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Is the PC dead ?

Rumors that the PC market is dying and that desktop software development could become less relevant are escalating at a quick pace. Fact or fiction ? Well, to shed some light on this matter we’re going to use the magical power of numbers, and not just any numbers but the ones gathered by well respected market-research firms.

The past and present of the PC

The past of the PC was certainly a glorious one both from a consumer and software development point of view, no doubt about that. I am not going to go through the history of the personal computer here as that’s easily accessible on the internet and it’s also to some degree, universal knowledge. However, the subject that I want to bring up here is the near past of the PC.

If we were to choose 2006 as a starting point, we would stumble upon PC sales on a constant upswing. For five years hundreds of millions of units were shipped everywhere on the globe and the demand seemed to be as healthy as always. That’s until Smartphones took arms against the PC and tablets flanked them to deliver the fatal blow.

Last year PC sales dropped almost 7% and this year market-research firms are predicting an even steeper fall of nearly 8% from 345 millions to 310 millions. Reasons for this vary but the driving force behind the PC’s decline is ironically the very thing that made it so popular: the Internet. Think about it, how do people spend most of their time on the PC, or at least used to ? Browsing the internet of course. Well, since Smartphones have become much more affordable (and bigger) and Wi-Fi is basically everywhere, there is no point anymore in owning a PC for browsing the Internet. Add tablets and their high performance into the mix and you’ve got yourself the perfect assembly for overthrowing the PC.

A grim look towards the future

The future is not looking bright for personal computer manufacturers. Market-research firms have predicted that tablets will finally surpass desktops in sales somewhere around 2016 with an estimated 460 million units sold.

If you are selling PCs for a living don’t despair just yet, it’s still not the time for dirges in the dark. Even if the personal computer market is on a steady decline, it will still be a long time until the plug will have to be pulled. However, with technologies like the touchscreen physical keyboard in the making, PCs will probably be replaced completely somewhere around 2020. It’s safe to say they are in their twilight years right now and should make the most out of it.

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