I think the question is really not if new devices likie tablets will bring the PC market down. That's difficult to imagine at least for the short to medium term. Lots of stuff just can't be done on something else than a PC type of computer, and I think that will remain the situation for quite some time, but it has transformed the PC market to a mature or maybe even stagnating market. Another question though is if smartphone ecosystem(s) will continue to completely dominate the tablet space. I think Windows based and Linux based PC-type of tablet devices do have some chances to carve out a reasonable niche, especially in corporate and embedded applications i.e. non-consumer markets.
I think the most obvious reason for business PC sales stagnation is that the typical PC is "good enough" for more years than it used to be, due to the lack of compelling new CPU/memory hungry applications, and the increased shift to server-side computing.
I totally agreee with Ski Bum. Why are the pundits constantly pushing this "PC in decline" mantra, when it isn't the case? It's starting to sound like a religious chant.
In spite of the increased sales, initially reported end of last year, the trade press continues to insist "PC in decline," or in this case, if not actually in decline, "missed the mark." We've already discussed the changing definition of PC, how it can now apply to devices that look more like tablets. My thinking is, people still need PC-like devices, that are useful to do more than just run someone else's "apps" and read magazines. People may have bought up a lot of traditional iPad/Kindle-style tablets in the past, a new product category, but that doesn't mean they have stopped doing anything productive. Eventually, PC sales and PC-tablet hybrid sales are bound to rebound.
If history repeats itself, new power-hungry applications will continue to be developed, now that tablets have about saturated the market, allowing software developers to concentrate on more than just tablet software. And these new and more demanding applications will generate sales of higher powered PCs.
Here's what I see. Large drop in Q1 of 2012 compared with the previous quarter, strong drop in Q1 of 2013 compared with the previous quarter. But then two consecutive strong increases in Q3 and Q4 of 2013.
Look at the year over year sales. I see a line that dropped to its low point Q2 of 2013, and has seen a quite healthy increase ever since. Certainly, a stronger and longer upswing than any since Q1 of 2012, which is as far back as that graphic goes.
To attribute the steady upward trend from Q2 of 2013 to "holiday shopping" sounds mighty disingenuous to me. Not too many people begin holiday shopping in April. If anything, I would interpret those curves to show that the handheld market is leveling off, as all such new markets eventually do, giving people a chance to upgrade their PCs once again.
And of course there's always the error introduced by miscounting. A Surface Pro, by all accounts, should be counted as a PC and not a tablet. Don't know how it was categorized in those graphs. So, "PC in decline" must simply sell more articles.
The text clearly states that Surface Pro is included in the numbers: "Mobile PCs, which include netbooks, PC tablets, and ultrabooks".
You can't just look at the quarterly results and claim the increase will continue without providing evidence - the evidence from previous years is that Q4 is traditionally strong and Q1 is bad. No doubt this will be true for 2014 as well. So the year on year line will go rapidly down again, not go up further as you seem to hope. And that despite counting Surface Pro as PCs..
A more honest assessment of the PC market is that it appears to be recovering. Year to year, by the 4th quarter of 2013, it had recovered most of its losses. Trend lines matter. Another possible quarterly downturn 1Q 2014, compared with 4Q 2013, is not enough to change a long term trend.
But I guess "PC market appears to be recovering" doesn't sell enough copy.
I'd like to see how much traction HP is getting on its recent return to Win7 as an option. That is probably the closest that we could get to removing the Windows 8 factor. We can read between the lines to some degree in terms of them making that move at all. Anecdotal evidence: I've put together several Win7 systems recently for non-techie friends that specifically didn't want Win8, and spoken with many that really didn't like it.