Reports of the demise of the PC industry are greatly exaggerated. In fact, market research firm IDC forecasts PC sales will "stabilize" by 2018 and then
record slow, steady growth. Another indication of the health of the PC industry is the news of improving demand from chip maker Intel. Reports of the demise of the PC industry are greatly exaggerated.
Plenty of upside to this “down” PC market
Two trends in particular have depressed PC sales, according to analysts:
- People are buying more mobile devices and using them for some traditional desktop tasks
- The quality of the PCs themselves has improved so much that the machines now have much longer lifespans
After 8% declines in 2015 and 2016, Gartner projects that PC shipments will increase by 0.4% in 2017 and 3% in 2018.
In fact, PC sales continue to outpace the projections of experts. It turns out, people like tablets and smart phones for applications, but they continue to rely on laptops and desktops to get the bulk of their work done—and a good deal of non-work as well.
PCs hold their own—and then some—against tablets
Highlighting the shelf life of desktops and laptops is the stagnant outlook Gartner sees for tablet sales. From a total of 196 million unit sales in 2015, tablet shipments are forecast to decline to 177 million in 2016 and to 173 million in 2017 and 2018. The ultra-portable market is expected to drive an overall increase in PC sales to 274 million units in 2018 from 265 million units in 2016.
While tablets hold a portability and battery-life edge over full-featured laptops, the latest generation of ultra-portables diminishes tablets’ size advantage. Where laptops (and desktops) far outshine their keyboard-less counterparts is in performance. For multitasking, there is no substitute for the memory and processing power of PCs running Mac OS and Windows.
Likewise, any application that requires a big, sharp picture will benefit from a high-resolution PC or laptop display. Many people prefer browsing in a full-window, full-function browser, which offers a view far superior to the mobile-browsing experience. Last but not least, there is no tablet that can provide the storage capacity and expandability of desktops and laptops.
While smartphones and tablets are likely to remain popular for a good long time, the devices are far from PC replacements. For many everyday tasks—work and personal—there’s no substitute for a full-featured PC. That fact won’t change anytime soon.
In considering your next refresh cycle, it’s far, far too early to rule out the role of PCs in the workplace.