Are Tablets Really Killing PC Sales?

I think not. Kudos to Dean Collins for getting this right. Dean  notes a Boomberg Business Week article citing Gartner Group report. They claim;

“…PC makers and suppliers are still struggling to lure back consumers who have decided they can get the Internet access and computing they need from cheaper tablets.”

…which is I think absolute hogwash. Dean quite correctly asserts that the trouble with PC sales is a lack of compelling new applications that require the continuous upgrade cycle of old.

If I consider our own experience hereabouts, both Estella and I got new desktops last summer. This was motivated in part of a compelling offer from Woot.com and the fact that were had three-year-old systems running Windows XP. The move to new hardware was accompanied by a new OS. It made more sense to go all-in on the new systems than upgrade the OS on the existing hardware.

For many people, uber-gamers and media guru’s aside, there simply isn’t any reason to get new hardware so very often. We bought our last Windows XP systems at about the time that Estella bought a license for the Adobe Master Suite. That was a monster bundle of heavy-hitting software that justified the new hardware.

Our move to Windows 7 64 bit was in-part compelled by the need to move to the latest Adobe Creative Suite, which absolutely required a 64 bit OS. For my part, I needed a desktop with PCIe to support the use of a BlackMagic Design video capture card.

Clearly, our activities involving the use of high-quality video drives our hardware upgrade cycle. Such forces do not exist for many people, so their hardware sustains them much longer.

We own tablets, but the presence of those devices has not impacted our decision to buy desktops or laptops. In this case I think that Gartner is mistaken.

  • Greg

    While I agree that tablets do not eliminate the need for a PC/laptop, it does enable households to survive with fewer PC’s. Instead of having two laptops, they may do with one laptop and one tablet. Tangentially, I would argue that desktops are essentially obsolete except for when the user has a specific need for I/O expansion that a laptop does not provide (Additional disk storage, graphics cards, etc).

    • mjgraves

      You may be right. That would indicate that we are outliers, which would not be entirely unexpected. Nonetheless, the major point is that the use cases for computers have not moved on in any way that would require ever more CPU, storage, etc. All the things that once forced upgrade cycles. Portable devices might usurp lesser roles but the newer, more demanding roles are not emerging.

      • Greg

        Datacenter growth is exponential in recent years. Services such as Dropbox, iCloud, Pandora, etc. minimize the physical requirements of what a client machine. Thus tablets and lower end PC’s suffice for many tasks.