PC Sales on a Gradual Decline: Tablets, Smartphones to Take Over?

16 Jul

Recent market performance of PCs have not exactly been promising, to say the least. According to Gartner’s latest quarterly reports, total worldwide shipment for PCs during Q2 of 2012 amounted to only 87.5 million units, approximately 0.1% lower than last year’s figures. Gartner analyst Mikako Kitagawa, amongst others, points out that this marks the seventh consecutive quarter during which the global PC market has experienced flat or marginal growth. The waning popularity of PCs, they suggest, appears to be imminent and is showing no signs of stopping.

Perceived from the perspective of individual countries and companies, the prospects for PCs appear to be slightly more harrowing. In the US, PC shipping orders had reportedly dropped by as much as 11%, resulting in only 15.9 million retail PCs being sold during 2012. Whereas Apple experienced a slight 1.1% decrease in MacBook sales, companies such as HP, Dell, and Acer, the once dominant trio in the computer industry, have witnessed the sales performance of their desktops and notebooks sink far below the expected norm. HP, in particular, suffered a steep 12% drop in its second quarter shipment, giving all the more reasons to be pessimistic about the future state of personal computers.

Dissecting the Possible Causes of PC’s downward trend

While the true underlying causes for the PC’s faltering status are yet to be confirmed, theories abound as to what might have helped contribute to this undesirable situation. On the one hand, many have pointed towards the more obvious external factors: the slowdown of the global economy, tight government budget policies, and general lack of consumer interest are all identified as possible catalysts for what appears to be a declined tendency to buy personal computers.

On the other side of the spectrum, some have raised the issue of the rising popularity of tablets and smartphones as the true cause of PCs downfall. In addition to being more affordable and portable, these devices sufficiently perform a computer’s basic tasks and functions, a feature which easily makes them an attractive option compared to the bulkier, less-convenient-to-carry PCs.

Given that the iPad alone has already sold a tremendous number of units in the past few years, it is believed that Microsoft’s Surface, Google’s Nexus 7 and Amazon’s Kindle Fire 2 will serve as legitimate threats to the already dwindling status and influences of PCs.
End of Personal Computers?
Just how far—and fast- PCs would be driven out of the computing market’s picture remains to be seen. Whereas many companies have been experiencing a bit of a drought in terms of PC sales, it should be noted that manufacturers such as Lenovo and Asus appear immune to the downward trend. The China-based electronics company has been reported by Gigaom to enjoy a 25% increase in PC shipments, whereas for the latter company the increase was reportedly 40%.

The development of ultrabooks is another factor worthy of consideration. Designed to be light, sleek, and easily portable, ultrabooks seem to be the PC notebook’s definitive answer to the growing dominance of tablet devices. While the ultrabook’s market performance, at the moment, have not been as stellar as hoped, it is not impossible for these super-light weight computers to eventually gain momentum and save PCs from becoming obsolete.