The Decline of the PC?
Market analysis by International Data Corporation, an American market research firm, has shown a record-breaking 10.6 per cent drop in PC sales over quarter four of 2015, with Apple being the only manufacturer making significant gains. If you have an interest in economics and business per se there’s a full breakdown of the report can be found over at gamesindustry.biz and it certainly makes for interesting viewing. However like most numbers this data needs to be placed within a wider context, so that we don’t make the mistake of jumping to erroneous conclusions. So in what markets are PC sales dropping and what exactly are the reasons why?
As a consultant I have a lot of dealing with small and medium sized businesses, especially those in the legal, financial and public relations sectors. The more traditional industries still seem to favour desktop hardware, although leasing has mainly replaced company ownership. Windows 10 has also been adopted quite widely by many of my clients. However I am also seeing an increase in businesses that have consolidated all their work resources to the cloud and look to staff to provide their own hardware for access. Tablets and ultrabooks seem to be very much in vogue in these instances. This shift has an impact upon new sales and replacements but I cannot see it accounting for such a decline.
The home market seems to be the obvious main culprit as so many day to day PC tasks can now be carried out on tablets and smartphones. I am aware of a lot of friends and colleagues that have ditched their home desktop PCs as the bulk of their online habits are based around social media and the consumption of content. Many of these people game via consoles or their handheld device. The PC therefore ceases to be a necessary or an inviting financial investment. As for those power users who still remain wedded to the PC for gaming and content creation (such as myself), there is a tendency to tinker and upgrade, thus negating the need to buy a new PC so often. In fact when there is a requirement to replace a system we often build it ourselves as it is a more economical and flexible option.
I certainly don’t expect to see the PC vanish anytime soon but I think that there will be a continuing shrinking of the market, as people look to alternative devices to carry out basic tasks. I think that the TV and home entertainment system will grow further in use and that smartphone will continue to dominate communication, content sharing and online purchasing. My recent phone upgrade has provided me with a very powerful handheld device and I have devolved further task to it such as banking and the consumption of podcasts and similar media. My desktop PC is a tool specifically for producing audio content and a gaming platform. At present those tasks cannot be dealt with to my liking on another platform. However there may well come a time when that is not the case and that may be sooner rather than later.