't even monitor e-mail and write a document at the same time.
I'm sure the time is coming, and the Surface Pro is a start.
My wife has a Kindle Fire that she uses for reading, weather reports, and for certain games (like Boggle, that surprisingly doesn't seem to be available on modern PC OSs). But she also has a desktop that she uses a lot.
"even online shopping becomes laborious when you can only open one app at a time. It kind of reminds me of the ancient DOS days, when you couldn't even monitor e-mail and write a document at the same time."
And yet Windows 8, the OS running on so many of those "workstation" PCs, is fundamentally one app at a time -- a huge design mistake, IMHO.
Of course it's possible to display more than one app at a time, even in the tiled "metro" UI, but it's not as intuitive as in older Windows versions. There's no denying that MS intended for the Metro UI to be the primary Windows 8 UI, and for it to be more like a tablet OS, where the default behavior is for an app to occupy the entire screen. Instead of Windows 8, perhaps they should've named it Window 8 (singular).
Fondness, perhaps, or worry about the dumbing down of the population, or objection to mindless hype?
A device limited to a tiny screen, one app open at a time, and pathetic I/O that takes up much of the already-tiny screen, clearly aren't PCs. When I see headlines that claim that these little guys are creating a "post-PC era," it leaves me incredulous.
When we used pen and paper, we were not limited to a small area that only showed a few lines of text, while writing. How can anyone write anything meaningful with such a restriction? And the physical desktop did not limit us to just one sheet of paper or to just one open book at a time. So unless we're back to using paper and physical books, I find it non-credible that the lesser tablets that created such a stir could usher in any "post-PC" anything. Arguments that "most people" supposedly don't need a PC also sound non-credible, unless these people are back to using books and pads of paper to get their work done (including schoolwork, btw).
So here we are, with evidence that just maybe we're not quite in a "post-PC era," just maybe the PC and the tablet or smartphone fill different roles, but we go on pretending.
The tablets that created the hype, it seems to me, didn't come close to deserving said hype. However, it's most likely the case that the multiuse PC will evolve into something a lot more portable, but without mandating the compromised usefulness of the lesser tablets of today.
I think sooner or later, we will have one single device to do everything: phone calls, social media, web browsing, multimedia, home appliance control, and even professional usage. The I/Os or UIs will have to evolve drastically however e.g. building walls could become screens with a standard accessory projector plugged into the device, voice controlled command will be the most reliable, standard keyboard accessory plug-ins for more professional use etc. With higher communication bandwidth, applications will be hosted on the cloud leading to lean mean client devices. The transition is slow, yes, but we are seeing the early signs. What we call hybrids today will evolve into what I describe above.
Actually, though, Apple still continues to be "most profitable." In other words, to charge more.
It should not be surprising that a company that charges more will lose market share, as the masses start buying up the new devices. Apple will have to invent some other new toy, a la smartphone, at precisely the right time (i.e. when the infrastructure is ready for the device). Then for another period of time, they will get the market share from early adopters. And the cycle repeats.
"Anyone I know who has used one has walked away disgusted" Well, you could consider at least one guy (me) who found good use for one of such tablets (not exactly bellow $150, but not as expensive as an iPad), the BQ Verne Plus (8GB) (http://www.bqreaders.com/productos/verne-plus.html). I use it for experimenting with OpenCV and Android programming in general, sometimes for reading and sometimes for playing puzzles. Now I own one BQ Edison (http://www.bqreaders.com/productos/edison.html).
I wholeheartedly agree with you Caleb. Like the old saying goes, you get what you pay for. Imagine how much different the tablet market growth might've been if the iPad had not been the first to market. I think many early adopters whose only prior experience with Apple products was an iPod music player were not only enthralled by the portability & large touchscreen of the iPad, but by the fact that it was a computer that "just works" -- no driver installations, no elaborate boot-up sequence, no "registry errors," etc.
I strongly agree with this report that tablets will make up half of 2014 PC market. I too, just like many others, have purchased tablet(s) and wonder how we have lived without it for months. It is lighter than a laptop and provide me with access to the Internet and my email with ease; and many other features. I still believe that Microsoft and Apple will continue to grow within this table market. The iPad is on top of the line because of so many applications available and the ipad is just simply solid product. The Windows Surface 2 is a well designed product and is very stable. It is one of the best steal on the market today with MS Office 2013 and Windows 8. I have purchased both the Apple iPad and the Windows Surface 2 and love both. Vendors such as Acer, Asus, HP, and Lenovo are creating wonderful table products. But the problem with these vendors is customer's confidence. These vendors have proven themselves very well in the area of desktop systems, but not very well in the area of the tablet. These vendor's prices are great compared to Apple and Microsoft, but people are willing to pay a higher price for a product produced by a company that they believe in. But 2014 will be an interesting year within the PC market.
Since tablets' market is booming in comparison with PC, but as per the usage of the tablets and average requirement of consumers it seems that slowly the market will shift towards convertible PC/Tablets. Accommodation of keyboard is an essential requirement in tablets to be used as regular PC for home/SOHO needs.
I think, in offices people would still use desktop or laptop computers in 2014, as the tablets are not yet equipped for office use. Thinking about the personal computers for home use...yes...I guess a bigger population would be happy to choose tablet over a desktop or a laptop computer, who were browsing internet, watching videos, playing games and using fancy apps...but don't know if that would be half of the 2014 PC market. As the accessories are available to convert a tablet into a desktop by connecting a keyboard and a display to it and once the matching performance is available in tablets, the tablets would replace PCs.