Categories

[Updated] The rise and fall of personal computing

Thanks to Jeremy Reimer I was able to create the following view into the history of computer platforms.

I  added data from the smartphone industry, Apple and updated the PC industry figures with those from Gartner. Note the log scale.

The same information is available as an animation in the following video (Music by Nora Tagle):

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8h-C6u4yLj4

This data combines several “categories” of products and is not complete in that not all mobile phone platforms are represented. However, the zooming out  offers several possible observations into the state of the “personal computing” world as of today.

  1. We cannot consider the iPad as a “niche”. The absolute volume of units sold after less than two years is enough to place it within an order of magnitude of all PCs sold. We can also observe that it has a higher trajectory than the iPhone which became a disruptive force in itself. Compare these challengers to NeXT in 1991.
  2. The “entrants” into personal computing, the iPad, iPhone and Android, have a combined volume that is higher than the PCs sold in the same period (358 million estimated iOS+Android vs. 336 million PCs excluding Macs in 2011.) The growth rate and the scale itself combine to make the entrants impossible to ignore.
  3. There is a distinct grouping of platform options into three phases or eras. The first lasting from 1975 to 1991 was an era of rapid growth but also of multiple standards and experiments. It was typical of an industry in emergence. The personalization of computing brought about a new set of entrants. The second phase lasted between 1991 and 2007 and was characterized by a near monopoly of Microsoft, but, crucially one alternative platform did survive. The third phase can be seen as starting five years ago with the emergence of the iPhone and its derivatives. It has similarities to the first phase.

We can also look at the data through a slightly different view: market share. Share is a bit more subjective because we need to combine products in ways that are considered comparable (or competing).

First, this is a “traditionalist” view of the PC market as defined by Gartner and IDC, and excluding tablets and smartphones.

This view would imply that the PC market is not changing in any substantial way. Although the Mac platform is gaining share, there is no significant erosion in the power of the incumbent.

Second, is a view where the iPad is added to the traditionalist view.

This view is more alarming. Given the first chart, in order for the iPad to be significant, it would need to be “visible” for a market that already ships over 350 million units. And there it is. If counted, the iPad begins to show the first disruption in the status quo since 1991.

The third view is with the addition of iPhone and Android.

This last view corresponds to the data in the first graph (line chart). If iOS and Android are added as potential substitutions for personal computing, the share of PCs suddenly collapses to less than 50%. It also suggests much more collapse to come.

I will concede that this last view is extremist. It does not reflect a competition that exists in real life. However, I put this data together to show a historic pattern. Sometimes extremism is a better point of view than conservatism. Ignoring this view is very harmful as these not-good-enough computers will surely get better. A competitor that has no strategy to deal with this shift is likely to suffer the fate of those companies in the left side of the chart. Treating the first share chart as reality is surely much more dangerous than contemplating the third.

I’ve used anecdotes in the past to tell the story of the disruptive shift in the fortunes of computing incumbents and entrants. I’ve also shown how the entry of smart devices has disrupted the telecom world and caused a transfer of wealth away from the old guard.

The data shown here frames these anecdotes. The data is not the whole story but it solidifies what should be an intuition.

[Update]

Additional platforms added to the first chart.

 

  • http://www.aqute.com AquteIntel

    Great analysis. You seem to assume though that there is a fixed market share at which iPhone/iPad eat away, presumably that’s the fixed population of buyers. An alternative interpretation is that as people buy multiple devices, and spend more time in front of devices than before, the market overall is growing. 

    • http://www.asymco.com Horace Dediu

      I agree with your interpretation and cannot imagine myself holding the assumption that there is a single pool of buyers.

      • Doji

        Horace, thanks for all the valuable insight.

        I have a question about apple inc reluctance to redo the near perfect iPod disruption when it comes to iPad and specially iPhone.

        When the comfort of high profit margin while android is disrupting the lower price point in plain sight

        IpAd and iPhone account nearly 70% of apple revenue but apple is only looking the sky not the earth?

      • http://www.asymco.com Horace Dediu

        Don’t assume that Apple finds comfort in anything. There are many constraints to the phone market that restrict what Apple can do, especially in a short time frame of a few years. The distribution and dependencies on local considerations make scale a problem, especially when the product is updated every year. The ramp for production that has to take place every year limits how many phones they can produce. Given time, I think Apple will address the lower price points but they will do it with an integrated offering of service and product.

      • Anonymous

        Exactly right. They’ve literally been ramping production ever since they started manufacturing phones, and they still haven’t caught up to demand for the high end!

    • Anonymous

      Yes, the market is growing, but all that growth is driven by mobile devices. Just like how the growth of the desktop PC has long since peaked, with all growth in recent years being driven by laptops. The peak of the conventional PC is plain to see, and now comes the contraction.

      Most users are buying multiple devices, because most of them have not yet learned that they can perform all the computing tasks they require from their mobile device. As data migrates into the cloud and mobile software improves, mobile devices will become more capable, and more users will decide not to replace that old PC. The conventional PC will remain, greatly diminished, to serve only the most demanding users.

      • http://www.aqute.com AquteIntel

        Agreed. I was sort of arguing that PCs aren’t as threatened as the charts make out, but that’s slightly moronic – they’ve obviously peaked. The prophecies about mobile computing that tech execs made during the past ten years have come true.

      • Anonymous

        First of all, note that the scale is logarithmic in the y axis. What looks like a negative curve is probably a positive curve with the tail end moving to a straight line in a linear chart. of course, the “paper” you’d need to chart the info linearly would probably be several stories high….

        Second, if you include OSX machines as PC’s, then clearly PC’s as a catagory are still growing. And if you include iPads as PC’s, the catagory is growing like Topsy!

      • Anonymous

        I do consider mobile devices which run a modern smartphone OS to be the evolution of the PC, but one only needs to look at the past couple of years of Gartner reports to see that conventional PCs (desktops and laptops) are beginning their decline, even when you factor in Mac growth. 

        This is how disruption tends to go. First you get the non-users, people who never saw the value of a conventional PC but do see the value of a smartphone or tablet. This group can be seen in the stalled growth of conventional PCs. Then you get the low-value customers, which would be the netbook crowd. Then, as your disruptive product gets better and better, you seize the mid-value customers, which would be people who mostly use their PCs for document editing, internet communication and light gaming.

        At the end, the only people left will be the high-value customers, people who really need a keyboard and mouse and/or powerful computer to do their jobs. And with expanding cloud services and some creative docking solutions, even those users might not be safe.

        Laptops have been quietly disrupting desktops for a while now. They’re less powerful, less reliable, and more expensive than desktops, which sounds like a worse product, but people buy them anyway because the new axis of value is mobility. Whether you want to call them PCs, post-PCs, or just mobile devices, tablets and smartphones are the next step, and they are going to gobble up a lot of the conventional PC market.

  • http://twitter.com/duncanwilcox Duncan Wilcox 

    Why do you say the competition between smartphones and traditional PCs doesn’t exist in real life?

    For some people the smartphone is all the computing they need. Steve Jobs’ truck vs. car analogy is just a first step of a specialization process, computing will become ubiquitous and with 100% penetration when it disappears and permeates smart objects we use daily.

    Smartphones are PCs specializing as phones, and while specialization means they don’t do everything PCs do, it does mean that if that’s all you need, you actually don’t need a PC.

    Siri will work for even more specialized objects, and appeal to even more people by virtue of disappearing inside, and adding smarts to, objects you don’t think of as PCs today.

    • http://www.asymco.com Horace Dediu

      There is competition for the job to be done but there is no competition in terms of purchase intent for computers.

      • Harvey

        We assume this but why not let the data show it instead?

      • http://twitter.com/duncanwilcox Duncan Wilcox 

        That’s true if your starting point is the traditional PC market, and the job they’re hired to do is implied to be everything PCs can do. If you had started with smartphones, added the iPad and finally added PCs it would still be an extremist view, but the implied job to be done would be different.

        There are many jobs to be done that either a PC or smartphone can be hired to do, which is why there’s overlap in markets and sales data is ultimately comparable. Directly comparing sales data is extremist and flawed only if you consider the market, meaning “the space of products competing for purchase intent”, to be static.

        It’s impossible to slice the sales data in a way that expresses the mix of features, tradeoffs and jobs to be done for which purchasers pick a PC, an iPad or a smartphone, but the respective growth curves seem to confirm the intuition that the mix is shifting towards more flexible, more mobile, simpler to use devices (as has always happened in 60 years of computing history), and that the featureset (including simplicity) is appealing to a broader audience.

      • http://twitter.com/e_orione Emilio Orione

        I think that smarphones added new users to the computer market, they inflated the computer market and data is comparable in the new market.

      • http://twitter.com/daveeinhorn David Einhorn

        I’m not so sure. As you’ve talked about yourself a lot of time spent on PCs really takes place in browsers. Information searching (prices, news) and communication (SMS, IM, email, twitter, Facebook, etc.) can take place on cheap Android phones. I have no idea how good the browser is on a $100 Chinese Android phone, but no matter how bad it is, it’s a lot better than having no access at all. Of course this requires wireless broadband at reasonable prices, but that should be rolled out shortly because of cheap Chinese LTE network equipment.

        I’ve forgotten where I found this bit of info, but I saw some tech bloggers discuss adoption of $100 Android phones among the poor in the US. First time internet users in the “1st world”. This is huge and I know you know it, so why not call a spade a spade and admit that for entirely new computing users, smart phones compete with PCs on communication, information gathering and content delivery but not on content creation. Of course that is somewhat untrue. I saw the death of Gaddafi first on youtube, recorded by several cheap phones in possession of rank and file rebels. That _is_ content creation. News is being disrupted already.

        Edit: Oh and thanks for the charts they’re great.

    • http://twitter.com/alberthartman Albert Hartman

      This actually goes to the heart of the native apps versus web apps dilemma. Some people feel the HTML5 container will evolve to encompass everything you need, and developers can write to just a single platform. Others believe that the world will fragment into specialized and dedicated devices that will have native apps tuned for them.

      My own opinion is that as all devices become intelligent and evolve as good as possible by using electronics, their designs will diverge depending on the tasks they are directed to. A one-size-fits-all approach will not be necessary since a customized implementation won’t be so hard to make in the future. So I think the native app wins in the longterm.

  • Kizedek

    That’s true — to an extent. But the “assumption” that you might all too often slip into the place of Horace’s “assumption” seems to be that there will be some kind of status quo regarding “jobs to be done”:

    True, someone may purchase an iPad and continue to own a PC for years to come. Entirely expected. However, he may quickly find himself doing most “traditional PC jobs” on simple, inexpensive apps…

    OK, he has a PC, but is he going to purchase Office at every upgrade or with every new PC purchase? Or, is he going to find that Pages, Keynote and Numbers for iPad, at 9.99 a crack is not only “good enough”, but actually preferable?

    This is why MS needs to be afraid. They need to see the big picture acurately and prepare for it. Many wonder why they have not provided many more/better apps of their own for iOS.

    • Kizedek

      Sorry, that was a reply to Duncan Wilcox. Should have been threaded underneath.

      • Kizedek

        Sorry, once again (another poster slipped in between as I posted) — actually a reply to AqueIntel.

    • Anonymous

      I have taken to using my iMac App Store to download inexpensive apps, including Pages for the Mac. I own an iMac 27″‘, an iPad 2, and an iPhone 4 (my wife got the iPhone 4s; I have to wait a year). I use them all interchangeably, and it’s nice to be able to use the same apps on the three different devices – which I can afford to do because they’re separately really inexpensive.

      • Anonymous

        Just to clarify, I mean the apps are really inexpensive….

      • Noneofyour

        You have to save due to the money spent on those over priced Mac’s.

      • Anonymous

        Mac’s, or Macs?

      • Anonymous

        ROFLMAO! You can always tell someone who’s never bought a Mac….

      • Just Iain

        Sacto_Joe, not every ‘over-priced’ Mac lasts longer than the average PC but they do sell for lot more if you want to get rid of them. Darn it, even our internal Trolls are nice. :-)

      • AnotherNetNarcissist

        Over priced Mac’s what? What is it that belongs to a Mac that is over priced? I don’t understand!

    • Noneofyour

      Or they will go the open source route  Openoffice, Gimp…..the list goes on. Why would they want to pay anything. ( if money is a concern they certainly won’t be buying Mac’s- 2-4 times the cost of a PC)

      • Anonymous

        This is an argument that Mac people have had for decades with PC people, and I certainly don’t intend to rehash it here. However, MAYBE i’ll continue the conversation if you find me the equivalent of a MacBook Air for 1/2 the price. And while you’re at it, make sure it is virus free, has aluminum uni-body construction, is drop-dead gorgeous, has impeccable service and support, and comes loaded with equivalents of all the software the Air comes with.

  • http://twitter.com/hypothesard Hypothesard

    While we’re at adding existing successful *devices* on Apple part and *platform* on Google’s part, why not also add the iPod touch to an additional graph and make a *full section* for iOS, after all Android *begins* to be used in non-Smartphone/tablet *Portable Media Player* (Samsung and Sony if my memory serves)

    I know, i know Apple doesn’t release detailed numbers on their *iPod* category
    But there are extrapolations out there : iPhone and iPad numbers are known, so are iOS numbers (more or less) so the number should be
    iPod touch = iOS – (iPhone+iPad)

    Great work
    Thanks

    • Anonymous

      Yep. As I posted later on, the last chart is missing the iPhone Touch.

      • http://www.asymco.com Horace Dediu

        It’s in the updated version.

      • Anonymous

        Thanks!

      • http://twitter.com/hypothesard Hypothesard

        Mulțumiri, Domnule Dediu :D

      • http://twitter.com/hypothesard Hypothesard

        *iPhone touch* is a nice typo :D

  • http://twitter.com/formasymphonic formasymphonic

    Excellent data as always Horace, but in the current context wouldn’t it make more sense to replace “PC” with WinTel?

    …and on a semi-related note, post W8 will you be planning to track Wintel devices and WoA devices separately or will they still be counted together? (sales data dependant, of course)

    I think that data would be interesting to in regards to considerations of what the market is hiring those devices for and context of overall industry trends

    • http://www.asymco.com Horace Dediu

      I did not want to use WinTel because many of the PCs shipped don’t include Windows. I’m going with Gartner’s definition of the PC because they are the source of recent data used in the chart. I’ll have to see how they categorize W8 when it ships.

  • http://twitter.com/miusuario Omar Moya

    Very interesting figures, but with the addition of smartphones, Symbian should be present there. And then, the figures would look really shocking, isn’t it?

    • http://www.asymco.com Horace Dediu

      You need to think of the two mobile platforms as proxies for all smartphones. There are many which are not included like BlackBerry and Windows Mobile.

      • http://twitter.com/miusuario Omar Moya

        I’m with you on the relevance of iOS and Android compared to other platforms. However, in terms of volumes, Symbian was leading this surge of mobile PC’s, while Blackberry and Windows Mobile were not that relevant in terms of volumes. Symbian started this split before iOS or Android. Then, I’d expect to see Android and iOS eating Symbian’s share. I don’t think it’s fair to just show iOS and Android coming out of nowhere, I’d prefer to include Symbian, as its share was more than relevant.

  • http://antoinerjwright.com Antoine RJ Wright

    what does that look like when Nokia is added? Seems like there would be a much more defined shift seen if their feature and smartphone dominance over the last decade was put into view.

  • http://twitter.com/jamesburland James Burland

    I’d expect to see TVs added to the list within the next 2 or 3 years. Clearly we are about to hit phase transition. Could traditional Windows PCs soon become machines only purchased and used for running Office in enterprise?

    • http://twitter.com/drostyboy steven

      interesting. did you see the samsung smart tv announcement at ces? they appear to be working with windows and google, so i am not sure which os they will run, but you could well imagine a new generation of smart devices (tv, refrigerator, etc.) potentially eating even further into that share. 

      • Anonymous

        I don’t see it. Phones have a 2 year contract with subsidies. The incentive for upgrading isn’t there for fridges and tvs. And that model may never be applied because you don’t need to pay someone to install a phone in your hand.

        It’ll take 10 more years before we switch to smart devices. iPv6 has to roll out completely. All the TVs have to be requipped, etc etc. 

        might be simpler to create an api standard so TVs can be DUMB terminals and be told what to do by more faster and intuitive UI and HI.

      • jawbroken

        Not sure why you think IPv6 will require replacement or upgrading of devices or that people generally pay someone to install their television.

  • Watcher

    How much of this is US centric and how much is that relevant? Couldn’t population and economic changes account for the difference in volume? 

    • http://www.asymco.com Horace Dediu

      The data is global.

  • Pieter

    The reality is that many users still prefer pc’s for certain tasks. Soon slate devices and smartphones will have the ability to support external keyboards, large screens, external hard drives, enhanced operating systems, etc, further eroding the need for “conventional” pc’s. How does Steve Ballmer get to sleep at night?

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Shameer-Mulji/1685212657 Shameer Mulji


      How does Steve Ballmer get to sleep at night?”

      It’s called Windows 8.  I honestly believe Windows 8 will be very successful.  At least 50% of Windows users are still running WinXP.  These users are ripe to move over to Windows 8 for the simple reason that WinXP will be expired some time 2014.  Many of these users still use legacy apps, which allow them to run on any Intel-based Win8 PC plus they will be able to run the new Metro-based apps.  This scenario covers tens, if not hundreds of millions, of users; especially those that have to run Office 2007 / 2010, nevermind all the line of business apps that have to be supported.

      The real challenge for MS will be Win8 tablets that run on ARM architecture.  These will run only the Metro apps & will compete directly with the iPad & Android tablets.

      • http://kaizenity.blogspot.com/ FalKirk

        Windows 8 is a VERY interesting topic. Without arguing with your position, let me pose some possible questions concerning the probable success of Windows 8.

        Will the changes in Window’s 8 be enough to entice current Window’s owners to upgrade?Will legacy apps truly run (and run well) on all Windows 8 tablets or will they only run on larger, battery inefficient, Intel powered tablets?Can legacy Windows mouse driven apps really be made compatible with touched based tablet apps or are they inherently incompatible?

        Apple has two operating systems. iOS runs on all of Apple’s tablets (iPod touch, iPhone and iPad) while OS X runs their notebooks and desktops. Microsoft is trying to run their phones on Windows Phone 7 and both their tablets and their notebooks/desktops on Windows 8. Microsoft is betting the house on the proposition that one operating system can power both the tablet computer and the desktop computer.

        Should be interesting.

      • Anonymous

        You’re right. I fail to understand why MS is blind to the fact that cramming a full OS is not workable in a tablet; not that they haven’t tried.

        iOS, after all, is derived from OS X. Why can’t MS copy that logic and create a lighter OS for mobile devices? It’s an open secret that they are excellent at copying Apple.

      • http://kaizenity.blogspot.com/ FalKirk

        “I fail to understand why MS is blind to the fact that cramming a full OS is not workable in a tablet…”-barryotoole

        They’re not blind to the problem. They have no choice. If they want to keep their Windows monopoly, they MUST make Windows relevant on tablets. Following Apple’s path and splitting the Operating Systems between tablets and desktops simply isolates Microsoft’s existing monopoly (and cash cow) on desktops.

        Microsoft MUST find a way to make Windows relevant on the tablet else they lose their lock-in (Windows compatibility), they lose their monopoly, they lose their cash cow and they lose their dominant position in the PC market.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Shameer-Mulji/1685212657 Shameer Mulji


        Will the changes in Window’s 8 be enough to entice current Window’s owners to upgrade?”

        There are tens (if not hundreds) of millions of business users that still use WinXP and rely on MS Office to create / share / collaborate documents with.  As long as these businesses are still reliant on using legacy LOB apps and Office, I don’t see them jumping to any other platform except Win8 running on Intel processors.  For those businesses / business users that have moved to Win7, I don’t foresee many of them upgrading for the simple reason that most of them just recently upgraded to Win7.  

        “Will legacy apps truly run (and run well) on all Windows 8 tablets or will they only run on larger, battery inefficient, Intel powered tablets?”

        From the information that’s available from MS, Windows 8 will only run legacy apps on Intel-based devices, be it tablet, notebook, desktop.  ARM-based devices will not support / run Windows legacy apps.  This is tentative so it may change. This is where the real challenge for Windows 8 lies, is on devices running the ARM architecture.  It’s with these devices that Win8 will go up against Android & iOS.  

        “Windows mouse driven apps really be made compatible with touched based tablet apps or are they inherently incompatible?”

        Right now mouse driven legacy apps do work in Win8 although the solution is not that elegant from what I’ve seen.  We’ll have to wait until late February, when Win8 beta is officially available, to see if MS has made any improvements to this.

        The best thing that MS has done with Win8, at least in regards to the new Metro apps, is that developers that write Metro apps can have their apps run unmodified on Win8 tablets, notebooks, desktops.  That’s a great boon for developers and consumers who will purchase apps through the Win8 app store.  

        Right now if I buy iWork on iPad, I have to pay again for iWork on Mac because there’s two different environments and app stores.  With Win8 Metro apps, not so.  If I’m bullish on Win8 it’s because it’s very well architected.  The big question is, can MS market Win8 well & convince consumers & businesses to move to this platform.  I’m confident

      • http://kaizenity.blogspot.com/ FalKirk

        Good discussion, Shameer. I Hope we get to continue this dialog in future articles.

        Unlike you, I think that Microsoft has taken the wrong path, but it is a path that they were forced to take if they wanted Windows to remain relevant. I could be wrong. Time (and the introduction of Windows 8 to the world) will tell.

      • Darwinphish

        Many of those XP users are running legacy apps that do not run under Windows 7 and they are unlikely to run under Windows 8.  And any legacy app that can be run in XP mode can be run using Parallels.

        Microsoft’s fundamental problem is that they have not been able to figure out how to leverage their current dominance with traditional PCs into success with newer computing devices.  Being locked into Windows on the desktop does not preclude one from using a non-Windows phone or tablet.  In fact, from my experience, the iPhone integrates better into a MS dominant environment than any past Windows Mobile device and I am not doubt this will change with WP 7 or 8.

      • Noneofyour

        “Many of those XP users are running legacy apps that do not run under
        Windows 7 and they are unlikely to run under Windows 8.  And any legacy
        app that can be run in XP mode can be run using Parallels.”

        Please name some?  It will be a short list.

      • Darwinphish

        Believe it or not, many companies still run intranet sites that require IE 6, old versions of database products like Foxpro and Access ’97, DOS based programs, accounting/finance packages and proprietary/custom software that will not run in Windows 7.  If Win7 was 100% backwards compatible, MS would have included XP mode in Win7 Professional.

        Increasingly, there is less and less software that only runs under Windows.  Why anyone would still develop client software that only run under Windows is beyond me.  I will flip your question around: excluding games, what software do you use which runs only under Win 7 and for which there is no Mac alternative?

      • Darwinphish

        Believe it or not, many companies still run intranet sites that require IE 6, old versions of database products like Foxpro and Access ’97, DOS based programs, accounting/finance packages and proprietary/custom software that will not run in Windows 7.  If Win7 was 100% backwards compatible, MS would have included XP mode in Win7 Professional.

        Increasingly, there is less and less software that only runs under Windows.  Why anyone would still develop client software that only run under Windows is beyond me.  I will flip your question around: excluding games, what software do you use which runs only under Win 7 and for which there is no Mac alternative?

      • Just Iain

        Might the answer be for Microsoft to offer discounted prices for ‘Parallels’ and XP to be run either by Win8 or even on a Mac? Until Microsoft offers a bundled pair at a reasonable price, people will not move from XP if their old box is still running.

      • http://www.asymco.com Horace Dediu

        Upgrading existing Windows users should not be considered success.

      • Anonymous

        The same thing was said about W7, that succeeded the Vista debacle. I was told by friends that it’s ‘almost’ as good as the Snow Leopard.

        Except for medium to big businesses that have to use Windows, more and more people are discovering that either OS X is a better option, or that they really don’t need a PC at all.

        I’ve just read in another blog that Wiltel tablets are going to cost $100+ more than the iPad. They may be just DOA.

        With the possibility of a poor showing of Windows Phones as well, Ballmer should be having a lot of sleepless nights.

    • http://kaizenity.blogspot.com/ FalKirk

      “Soon slate devices and smartphones will have the ability to support external keyboards, large screens, external hard drives, enhanced operating systems, etc, further eroding the need for “conventional” pc’s “-Pieter

      I think you’re slightly missing the mark, Pieter. Keyboards, large screens, external hard drives, etc. are all edge cases for smart phones and tablets. The key to the tablet (and a smart phone is just a small tablet) is not that it replaces the PC but that it does many tasks – perhaps most tasks – BETTER than the PC. The PC is not in danger of being replaced, it is in danger of being marginalized.

    • Anonymous

      Ballmer’s sleeping aids:

      • developers, developers, developers
      • windows, windows, windows
      • office, office, office

  • Anonymous

    What would be more insightful is separating what tasks are being done by people and what devices they are using. We are using more computing power than before but we are not isolating this power in a notebook or desktop anymore. There are now smartphones, tablets, smart Tv, consoles which are competing against the PC for use. Before the PC was the one stop shop that did everything but now with increasing miniturisation we can separate the tasks out to other devices which better suit the completion of the task. For reading books – most would prefer a tablet over a pc, for quick access to email – most would prefer a smartphone to a pc etc.

  • http://dberkholz.com Donnie Berkholz

    I’d love to see BlackBerry added to the “mobile as PC substitute” graph. Wonder if it would turn the past 5-7 years into a mirror image of the early ’90s (albeit more extreme).

    • http://www.asymco.com Horace Dediu

      Stay tuned.

    • http://www.asymco.com Horace Dediu

      It’s been added in an update to the post.

      • http://dberkholz.com Donnie Berkholz

        Cool, thanks! Looks very roughly equivalent to iPhone, so I guess that on the market-share graph, it would produce another region of about the same thickness. Not a huge difference but a very real one.

  • Anurag

    Thoughtful addition. However would have considered Nokia and RIM also as they are established competitor to Apple and Android. Would bet if we could split this chart into corporate versus personal/retail we can see the dominant platforms and especially the trend that most changes/disruptions are starting in retail/personal platform, as well in terms of dollar share (not the units) it is a fast growing market while enterprise might be at best a steady growth (mostly accounting for replacement sale). Tech cos cannot afford to ignore this trend.

  • MOD

    I think this is valid. There are classes of (poor) people who’s only access to the internet is via their Android phone.

    It is their only “computer”, and they don’t need anything else.

    Likewise with the Ipad replacing laptops for travelers.

  • mysterio

    Thanks for collecting and sharing this data. When I suggested the PC industry would provide useful context for the mobile discussion a few posts back, there was a lot of resistance.  Seeing the trends in living color makes a huge difference.  This is a once-in-a-generation shift in technology.

    One point:  “WinTel” should be “Microsoft PC” or something to that effect, since it includes DOS.  One of the amazing things from this chart is that the shift from text-based operating systems to the GUI is barely a blip in Microsoft’s ascendency in the late 80’s/early 90’s. This is a testament to how well Bill Gates saw and managed that fundamental shift in the computing paradigm. The WIMP GUI was just as disruptive as touch, so it’s incredible that one company was able to bridge both eras.

    Could you share the numbers?  Would also be great to see DOS vs. Windows…

    • Anonymous

      “This is a testament to how well Bill Gates…” It’s not that hard when all you have to do is copy Apple….

      • Noneofyour

        Or IBM or….

  • http://twitter.com/bennomatic bennomatic

    Great video. Little suggestion: if there’s a way you could extend the final frame for a few seconds to let the music trail off and let those final changes in status sink in, that’d be great.  In the current revision, as soon as you hit the final frame, your video ends abruptly and Google immediately overlays it with links to other videos.

  • Pingback: El impresionante crecimiento de iOS y Android()

  • Tora Harris

    Assuming this data is correct, it looks like the traditional PC is in trouble. Smartphone/Tablet market may not at the moment do everything as a full desktop, but it almost certainly will. The iPad and iPhone with iOS5 de-tethers it from the traditional computer, so there is less and less reason to use one. 

    The other thing to look as are the kids, especially the toddler to pre-teens. They quickly adapt to the touch screen interface and don’t have the mouse and keyboard baggage us commenters posting on this blog have.
     
    Their touch screen interaction in the form of parents handing them smart phones as pacifiers is getting ingrained into their minds when they are most absorbent to new things. This is combined with the fact that touch screen takes away a huge layer of abstraction and becomes so intuitive. 

    It is not likely that they will EVER come around to the mouse and keyboard paradigm. In their mind that is long gone like the typewriter for us. When they come of age to start buying computers, that is when the graph of the PC line shoots down. Then it vanishes when they get into the workplace and the new tools are written for the users of the new paradigm. It can already be seen with the touch screen interfaces at the registers in fast-food restaurants. 

    A company today must recognize this and already move towards this new reality or vanish as the development and uptake rate is longer than the decline of the incumbent products. 

    • Noneofyour

      “It is not likely that they will EVER come around to the mouse and
      keyboard paradigm. In their mind that is long gone like the typewriter
      for us.”

      I guess you don’t have kids.

      • Anonymous

        I gave my friend the basic Kindle as a gift. His six year old was wondering why it was not turning on when he was jabbing the screen with his finger!

    • Z Kariv

      Or, further, use voice combined with an artificial inteligance (Siri’s type and beyond).
      And not far behind (10 years??) the ability to collect our brain’s waves and interperate (spelling) it correctly…

  • no

    horace,

    So did you take the 50,000 number for NeXT from wikipedia
    and extrapolate it?

    I was told that US Navy had purchased 50,000
    machines but dropped the project once hardware 
    was discontinued and a large number were sitting in
    warehouses.  I learned to program it because
    one of those was sitting unused in a contractors’ SCIF.

    • http://www.asymco.com Horace Dediu

      That data is sourced from the link in the post (Jeremy Reimer)

  • Al Toy

    Really illuminates Jobs ability to sneak up on MS. The Trojan was the Ipod.

    • http://twitter.com/kirkburgess kirkburgess

      In the Bio, it seems to have been every other senior manager at apple that pushed for iPod to be windows compatible – it was Jobs who hated the idea, but reluctantly agreed to do it anyway.

  • Blah

    Does “Other” include SGI, DEC, and Sun? I would love to see those on a chart, maybe a history of workstations. They were a big part of my life.

  • http://ximagin.co/ The CW

    If the Android platform backfills into traditional computing platforms (laptops and desktops) it would be a significant threat to PCs.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=741717344 Dick Applebaum

      That’s an interesting thought…

      I think that this is where Apple, and to a somewhat lesser extent, Microsoft — has a distinct advantage over Android.

      The advantage is the stable of OS X and Windows apps that could be ported to ARM mobile devices.

      I believe that Apple is several years ahead of MS because of the cross-pollination of OS X—>iOS—>OS X.

      Most of the major APIs for OS X desktop apps have been ported [and improved] to iOS.

      With proper planning, an app could be developed (or re-developed) so that it runs on both OS X and iOS.

      Android does not have a stable of desktop apps like Office, Photoshop, iMovie, Final Cut, etc… to port to tablets or Laptops.

      • Anonymous

        True. Also, the Chrome OS doesn’t have the same relation to Android as iOS has with OS X.

      • Anonymous

        Absolutely right. It really is fascinating to watch Apple progress year after year. In hindsight, you can see that everything follows a clear strategic plan, and all the actions are just putting the pieces in place for the next move.

        I guess it really boils down to this methodical operation: the competitors clearly see what Apple is doing, but they have disregarded most of the things in the past. Now they are at least 5 years behind in critical areas and are desperately trying to take any shortcut they can think of. Ironically, they are trying to replicate the success Apple has without understanding why Apple has succeeded in the first place.

      • Anonymous

        Fiftysixty, Nicely stated. The comments in this post are so interesting because they seem to underscore how much the path Apple is on is disguised by resistance to change. The fear level is rising and the strong objections reflect that. I am watching Apple disrupt an industry I spent 25 years in (IT – since 1986) and all I hear is people screaming that it is not happening! Isn’t Horace just wonderful! -Bert

      • http://www.asymco.com Horace Dediu

        The objections are the most useful part of the discussion. If there were no objections, I’d worry either that it’s over or that incumbents will embrace the changes.

      • Just Iain

        Dick, I think a native Apple version of Parallels that could run iOS on a desktop/laptop would be a big nail in anyone else’s business plan. Imagine the interest in the Apple Desktops and laptops if people could recycle their apps. All those companies busy creating internal Corporate iPad apps could have them run without additional software to write that was focused on the desktop only.

        Yousa!

  • Anonymous

    Horace, in your last chart you left out the iPod Touch, which is also an iOS device.

  • Anonymous

    I also think we need to have multiple charts for the high end, the medium end, and the low end computers. For example, in tablets, I would quantify the Amazon Kindle Reader as low end, the B&N Nook, Kindle Fire, and iPod Touch as medium end, and the iPad as high end. For PC, I’d quantify the netbooks as low end, IPads and lower end portables as medium end, and high end portables and desktops as high end.

    Clearly, there are many shades of grey that spread between these major spectrums, but you get the idea.

  • Anonymous

    Sensationalist headline. Personal computing has not fallen in fact it’s never been so personal with smartphones and tablets like the ipad which are configured for single use and not multiple users.

    • Anonymous

      I’d say the headline is slightly off. It should say “The rise and fall of the traditional personal computer”. It’s a small difference, but an important one.

      • http://www.asymco.com Horace Dediu

        These new devices will never be called personal computers. They may be called phones or tablets or something new altogether but you can be sure they’ll never be PCs. PCs were originally more accurately named “microcomputers” but the PC moniker took off after the branding from IBM.

      • Anonymous

        I get it. But I think kankerot was thinking of “personal” computer, not “Personal Computer”.

      • Anonymous

        http://www.asymco.com/2012/01/16/apple-is-the-top-personal-computer-vendor/#comment-413872842

        But you like to call Apple a personal computer vendor and include ipads. Is it personal or Personal?

        Either way its sophistry and you should stick to one definition but you can’t as it means you cant write some new fluff about Apple by fudging the description.

        Why dont you include console sales, smart Tv, and any electronic gadget into the mix?

      • Richard Lamsdale

        I get your point but I think you’re being needlessly antagonistic – the great majority of people would define a computer as something on which you can check email, browse the web and produce documents (letters, spreadsheets, presentations). Other functions are peripheral to most people, so games console or smart TV or camera wouldn’t qualify. The lines between devices are becoming blurred but that doesn’t mean there aren’t interesting conclusions to be drawn – they just need to be carefully framed and presented.

  • Mike

    I’m not totally buying this. People go through cell phones at worst once every other year. A lot of people get phones more often than that. People replace desktops/laptops every 4-5 years. This does not necessarily mean that mobile is replacing the PC

    • http://www.asymco.com Horace Dediu

      If we look at penetration in terms of devices per capita, mobile (including non-smartphones) is far higher than traditional computers. My expectation is that several of these emergent platforms will be well over the 1 billion/yr mark in a few years.

    • http://wmilliken.livejournal.com/ Walter Milliken

      I don’t think the typical corporate desktop replacement cycle is 4-5 years, though recently it has been longer than usual. I believe the typical historical value is more on the order of 3 years. Whether the longer recent PC cycle will persist is an open question, I think, though I do believe businesses are questioning the need for as-frequent upgrades as they’ve done in the past.

    • Anonymous

      If you look at how much people spend on PCs per year versus “mobile computing” per year (devices + data plans) you’re likely to find out that PCs lose. If you look at how those figures have developed historically, you can see a trend. And no, I don’t have the data to prove that, but rough calculations clearly point to that (Finnish prices):

      iPhone unlocked ~600€ + data plan 10€ per month for 24 months = 840€.
      Yearly that makes 420€.

      If the PC replacement cycle is 4 years, then the ASP would have to be 1680€ to match the iPhone. Clearly it’s not, not even for Apple.

      You could argue that the smartphone ASP is way lower, and I’d agree. But according to Tomi Ahonen, the average smartphone replacement cycle is now 11.5 months. Using that figure we’d get a yearly spending of about 720€ for the iPhone. Even if you disregard the data plan and concentrate solely on the hardware, PCs still lose.

      Money speaks, and as Horace posits, the PC era is in decline.

  • Doji

    what input can you share with us in terms of any response from apple for low end price disruption to compete with android in mobile computing(tablets, smartphones).

    • http://www.asymco.com Horace Dediu

      I have no input from Apple except what Tim Cook says in every conference call. The following are quotes from meetings with analysts:
      • Prepaid market? “Anyone who tries to sell a full-functioning pre-paid phone deals with the same issues as we do. In all of our markets, we know there are large groups of people who are not served.” • Pricing? “We are selling the 3GS in many markets, it’s free in many markets; it’s $49 in the US. We are very happy. We are very happy with the number of iPhone sales. Growing 2x.” • How do you look at the emerging markets? “We have very high share in our subsidized market. When you look at the unsubsidized markets, what the users see is the price of the phone. In some countries, customers are very sensitive to that; would like to boil down to price only, which is wrong.”

    • Anonymous

      There’s always the iPod Touch and Skype or Tango….

  • Mike

    Perhaps we should start referring to smartphones as “handheld computers” to go alongside “tablet computers, “laptop computers,” and “desktop computers.”

    • Anonymous

      I’ve always liked the term “pocket computer” myself.

      • Anonymous

        Yeah…

        Is that pc a PC?

      • Anonymous

        Or – is that a PC in your pocket or are  you just happy to see me….

      • Just Iain

        Actually I think it should be “Is that an Android phone or are you still reading paperbacks” 

      • Kizedek

        Oooh, I think oversized smartphone screens just got slated.

  • John Morgan

    There’s something very satisfying in seeing my lifetime of computer interaction represented so compactly.

    Small thing that bothered me when looking for patterns – in the market share plots, new entrants are being introduced at the bottom of the chart, except for phones and tablets, which are introduced at the top.  In order to see the historical pattern they should continue to be introduced at the bottom.  Also, iPod Touch.

    • Kizedek

      I think it helps being the way it is: the symmetry gives a domed curve to the central PC share, so that you can see it rising and falling.

  • Darwinphish

    Horace,

    First off, this is excellent work.  Some may still argue that the iPad et al are not PC’s, but they are personal computing devices and its great to see them all in one set of graphs.

    Did you considered including pre-smartphone handheld computer sales (e.g. Palm, Windows CE and Psion/early Symbian)?  If you are interested, I have estimated total yearly numbers from 1994-2005.

    • http://www.asymco.com Horace Dediu

      Yes, I am interested, please send to horace.dediu at asymco.com

    • Anonymous

      Jeez. I guess you’d have to include the Newton then….

    • Richard Lamsdale

      This is my reaction as well – iOS and Android haven’t only taken share from the PC – a great deal of their gain has come at the expense of Symbian, Windows Mobile, Palm and RIM. If they were included (which is debatable – I am struggling to see a Symbian phone as a replacement for a computer, but that is also partly true of iOS and Android) then I believe the drop-off in PC share would look much less severe.

      • Sander van der Wal

        The Nokia Communicator and the SonyEricsson P900 were very close to being laptop replacements for people who only needs were some light web browsing and emailing. 

        The old Psion Series 5 and netBook were laptop replacements, especially the netBook. Best traveling computers I had, before the iPad.

      • Richard Lamsdale

        Good point – I was thinking more about the Symbian phones such as the N95 – great phone in it’s day, OK for email, pretty bad for most other PC functions.

      • Darwinphish

        The issues is not just whether one type of device directly replaces another type (i.e. buying an Palm Pilot instead of a laptop), but also to show how new devices can restrict the growth of incumbent devices.  Many buyers of handhelds, smartphones and tablets may have never purchased a traditional PC. 

      • Darwinphish

        The issues is not just whether one type of device directly replaces another type (i.e. buying an Palm Pilot instead of a laptop), but also to show how new devices can restrict the growth of incumbent devices.  Many buyers of handhelds, smartphones and tablets may have never purchased a traditional PC. 

  • Anonymous

    You can see this anecdotally as well. I know a couple that in 2009 had 2 BlackBerry phones and shared a Windows XP PC, but today they have 2 iPhones, an iPad, an AppleTV, and they hardly use the Windows PC anymore. All of the Apple devices get more use than the Windows PC. And they are debating whether the Windows PC gets replaced with a MacBook Pro or an iMac. No Windows PC is even being evaluated. These are the furthest thing from Apple fanboys that you can imagine. Not computer people at all. It started when the bought an iPad to take with them.

    • BrBill

      Similar deal for me. Longtime PC guy here, with some Mac experience, built dozens, been developing on PC for years. At home we are now all Mac, but I still run Windows on VMWare Fusion. When I need it. Which is something like 2 nonconsecutive weeks a year, when I’m doing Windows development.

  • Pingback: Will Android be the death of PCs? | androidless.net()

  • http://wmilliken.livejournal.com/ Walter Milliken

    I think one of the big drivers in this disruption will be the third world, where low-powered mobile computing may be the first viable access to computing power for many people. This has already happened in the telecom industry, where many nations have ignored landline deployments in favor of cell towers. I believe similar infrastructure and economic considerations should strongly favor early adoption of mobile computing platforms over traditional PCs in these markets, once sufficiently-capable platforms are both sufficiently easy to use without significant training, and drop in price enough to be affordable (which may indeed be happening already).

  • Rob Scott

    The last graph reminded me of the Roadkill Memo:

    “Our feat, and believe me I do not mean to belittle it, has been to ride this wave of technology and maintain or increase our relative position.   The correct way to measure this position, and thus our market share, is as a fraction of worldwide CPU cycles consumed by our products. (As an aside, the evolution of the information highway will cause this market share metric to evolve as well.  Rather than measuring the fraction of the worlds computing cycles executed by our software, we will have to look at share of both CPU cycles as well as total data transmitted.)
    Maintaining CPU cycle share is very hard to do, because the right mix of products and technology to do this at various points in time changes a lot.   Companies that have point products or which only extrapolate linearly will fail.  So far, we have often been the beneficiary because we have been able to reinvent the company at each point along the line.
    The bad news about this is that we will have to continue to do so, and at a rate which continues to increase.   It will impossible for us to maintain our historical growth curves unless we maintain our CPU cycle share and that means that we must do two things: continue to bring new technology to our existing products, and at the same time create new product lines to track the emergence of computing in new mass markets.  
    One aspect of the price/performance trend discussed above is that a PC class machine will get amazingly powerful, but an equal consequence is that extremely cheap consumer computing devices will emerge with the same or higher computing power than today’s PCs, but with far higher volume.   The bulk of the worlds’ computing cycles come near the low end, high volume part of the market.  Any software company that wants to maintain its relative share of total CPU cycles must have products that are relevant to the high volume segment of the market.  If you don’t, then you are vulnerable to a software company that does establishes a position there and then rides the technology curve up to the mainstream.   This is what the PC industry did to mainframes and minicomputers, and if we in the PC industry are not careful this fate will befall us as well.”

  • Rob Scott

    The last graph reminded me of the Roadkill Memo:

    “Our feat, and believe me I do not mean to belittle it, has been to ride this wave of technology and maintain or increase our relative position.   The correct way to measure this position, and thus our market share, is as a fraction of worldwide CPU cycles consumed by our products. (As an aside, the evolution of the information highway will cause this market share metric to evolve as well.  Rather than measuring the fraction of the worlds computing cycles executed by our software, we will have to look at share of both CPU cycles as well as total data transmitted.)
    Maintaining CPU cycle share is very hard to do, because the right mix of products and technology to do this at various points in time changes a lot.   Companies that have point products or which only extrapolate linearly will fail.  So far, we have often been the beneficiary because we have been able to reinvent the company at each point along the line.
    The bad news about this is that we will have to continue to do so, and at a rate which continues to increase.   It will impossible for us to maintain our historical growth curves unless we maintain our CPU cycle share and that means that we must do two things: continue to bring new technology to our existing products, and at the same time create new product lines to track the emergence of computing in new mass markets.  
    One aspect of the price/performance trend discussed above is that a PC class machine will get amazingly powerful, but an equal consequence is that extremely cheap consumer computing devices will emerge with the same or higher computing power than today’s PCs, but with far higher volume.   The bulk of the worlds’ computing cycles come near the low end, high volume part of the market.  Any software company that wants to maintain its relative share of total CPU cycles must have products that are relevant to the high volume segment of the market.  If you don’t, then you are vulnerable to a software company that does establishes a position there and then rides the technology curve up to the mainstream.   This is what the PC industry did to mainframes and minicomputers, and if we in the PC industry are not careful this fate will befall us as well.”

  • Pingback: Will Android be the death of PCs? | Hi Android()

  • http://twitter.com/kirkburgess kirkburgess

    “Given time, I think Apple will address the lower price points but they will do it with an integrated offering of service and product.”
    That’s an interesting prediction Horace. When you say “Service” are you referring to apple offering a content subscription of some kind in exchange for subsidized hardware – or apple selling a wireless subscription (or reselling someone else’s service)?

    • http://www.asymco.com Horace Dediu

      Think of the way they bundled the iPad with a SIM card. The service had to be pay as you go and no strings attached.

      • Anonymous

        So Apple does not have to offer a wireless service cheaper/more flexible than what is currently available – it “encourages” other third parties to do it for them.

        Are you inferring that rather than try and compete with lower prices in the Prepaid handset market, Apple may try to get those customers to instead spend more upfront on a more expensive device, and in return get an “Exclusive apple-device-only” discounted prepaid wireless service from their carrier?

  • peter parker

    Do you
    have anything against refurbished computers? I have saved a lot from buying
    refurbished items and the products I get have always been good quality and
    last longer than some things I have bought new. I have a Dell Optiplex GX520
    that I bought refurbished for about $119 once during a holiday deal about two
    years ago from ‘ElectroComputerWarehouse’. It still works great and it serves
    its purpose. It’s great for surfing the net, watching DVDs and other tasks.
    You may check for you as well http://www.electrocomputerwarehouse.com

  • http://twitter.com/osma Osma Ahvenlampi

    Would like to see this charted as not units shipped per year, but as active deployed base, counting in the replacement cycle (2-4 years, probably). Is the data available?

  • Pingback: Jasonmcdermott » The rise and fall of personal computing()

  • http://twitter.com/multiplex multiplex

    You might want to take into account that a single old-skool PC is the equivalent of 2-4 new-skool devices due to the shorter upgrade cycle and lower cost (capex and in term of end-user pain). That would put things more in perspective.

  • http://twitter.com/multiplex multiplex

    You might want to take into account that a single old-skool PC is the equivalent of 2-4 new-skool devices due to the shorter upgrade cycle and lower cost (capex and in term of end-user pain). That would put things more in perspective.

  • http://twitter.com/TezelYigit Yigit Tezel

    Don’t you find it a bit odd that you can not do any of this research&analysis with an Ipad but yet you define it in the same category?

    • Anonymous

      Why wouldn’t you be able to do any of it on an iPad?

      • drew_reece

        Lack of opposable thumbs?

      • drew_reece

        Lack of opposable thumbs?

    • Studentrights

      Really? You apparently haven’t tried.

    • Anonymous

      What do you mean by “research&analysis”? Are you saying you can’t input a table of numbers and produce a chart? If that’s your definition of personal computing, then apply it to each and every device in the chart and see what you are left with. Did the TRS-80 have spreadsheet software? I dunno.

      • Michael

        ChKen, yes, the TRS-80 had VisiCalc and Multiplan.

      • Now I feel old…

        Multiplan (later known as Excel) shipped first on the Mac in 1984, well after the TRS-80 had gone into decline. VisiCalc ran on TRS-DOS on the Model III and CoCo. Those of us who had TRS-80 Model Is did not have access to a spreadsheet.

        My favorite boot sequence ever:
        MEMSIZE?
        R/S L2 Basic>

      • http://twitter.com/TezelYigit Yigit Tezel

        Don’t think only as Softwares. An other issue is about the ergonomi ( use of a mouse, screen size )

    • http://twitter.com/leicaman leicaman

      First post is someone who has no experience with a technology under discussion. Hilarious.

      I know a man who runs a college and does all his work on an iPad. And they are very progressive and quite successful.

    • http://twitter.com/leicaman leicaman

      First post is someone who has no experience with a technology under discussion. Hilarious.

      I know a man who runs a college and does all his work on an iPad. And they are very progressive and quite successful.

    • http://twitter.com/leicaman leicaman

      First post is someone who has no experience with a technology under discussion. Hilarious.

      I know a man who runs a college and does all his work on an iPad. And they are very progressive and quite successful.

    • http://teapartynews.us David H Dennis

      The chart looks like it was created with Numbers.  Pages, Keynote and Numbers are all available for iPad and work great.

      An external keyboard (which I have now) works wonders with iPad for doing serious work.  It’s probably still easier to use a Macintosh, and that’s most likely what he uses, because you can have multiple windows open and copy between them more easily.

      I’ve seen about three or four articles from people who have dumped their computers for iPads, so to say it’s not a threat to traditional computing is to stick your head in the sand.

      However, I will admit that I own iMac, iPad and iPhone, and use all three every day. It is probable that for most people with substantial computing needs, the devices supplement each other instead of replacing each other.  This probably describes you, me and most people interested in the subject matter here.

      Don’t forget people with lesser resources and fewer needs, however.  My business partner’s son is using an iPhone as his sole computing device – much better than having none at all.  And people in the third world are doing the same thing – their cheap Android phones, which are bought as phones, are often used as their primary access to the web as well.  Before then, they had to go to expensive (for them) pay per use Internet cafes, so the small device is actually a big step up.

      So globally, Asymco’s third graph is highly realistic.  What’s not shown is that the much lower cost of entry has enormously expanded the market and is serving people who have had to do without before.  That’s a great achievement for phone designers, and Apple has led the way in making it possible, by creating the basic design then copied by cheapo Android vendors who snap up most of the sales in poor countries.

      D

      (This post was written on my iMac, but could have certainly been written on my iPad with external keyboard and it would have been written just as well.  It just happened that I saw this page when browsing the web on my computer.)

      • http://twitter.com/TezelYigit Yigit Tezel

        Well, It is obvious that there are things that you can do even better that PC. 

        What I really try to say it is a bit early for a compare. Probably in 10 years the only place to see a desktop computers will be museums. 

        Also with the NFC there will be times we will discuss creadit cards sales with mobile phones sales. 

        I might sound like a j**k but I really didn’t mean it.  

    • http://teapartynews.us David H Dennis

      The chart looks like it was created with Numbers.  Pages, Keynote and Numbers are all available for iPad and work great.

      An external keyboard (which I have now) works wonders with iPad for doing serious work.  It’s probably still easier to use a Macintosh, and that’s most likely what he uses, because you can have multiple windows open and copy between them more easily.

      I’ve seen about three or four articles from people who have dumped their computers for iPads, so to say it’s not a threat to traditional computing is to stick your head in the sand.

      However, I will admit that I own iMac, iPad and iPhone, and use all three every day. It is probable that for most people with substantial computing needs, the devices supplement each other instead of replacing each other.  This probably describes you, me and most people interested in the subject matter here.

      Don’t forget people with lesser resources and fewer needs, however.  My business partner’s son is using an iPhone as his sole computing device – much better than having none at all.  And people in the third world are doing the same thing – their cheap Android phones, which are bought as phones, are often used as their primary access to the web as well.  Before then, they had to go to expensive (for them) pay per use Internet cafes, so the small device is actually a big step up.

      So globally, Asymco’s third graph is highly realistic.  What’s not shown is that the much lower cost of entry has enormously expanded the market and is serving people who have had to do without before.  That’s a great achievement for phone designers, and Apple has led the way in making it possible, by creating the basic design then copied by cheapo Android vendors who snap up most of the sales in poor countries.

      D

      (This post was written on my iMac, but could have certainly been written on my iPad with external keyboard and it would have been written just as well.  It just happened that I saw this page when browsing the web on my computer.)

    • Mau S

      You are trying to be a jerk but you managed to look stupid.

    • http://www.asymco.com Horace Dediu

      It’s not just odd, it’s amazing.

    • jason gray

      It isn’t related to being able to do work on competing devices. The fight is over the choice made to upgrade one piece of technology or another. If the PC you own is pretty much good enough to do those bits of research&analysis work – and let’s face it, any PC bought since the C2D days running Windows7 is more than good enough for 90% of work requirements – your motivation is much higher to upgrade to a mobile device which supplements those things, and has a more vibrant developer ecosystem. So the time between upgrades on PC’s becomes more protracted, and this gray mass of sundry mobile devices is at the moment far more compelling for a growing number of people.

    • http://www.asymco.com Horace Dediu

      What makes you think I can’t? All the tools I use are available on the iPad.

  • Pingback: The conditions for survival and prosperity | asymco()

  • Candidcamel

    I predict the death of all devices…having owned a dozen pcs since 1991 when I needed to get up to speed for a Fed Job…I got hooked…coming from an educational background…as the years have flown by, I am now down to a laptop and find I use it less and less. Most of the folks I communicate with could get by with a gaming & email device as they use their PCs and laptops for gaming only; however, I am done with gaming…The Thrill Is Gone…wish I had my original PC back to be more creative…but the need is gone…The RAPID increase of no-real brains needed to negotiate and manipulate graphics, pictures, text, the death of jobs related to so many technological advances and the reality of a need for too much info in 2 secs (iphone 4G—OMGG): with the dying of the camera and more…The Computer and related products have re-ignited my original thought…”you may just be the Anti-Christ!”
    Forgive my stream of consciousness ramblings…but it is an AHDH Social Society…and LOL…Social Websites are actually Anti-Social Websites!

  • Candidcamel

    I predict the death of all devices…having owned a dozen pcs since 1991 when I needed to get up to speed for a Fed Job…I got hooked…coming from an educational background…as the years have flown by, I am now down to a laptop and find I use it less and less. Most of the folks I communicate with could get by with a gaming & email device as they use their PCs and laptops for gaming only; however, I am done with gaming…The Thrill Is Gone…wish I had my original PC back to be more creative…but the need is gone…The RAPID increase of no-real brains needed to negotiate and manipulate graphics, pictures, text, the death of jobs related to so many technological advances and the reality of a need for too much info in 2 secs (iphone 4G—OMGG): with the dying of the camera and more…The Computer and related products have re-ignited my original thought…”you may just be the Anti-Christ!”
    Forgive my stream of consciousness ramblings…but it is an AHDH Social Society…and LOL…Social Websites are actually Anti-Social Websites!

  • Bill

    The picture that shows the iPad as the first device to disrupt the impression of PC dominance does not include the other small computing devices that were available in the late 1990’s. The Palm device, the Pocket PC (running MS WinCE) and yes, the Newton, are not shown. If you’re going to include IOS devices and Android, you must include the others.

    Terrific post, nevertheless!

    • http://netcropolis.org W. Ian Blanton

      Agreed. What’s interesting is that on these charts, the 90’s look like a dead period for new devices; even though as you point out, there were a number of devices that should be counted.

      • Anonymous

        I don’t think any of those count.

        PocketPC devices were a footnote*, the Newton as well, and none of the Palms in the 90s did any better in terms of being “personal computing” – no network access**, and they were in essence just an adjunct to your real computer.

        There’s a reason they were “portable digital assistants”.

        (* I owned two of them. And I have a Newton, too. And had a Palm III. So I was there, had the stuff, remember using it.

        And they are irrelevant in this context, though they were useful foreshadowing of the modern handheld computer/phone/tablet. But they can’t replace a PC like one of those can, for general computer-use tasks.

        **Palms did eventually get that, but in the 2000s, and by being Palm-branded Windows Mobile devices. Which still sucked, because WMP7 is the first version of Windows Mobile that hasn’t completely sucked.)

      • Bill

        I couldn’t disagree more, and I find myself wondering what in the world you were doing wasting money on these devices, since you failed to utilize any of them to their full potential. For example, the 1999 Casio pocket PC had a spectacular (for its time) color screen and had a WiFi card that you inserted in the top of the unit, and it had a very capable web browser. Also, it could play full-length movies, as well as music and ebooks and audio books, as well as program applications. It had everything that the iPod had, eight years earlier.

        Also, there were smart phones before the (admittedly superior) iPhone; I had a Palm Treo for years. My only question has to do with sales figures, which I reiterate belong in the above graphs.

    • http://netcropolis.org W. Ian Blanton

      Agreed. What’s interesting is that on these charts, the 90’s look like a dead period for new devices; even though as you point out, there were a number of devices that should be counted.

  • Bill

    The picture that shows the iPad as the first device to disrupt the impression of PC dominance does not include the other small computing devices that were available in the late 1990’s. The Palm device, the Pocket PC (running MS WinCE) and yes, the Newton, are not shown. If you’re going to include IOS devices and Android, you must include the others.

    Terrific post, nevertheless!

  • KAJoneslaw

    I wonder if it would be illuminating to add another data set to your graph, almost another axis.  Understanding the 100% is always the whole market, but obviously over time, that market has expanded.  So the percentage of computing devices shipped in 2010 that are Windows is a significantly larger number of actual devices than Windows’s larger percentage of computing devices shipped say in 2002.  
    The way to show that on the graph would be for your last graph itself to be superimposed on a graph of the total number of computing devices shipped over time (PC + iPad + iPhone + Android).  I do not have the skill to make that graph, but I my intuition tells me that it would be interesting to the discussion.  

  • KAJoneslaw

    I wonder if it would be illuminating to add another data set to your graph, almost another axis.  Understanding the 100% is always the whole market, but obviously over time, that market has expanded.  So the percentage of computing devices shipped in 2010 that are Windows is a significantly larger number of actual devices than Windows’s larger percentage of computing devices shipped say in 2002.  
    The way to show that on the graph would be for your last graph itself to be superimposed on a graph of the total number of computing devices shipped over time (PC + iPad + iPhone + Android).  I do not have the skill to make that graph, but I my intuition tells me that it would be interesting to the discussion.  

  • Anonymous

    The biggest problem with these graphs is that the entities are NOT MUTUALLY EXCLUSIVE.  

    For example, people often have a Mac, an iPhone, and an iPad.  The sale of either a Mac or iPhone or iPad often leads to the sale of the others.

    Another example: smartphones lead to the sale of a PC or Mac because they are dependent on a PC or Mac to store their data, for backups, etc.  You cannot store 25,000 songs or photos or videos in the cloud to download to a smartphone – the cloud is too slow.  It also may be unreliable – I wouldn’t store my precious photos solely in the cloud, for example.

    Thus, the sale of smartphones DRIVES THE SALE of PCs and Macs. This is NOTHING for Intel or Microsoft to fear.  

    Intel and Microsoft’s problem is that they are not also profiting from the sale of smartphones like Apple is.

    And certainly for smartphone makers other than Apple, they don’t profit much from selling smartphones anyway. Apple pulls in the profits.  Intel and Microsoft are highly profitable also. 

    • Anonymous

      The early smartphones and tablets needed to be tethered to a PC to side load data and apps- but not anymore. Most iPhone/Android users now download music/apps/os updates etc right on the phone. Also, this generation has a mindset of Computing = Facebook/iTunes/eBay/Amazon/Word/Excel = PC. Computing is synonymous with a PC in most peoples minds today. But that mindset is changing, and the kids coming up all use mobile devices primarily, with only some getting PCs (that will fill a role more akin to Workstation computers of the 90’s) to do heavier computing tasks that most people simply never do. Mobile is indeed stealing a huge share – call it Casual Computing –  from the established PC industry. Your assertion that smartphones/iPads drive the sale of PCs is wrong – they displace PCs.

      • Anonymous

        Sorry but NO.  The market got bigger for computing devices.  That’s all.

        Smartphones hardly have storage.  They simply do not have the power to do what PCs do.  Cloud storage is a joke.

        Sure, light level tasks can be done by smartphones and tablets.  But they can’t do what PCs do. And people will outgrow what a smartphone and tablet can do and will then need a PC too.

        If your needs are minimal, the you won’t need a PC anyway and would have never gotten one.

      • Anonymous

        As an example, I use to read PDFs on my iPad.  I put hundreds of books on it.

        But after a while, I realized that the iPad is just too slow and the screen is just too small.

        I now prefer to read on my 17″ MacBook Pro.  It is much more efficient and quick to read my books on the MacBook Pro than the iPad.

        For reading, the iPad and iPhone are too inefficient for me.

        For slower readers, perhaps they are good enough. 

      • http://www.asymco.com Horace Dediu

        Good one.

      • Anonymous

        Are you implying that you’re capable of reading faster than the iPad can scroll the PDFs?

      • Justin

        Video editing uses more power than most of the tasks that people use computers for. Yet you can do video editing on an iPhone, with the biggest inconvenience being the size of the screen, not the amount of processing power. In fact, whole industries got along fine editing video on computers that now days would have a fraction of the power current smartphones and tablets have.

        Even if you needs are quite large, current tablets are more than enough. What you’re talking about are increasingly niche uses.

        I prefer to use my iPad to read. Speed has never been a problem. Maybe you’re reading graphics heavy or poorly make eBooks?

    • Anonymous

      That was my instant critique as well.

      It’s not so much that “the PC is going away” because we all have a smartphone and/or tablet; it’s that the market got a hell of a lot bigger, and PCs are a smaller percentage of this vastly increased market.

      Some people will happily use a tablet rather than a PC, for everything, but the vast majority of even tablet owners (such as myself) use them in addition to a traditional PC.

      This is even more true of the smartphone market, where it’s a really, really poor replacement good for a traditional PC.

      (On the other hand, having seen how most people handle backups – which is to say, not having any backups, -I suspect that cloud storage of their data is going to improve data security.

      So there’s that.)

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Shameer-Mulji/1685212657 Shameer Mulji


        It’s not so much that “the PC is going away” because we all have a smartphone and/or tablet; it’s that the market got a hell of a lot bigger, and PCs are a smaller percentage of this vastly increased market.”

        Exactly. This comment sums up nicely what’s happening in personal computing today and probably going forward as well.

      • Just Iain

        Sigivald, I would question any improvement on data security. Yes if that is your only backup. Until we have rock solid cloud storage, I wouldn’t trust some bean counter to suddenly decide the only copies of my photos stored on ‘his’ site are not profitable and can be just destroyed by closing the site. 

      • http://www.asymco.com Horace Dediu

        Indeed they are not mutually exclusive. There are still mainframes around. You can even use a horse for transportation. In some places you can only use a horse.

      • Anonymous

        What you’re describing is precisely what is happening: a disruption.

    • kibbles

      incorrect: at least in the case of an iPhone or iPad, one does not need a PC. i support many such users. they do not have 25,000 songs as this is likely atypical. many of these users dont even care for digital music all that much; the jukebox features of iOS are not what they use them for primarily.

      • Anonymous

        Of course.  Not everyone needs a PC.  

        But anyone that needs substantial computing tasks will need a PC or Mac.  An iPhone or iPad is too miminalistic for many people.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Shameer-Mulji/1685212657 Shameer Mulji


        An iPhone or iPad is too miminalistic for many people.”

        For now.  Around 4 years from I anticipate that will change drastically where tablets, smartphones & the software driving them will be powerful enough for the vast majority of users to do even substantial tasks.

      • Anonymous

        I would rephrase that as “Most don’t need a PC.”

        There are, and likely always will be, tasks that require a PC, or if not require then at least the PC will be so much better suited for the task that it won’t make sense to use other alternatives. But that doesn’t mean that even a majority of tasks fall into that category.

    • Anonymous

      “Intel and Microsoft’s problem is that they are not also profiting from the sale of smartphones like Apple is.”

      Yes they are.  They are, at least M$ is.  They’re suing Android using phone/tablet manufacturers over vague patents they don’t disclose.  Because they’re not threatening Google directly they can’t do anything about it.

      • http://twitter.com/fivetonsflax fivetonsflax

        That’s a few bucks per handset, nothing like the $hundreds Apple makes from each iPhone sale.

      • Anonymous

        Microsoft is making pocket change on Android.  They aren’t making the lion’s share of the cell phone market like Apple.  Apple makes 60%+ of the profits in the cell phone industry.

    • Peej

      You say “the sale of smartphones drives the sale of PCs…” but looking at the data, I do not see a bump in PC sales corresponding to the introduction of the smartphone market.

      I’m not saying your assumption doesn’t seem plausible, just that the data apparently doesn’t support it.

  • Pingback: Apple’s Education Event | Ken Kinard()

  • george

    Android is shown as one entry in the video.  iOS should also be shown as one entry.  That should be staggering with the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad taken together.

    • Crap

      Feel free to combine those numbers in your head, to fulfill all your fanboi needs.

      The author explained why they are divided…

    • Anonymous

      As of … September, October? … of last year, when Apple announced the iPhone 4S, there were ~250m iOS devices shipped worldwide.  Within a week, Google announced that they had activated ~190m devices worldwide.  Given the ridiculous quarter that the iPhone/iPad/iPod touch had over the holidays, I see no reason to believe that that ratio has shifted significantly towards Android.  If anything, given what other reports are saying about market share being stolen by iOS last quarter, the gap looks to have increased.

      So go right ahead, people, and dismiss the Apple “fanbois”.  But the numbers indicate that Android isn’t quite the overwhelming powerhouse you Android “fanbois” would want the world to believe.

      I think, also, that these numbers are not reflected accurately in the last percentage graph on the page above.  The proportions should be much higher for iOS devices, if you are going to include all of them.  They should certainly be higher than the proportion taken by Android.

      And if you want to argue my numbers, then you’d better take it up with Google executives.  This is a part of their official Q3-CY2011 report and conference call.  If they under-represented the activations, then they’ve violated SEC rules.  Significantly.

  • kibbles

    agreed

  • Pingback: The rise and rise of … | Koer.sk()

  • Pingback: Pub Options & Tools | Butcher, Baker()

  • Pingback: Is the iPad a Personal Computer? | My Distribution Law()

  • Anonymous

    Why are the charts using log scale? 

    I don’t think its necessarily an accurate representation of the data. From the chart as is, it looks as if the PC and Mac is losing some momentum the last 5 to 10 years, but that’s purely because of the log scale. If anything these product groups are growing as they always have.

    The log scale also downplays the ridiculous jump Android, iPhone and iPad have.

    I also fail to see any “fall” of personal computing in these charts. PCs are on the rise, Macs are on the rise, smartphones and tablets are just additional form factors and they too are on the rise.

  • Pingback: Android Devices Projected To Surpass PC Sales Next Year | WebProNews()

  • Mike

    You’re just using LOG scale to fool the readers… PC sales are 10 times higher than iPad, even if they are very close on your graph.

    • Sam Greene

      Log scale is used so you can see the lower movements.

    • http://www.asymco.com Horace Dediu

      That’s like saying that warning signs are used to fool the illiterate.

  • http://twitter.com/peterl Peter Laudenslager

    I think there is a great deal of room for confusion over the idea of “replacing the PC”.  I do not believe that Horace’s point is that everyone will discard their Windows laptops for iPads.  However, the traditional PC could lose its place in the market as the most often purchased, most often used, and most often targeted (by developers).

    Today, when we think of a computer, we think (mostly) of Windows based PCs – and at that, largely laptops.  When personal computers came out, they weren’t called “personal computers”, they were called “micro-computers”, to distinguish them from their larger, more sophisticated cousins, the mini-computers and mainframes.  Half a century ago, when you talked about a computer, you were talking about a mainframe.  10 years ago, when you talked about a computer, you were almost always talking about a Windows computer.  Mainframes still exist, but they are now a niche class of computing.

    Horace’s graphs are a little bit misleading, in that they start with a bunch of personal computer brands that no longer exist, and end with a new personal computer brand that is showing rapid growth.  The insight is not that Microsoft / Intel / Windows, or even laptops and desktops will no longer exist.  The insight is that the style of computing that is most commonplace today could become a niche, and the brands that support only that style may become less valuable.

    That there are tasks for which a laptop is likely to remain the better choice does not diminish the dramatic impact of these new styles of computing.  When I was in high school, only computer geeks played with computers, and I was one of the rare students who had one at home.  15 years later, most people I knew had at least one and maybe several computers at home, and everyone used them – kids, grandparents, and all of them non-computer geeks.  Today, it is the rare high school student (and some elementary school students!) who doesn’t carry a smart phone (pocket computer) with them everywhere they go.  It is true that this computer has some shortcomings compared to the average laptop, but it is better in almost every technical dimension than the best computer I ever used when I was in high school.

    The world to envision from these graphs is not one where everyone throws away their laptop and replaces it with a tablet.  Instead, imagine a world where for every laptop in a household, there are 3-5 smartphones and tablets, and that we spend as much time using these smaller devices as the laptop.  Honestly, I think we are there now, and the true future is one where everyone has a smartphone and a tablet, and only the computer geeks have laptops (again).

  • Pingback: Extreme Analysis: Android, iOS Will Kill the PC | Lose Your Fear()

  • http://openid.aliz.es/Anonymous Anonymous

    Yeah those PCs manufactured after 2000 just disappeared right?

  • Pingback: 10 Mid-Week PM Reads | The Big Picture()

  • http://twitter.com/TezelYigit Yigit Tezel

    As a second thought Android and Iphone sales will boost up faster than PC’s. 
    The average time of buying a new mobile phone is 18-24 months  but in PC’s it is 24-36 months*. So for mobile phones will add new sales and 1.3 times faster sales to existing users.

    *unfortinally I couldn’t find exact times.

  • Pingback: Extreme Analysis: Android, iOS Will Kill the PC | Technology Magazine()

  • Pingback: Android and iOS said to contribute to the fall of personal computing | EMKWAN - GEEK LIFESTYLE REVIEWS AND VIEWS - EMKWAN PROJECT™()

  • Anonymous

    could you also draw in the total number of people living? I guess that grows similarly. Maybe you even know where those units are sold to. Worldwide? US only?

  • Jeff Petherick

    You can’t ‘simply’ compare mobile devices with the PC market. PC’s are multifunctional devices that do things that most mobile devices can’t do.
    You can’t sit at your desk a do a days work on an iphone or ipad.
    It’s a stupid comparison.
    They may be an alternative device, that people use when they are away from their desktop pc or laptop, but they certainly aren’t replacing them as such just yet for the majority of people.
    I think your article has interesting information, but compare apples with apples in terms of functionality and tipical usage scenarios. I haven’t heard anyone say “I think I’ll buy an iPad instead of buying a PC”. It’s usually “I’ll get an iPad as well as a laptop/dekstop pc”

    • Anonymous Coward

      Look at the Asus Transformer Prime with Tegra 3. IMO it’s all that a writer would need, for example. And more than enough for web browsing (including youtube) and mail checking.

      The only justification I can still find for my noisy, power-hungry desktop PC is programming. But programming, 3D graphics, CAD/CAE etc. are all highly specialized uses, which will unlikely make up for the bulk of computing devices in the future – whereas the desktop PC was the bulk of the market for a few decades.

      Also, your smartphone today is several orders of magnitude more powerful than the PCs of yonder, runs a much more sofisticated OS, many more applications, and you _can_ do more things with it than with the PC of the 80s.

      So IMO the comparison _is_ about apples to apples.

    • http://www.asymco.com Horace Dediu

      Your statement assumes that “doing a day’s work” is what all computers do. If there are computers which are not used for that purpose then surely there might be substitutions. Then the question only becomes how many.

  • Namlow

    In 50, may 100 years time, human need not to be mobile like we do today. A PC at fix location will do everything that you want to do. Mobile at that time is NOT the mobile what the perception we have today. So, PC will not die.

    • Justin

      Humans are going to want to stay mobile. So mobile computing is here to stay.

      • Namlow

        Mobile computing will stay but “not” in the way we use it today in 50 years time. A Second Steve Jobs will come along to give human beings another break through on how to use mobile computing, accessing not just the video and audio info but much more in information cybernation, together with your home station PC.

        Ref:
        Cybernation:The American Infrastructure in the
        Information Agehttp://www.fas.org/irp/threat/980107-cyber2.html

    • Anonymous Coward

      Maybe. But they’ll still want to take their PC to the terrace in the summer, or sit near the fireplace in the winter. Which means as mobile as today, from a device’s point of view.

  • http://hiperactivo.com/ Javier Candeira

    Hi Horace,

    Great analysis. However, iOS and Android devices don’t only compete with productivity tools, but with pure content consumption devices. I’d love to see a similar graph that pits the growth of iOS and Android against games consoles, both stationary and mobile. Some of these are already in your graph: home computers such as Commodore64 were mostly used as dedicated games consoles, competing with the SNES rather than with the PC.  I would ask for Kindle too, but I think Amazon don’t release their sales data.

    Another analysis that could be interesting is to control for amortization. Right now PC sales growth has stopped partly because of longer replacement cycles, particularly in markets where many, if not most, machines are only bought to replace existing machines. However, I also think it’s safe to assume that most iOS and Android devices are being bought as their owner’s first smartphone/tablet.

    Finally, a vote for the log graph. I teach a first year introduction to IT course, and on the second lecture I make sure I explain two things to my students: the difference between a logarithm and an algorithm, and why log graphs are so useful. One reason that may have escaped your critics is that log graphs preseve growth shapes *relative to the shapes of the total market at the time*, particularly when the total market is growing exponentially too. And your quip that log graphs are there to fool your audience just like warning signs are used to fool the iliterate is going in my notes for the next semester.

    I haven’t read all the comments so I don’t know if these are repeated requests, but in any case please count them as votes.

  • http://hiperactivo.com/ Javier Candeira

    Hi Horace,

    Great analysis. However, iOS and Android devices don’t only compete with productivity tools, but with pure content consumption devices. I’d love to see a similar graph that pits the growth of iOS and Android against games consoles, both stationary and mobile. Some of these are already in your graph: home computers such as Commodore64 were mostly used as dedicated games consoles, competing with the SNES rather than with the PC.  I would ask for Kindle too, but I think Amazon don’t release their sales data.

    Another analysis that could be interesting is to control for amortization. Right now PC sales growth has stopped partly because of longer replacement cycles, particularly in markets where many, if not most, machines are only bought to replace existing machines. However, I also think it’s safe to assume that most iOS and Android devices are being bought as their owner’s first smartphone/tablet.

    Finally, a vote for the log graph. I teach a first year introduction to IT course, and on the second lecture I make sure I explain two things to my students: the difference between a logarithm and an algorithm, and why log graphs are so useful. One reason that may have escaped your critics is that log graphs preseve growth shapes *relative to the shapes of the total market at the time*, particularly when the total market is growing exponentially too. And your quip that log graphs are there to fool your audience just like warning signs are used to fool the iliterate is going in my notes for the next semester.

    I haven’t read all the comments so I don’t know if these are repeated requests, but in any case please count them as votes.

    • http://www.facebook.com/bjorn.thirud Bjørn Harald Thirud

      Agreed! You have to be really good to make a smart phone last more than two years, so these numbers don’t tell us how many devices of each category are actually out there being used.

      Still it is very interesting to see the high market penetration of smart phones and tablets.  Our gadgets are getting smarter.

      With regards to you first point, I don’t think the author tries to imply that every type of device in the chart are competitors. Some categories are clearly complementing each other or just in different markets. E.g. I would never do C++ programming on my Android even though I often do my emails there; a PC can be anything from a box in a server room to a netbook chosen over an iPad.

      Thanks for a great article!

    • Anonymous

      Javier, I too understand the usefulness of these log charts, as they are predictive, where as the growth curves are so distorted by an arithmetic chart that they are not as useful for understanding or predicting disruptive change.

      I also share your thoughts about the difficulty comparing “content consumption” devices with “content creation” devices. However, the real disruption is occuring to content consumption, including business consumption, on the PC. The real threat to PCs is not longer replacement cycles, but that half to two-thirds of their “job” has historically been some form of consumption which is being exponentially transferred to mobile devices. -Bert

  • Pingback: The Complete History Of Computer And Gadget Sales In One Elegant Chart (AAPL, RIMM, MSFT, GOOG) – Finding Out About()

  • Pingback: تاریخچه کامل کامپیوتر و گجت های محبوب در یک عکس « عصر IT – موبایل،تبلت،Ù()

  • Pingback: The Complete History Of Computer And Gadget Sales In One Elegant Chart (AAPL, RIMM, MSFT, GOOG) | Athens Report - Top Stories()

  • http://bseddon.myopenid.com/ BMS

    Lies, damned lies and statistics.

    It would be great to have a statistician comment on this post. I’m sure they’d rip its analysis to shreds.  The use of the log scale *massively* overstates the shipments of Macs.  My guess is that most of the increase observed is to groups wanting to develop apps for iDevices since it is a necessary pre-condition.  I’ve had to buy one.  I don’t use it but I had to have one.  Well done Apple marketing but not much of a reason to get excited about the demise of personal computing.
    Smartphones are a different category. No one in their right mind is going to do much but read stuff on a mobile device.  text, sure, but that’s it. The remarkable thing to me is how well PC shipments have held up given that so much disposable income has been spent on mobile devices recently.

    The title is rise and *fall* of personal computing.  However your stats show that PC shipments continue to rise.  Sure, if you create an artificial category which combines PCs (which used to be ~100% of this ‘category’) and then add mobile devices which used not to have existed then, sure, you’ll show something but I think its confirmation bias you are demonstrating.

    Why stick with the Commodore 64?  Why not include any device with a CPU?  My refrigerator and wristwatch have pretty good CPUs in them (compared to the Apple II).  Or what about the routers and cable modems we all have as these also have pretty decent CPUs (and my router runs Linux!)

    Your insistence on the use of a log scale also understates Android shipments.  It looks from the graphic like Android shipments are just a bit more than those of the iDevices whereas the scale disguises the reality that Android shipments are 2-3 times those of any iDevice.

    So what, exactly, is the purpose of the post?

    • Kizedek

      Wow. You are perfectly reflecting some of the incumbent attitudes in the industry and on Wall Street that Horace’s articles are designed to correct.

      BTW, since I am not in my right mind (I am, after all, one of these growing legions of freelancers and entrepreneurs who refuses to work in an office for a corporation), I thought I would share that I do an awful lot on my mobile device, stuff that I now would not consider doing on my PC (an iMac).

      For example, there are tons of services and new web startups, etc. all of which have great iOS support that is far superior to the desktop experience. Remember that “the device should become the app”. In fact, I am hardpressed to find desktop apps that do the jobs nearly so well. Some of these include:

      note taking, reference keeping, brainstorming; expense tracking, budgeting, invoicing, task and project management, team collaboration, clients for Google apps, clients for control panels and web hosting, client proposals, presentations, business networking, simple calculations, language translation, research, connecting to online databases, event management, CRM,  passing around remote forms for things like gathering prospects or newsletter signup, making and receiving  payments at events, personal health and fitness coach, performing medical tasks through dongles, inventory taking, comparison shopping using photo and barcode scanning…

      And not to mention that all these things are built from the ground up on mobile platforms to be sync’d and collaborative.

      Don’t know where you have been for the last three years, but if you would look up from your netbook for a moment, you might see that personal computing has gone quite a ways down a post-pc path into uncharted territory, despite your claim that the world is flat.

      • enrico white

        It depends on your needs. What you just mentioned can be done with a smartphone. However try developing/writing software and you have to use a PC/Mac. Same goes for serious games, video encoding/decoding, image processing … I agree with BMS, that the comparison scale is not correct. Creating an artificial category by combining smartphones + PC is illogical. Both were designed for different purposes and serve them. Its like comparing the sales of a Bulldozer with a Rolls Royce. Instead compare smartphones with other smartphones. 

        As for the *fall* of PC, I must say it is a complete piece of myth, mostly perpetrated by people who just need a hardware/software combo for networking/communication/surfing… 

      • Kizedek

        But of course. I love my iMac. For certain things I really want the big screen (two, in fact), and the capability of having multiple windows and files open at one time. Don’t want to replace that.

        But, I’ll say it again:
        There are an increasing number of tasks that I would now NOT consider doing on a desktop or laptop.

        Rather than feeling limited and just putting up with the experience as a trade-off for mobility, I am finding that it adds a new dimension and immediacy to these tasks.

        “Artificial”, huh? is that kind of like “Arbitrary”, or “non-kosher”, or “unacceptable to the powers that be”, something like that?

        Funny that many, many full-price iPhones are being purchased for use around the world. I know a bunch of people that bought unlocked iPhones on trips to the US (from the original iPhone all the way through the 4S). And let’s not forget about scenes outside the Apple Stores in China in the last week. So, here we have a device selling by the boatload at 600 to 800 dollars a unit, and you want to say how that has no relevance to a contracting PC market, where the ASP has fallen through the floor. ;) Oh, that’s right, it has nothing to do with intrinsic or perceived value or actual real-world use, it’s all about the image associated with it ;)

    • http://www.asymco.com Horace Dediu

      Thanks for your input. This is very valuable.

  • Anonymous

    Fiftysixty, Nicely stated. The comments in this post are so interesting because they seem to underscore how much the path Apple is on is disguised by resistance to change. The fear level is rising and the strong opinions reflect that. I am watching Apple disrupt an industry I spent 25 years in (IT – since 1986) and all I hear is people screaming that it is not happening! Isn’t Horace just wonderful! -Bert

  • Timothy

    There was also a “decline” between 1999 and 2002.  I wonder why.  Oh, that’s right, a crappy economy…like now.

    Certainly, mobile platforms are a fantastic new entry to the electronic gizmo market.  And I also firmly believe that there are some sales from PC/laptops drained off into the smartphone/tablet market, as well.  Before the availability of these wonderful devices that I also use daily, we had to sit at a PC to do our daily internet reading (and so on).

    But that doesn’t mean the PC is dying or falling or whatever.  These articles are so ridiculous.  As the economy slowly swings upward again, PC sales will also swing upward.  And you know what else will too?  Smartphones and tablets.

    I have yet to find a single person who has a smartphone/tablet but does NOT have a PC.  That species doesn’t exist yet.  Maybe in the future (5-10 years), but certainly not know.  My second prediction is that those PC-less people will also have some sort of keyboard and mouse peripheral for their tablet too.  Making their tablet…a laptop!

    • Mac

      “… person who has a smartphone/tablet but does NOT have a PC.  That species doesn’t exist yet.” Au contraire. Many young people _own_ tablets or smartphones (or iPod Touches that they use for apps more than music) but only _use_ PCs at home &/or school. I’ve met some of them.

      • Anonymous

        Mac there are plenty of kids with no pc because they use the schools and mom and dads PCs.  The parents would not have gotten them a “mobile” unless they already had PCs, 

      • http://opinadorcompulsivo.blogspot.com Miquel Mayol i Tur

        Then they have a shared PC as they had before and a personal tablet.

        Predictions based in a 10 log scale graph are a joke for everybody with a little bit of econometrics or even stats acknowledgement 

        Of course you must use n logs to make the equations, but never the plots, and here there are no equations and a plot that mislead you.

        Tablets are not a substitution product of PC purchases, at least not now, they are a complementary product as game consoles or Smart TVs.

        Perhaps in a future products as Cotton Candy with Android + Ubuntu, plugged to a empty phone/tablet/desktop monitor/Tv will be – with more powerful CPUs+GPUs a total pocket computer you use for every device size.

        But perhaps in 5 years we will see it or not, who knows?

  • http://twitter.com/web_bod Graeme Mulvaney

    Can you release the underlying data you used please – I think a way to resolve the debate around recent growth, etc. would be to look at the absolute number of devices in existence – i.e. add-up everything shipped since January 2008 – that should clear up any confusion.

    Your chart assumes that each device competes for the same market share, but my Android smart phone, IOS iPad, Windows laptop and Linux server, nobody in their right mind would ditch all their existing computing devices and rely on their latest toy.

    • http://www.asymco.com Horace Dediu

      http://www.asymco.com/hire-me/historic-computer-shipments/

      See the tab at the bottom marked Sheet1

      • Anonymous

        I don’t get your numbers.  For 2011, you’ve got ~217m Android phones sold.  But in the Google CC at the beginning of October, 2011, they claimed they’d activated 190m total since the release of the Android OS.

        Your claims are completely at odds with their official statement.  Please explain.

      • http://www.asymco.com Horace Dediu

        2011 numbers include all of 2011 which include estimates for Q4. I estimated Q4. Q4 estimates from other sources will probably be coming in the next few weeks and I may adjust accordingly.

      • http://www.asymco.com Horace Dediu

        In the latest earnings call Google’s CEO said that there are now about 250 million Android devices

      • Anonymous

        Yes, but you’ve got 217m just for CY2011.  In the CC, they pretty specifically said it was 250m since launch.

        But then, how does that reconcile with 700k activated per day? That adds up to your approximation.

        I’m gonna have to dig those numbers up again. I was positive he was saying it was total.  But your numbers and the daily activations say otherwise.

  • http://www.dolphin-academy.com/ Marcus de Maaijer

    When a radio unit went mobile, it did not cause the demise of stationary units. Pc’s and handhelds will always be around. Instead of competing with each other, they will complement each other.

    • http://www.asymco.com Horace Dediu

      Nor did the PC cause the demise of Mainframes or cars cause the demise of horses. What did happen however is that profits in companies concentrating in those areas evaporated and condensed around disruptors (and then some). Along with profits went investment, talent, passion and glory.

  • Anonymous

    I liked your research and the info it presents.  It is easy to understand that 100% of a market does not preclude the fact that the net quantity of users in the market increases.  However, how does you chart account for multi-device users?  Also, I would have found it helpful to show Windows Phones as a separate line.  I hope you or someone can do this again abotu 6 months after Windows 8 is out.

    • http://www.asymco.com Horace Dediu

      Windows Phones are the updated chart as part of Windows Mobile. Regarding users, there is no accounting for multiple devices per user but I don’t see why that is important. Not only were there multiple PCs per user but in the early phase of the industry many people used PCs and minicomputers at the same time.

  • bJose

    I haven’t seen a comment about a mobile device which can be docked to use as a Desktop PC as well. I think, that is the future of computing (Mobile+Desktop+..). That docking station can have a portable hard drive, and what not…

    • http://www.asymco.com Horace Dediu

      I think there were several attempts at this with the original Windows based convertible tablets. But they failed and this kind of multi-format device will continue to fail. Developing that type of device hamstrings the vendor into unnecessary compromises that don’t push in directions that need improvement. The historical equivalent is early microcomputers that were designed to double as mainframe terminals.

  • Afn414

    Though this has been said in several different way already, to summarize my thought on this… While the Commodore 64, Macintosh, PC, Atari ST, etc. were all more or less direct competitors, this isn’t necessarily true of smart phones and tablets. There are certain things PCs can do better because of faster processors, bigger screens, more storage, greater expandability, more peripheral options, etc. While tablets and smartphones will catch up via technology advancements, docking options, etc. by that point they will have basically become PCs.

     PCs (desktops and laptops) currently still have a big advantage because of more accessible power, In the case of a desktop it plugs into the wall and a laptop can have a substantially larger battery.

    If you could only have one computing device, how many people would pick a smartphone or tablet over a laptop or desktop?

    • Richard Lamsdale

      Your point is true for most developed countries, but don’t ignore the huge market of developing nations – infrastructure such as reliable power and internet connectivity may be either too expensive or not exist at all. Phones and tablets can be a direct substitute, and these are the ‘growth markets’ of the future.

  • Bib

    Andoid table is pointing upward more than ipad.

  • Pingback: تاریخچه کامل کامپیوتر و گجت های محبوب در یک عکس()

  • Pingback: The rise and fall of personal computing | benjamin junior()

  • http://twitter.com/meedabyte Simone Cicero

    The comment about using log scale is non sense. Transformation in log scale keeps tendencies intact. PC shipments are stagnating and Mobile computing platform are exploding. It’s just a new phase. 

    • No

      Not entirely nonsense.  

      Consider the top line is actually the highest meaningful line you could include, since it is already 1Billion, and there are not 10billion people in the world.  Furthermore, once you factor in the vast quantity of destitute people, or the fact that computing goods are not intended to last 1 year but more typically 5 years, the de facto maximum market is arguably less than the top line of 1 billion.The log scale is generally appropriate for judging adoption, but please do not pretend not to understand it does not go on forever.  The PC is not a failure because hundreds of billions of “personal” computers are not being sold, as might be the case if its prior logorithmic growth had continued.

      • http://www.asymco.com Horace Dediu

        The mobile phone market was much more than 1 billion units in 2011. All smartphone estimates I’ve seen are expecting over 1 billion units per year in 2 to 3 years.

      • Miles Robinson

        I don’t have a smartphone or tablet and can still attribute at least 3 machines (two of the same model) to my name.  While that’s clearly not standard worldwide, multiple devices per user would put the absolute at something like 3x or 4x total population.  More realistically, the actual numbers are 3x or 4x the population of the computer-literate world.

  • Anonymous

    Could you update the marketshare graph to include the other phone platforms added to the final line graph as well?

  • Heindl

    I miss the Sinclair products ZX80, ZX81, Spectrum, they had around 1984: 5 000 000 Users!

  • Pingback: | The first 37 Years of Personal Computing | Expect So Much |()

  • Pingback: Assorted links — Marginal Revolution()

  • Pingback: Le vendite di terminali Android nel 2012 sorpasseranno quelle dei PC | Nexus Lab - We're really INTO android - News, prove, tutorial, programmazione, hacks()

  • Pingback: Финский аналитик полагает, что Android разрушит рынок ПК | Все об IT технологи()

  • Pingback: Один из финских аналитиков полагает, что Android разрушит рынок ПК | | AppleRumorsAppleRumors()

  • Zbicyclist

    I remember when the CPM operating system was tops (Z80 based).  Kaypro was the 4th largest manufacturer for a while in the early 1980s, and there were a lot of Osbornes, Altairs. Xeroxes, Heaths, and other machines.  Yet that was such a blip it doesn’t even get a mention on the graph.

  • Pingback: Один из финских аналитиков полагает, что Android разрушит рынок ПК | Блог коÐ()

  • Pingback: Links: iPhones and airports « City Block()

  • Pingback: Links: iPhones and airports « City Block()

  • http://arjam.net/rjmunro/ Robert (Jamie) Munro

    Are these US or worldwide numbers? In the UK, Both Sinclar & Acorn (under the BBC brand) shipped millions of units around the 1982-5 period. Amstrad was third, although they quickly became a PC clone maker. None of these show on your graph.

    • http://www.asymco.com Horace Dediu

      These are world-wide numbers. If you have yearly data for these brands, I’d be happy to add them to the database.

  • Pingback: The Rise and Fall of Personal Computing | Primary School()

  • Pingback: The Rise and Fall of Personal Computing | Primary School()

  • D Alun B

    I don’t think the last graph is in any way “extreme” – it’s a clear view on a well recognized trend.
    It’s not just a PC world anymore – and looking at ‘just’ PCs is pointless.

    What is interesting is if you project this trend to this time next year. It shows Windows as being between 20% and 25% of the OS connected to the Internet.

  • Norman Graham

    Well, for the last 6 months I’ve used an iPad 2 and an iPhone as my only computing devices. It’s been a bit of a surprise, but there have been surprisingly few road bumps in this experiment. A physical keyboard is a nice addition to the combo that I think is a requirement for long text entry, but otherwise it’s a robust setup that I don’t regret using.

    I write this as a reasonably technical manager type who’s been working in the software development field for 20 years, so you can imagine my needs. When I’ve needed to escape the iOS world–primarily for programming tasks–I used my iPad to VNC to Ubuntu servers I’ve provisioned at Rackspace. Other than a bit of a cramped desktop, this worked just fine.

    At some point I may buy another so-called real computer, but it’s not going to get much usage.

  • Pingback: LG’s budget-friendly Android phone hits stores | LG Optimus Cases()

  • Anonymous

    Where’s my Timex Sinclair?!

  • Pingback: Personal computing door de jaren heen /  Weblog – Hans van Goor()

  • Pingback: A Brief History of Computing Platforms | VINT()

  • Pingback: Developers, the next round is about you in the mobile platform war | Markus Grundmann()

  • Pingback: Why Mobile Matters | industrial clay | industrial clay()

  • Pingback: Complément : la parenthèse du PC « Le carnet économique de Gilles Le Blanc()

  • Pingback: Windows snart under 50% | Adarobloggen()

  • Pingback: Microsoft is about to drive a wedge into the mobile market :: dylan tweney()

  • Pingback: Usenet.info.pl » Mamy początek ery post-PC. Usenet będzie się rozwijał w nowej rzeczywistości()

  • Pingback: kylegeisler.net » Archive » The rise and fall of personal computing | asymco » kylegeisler.net()

  • Pingback: تاریخچه کامل کامپیوتر و گجت های محبوب در یک عکس | پرتال توکا()

  • Pingback: Marktübersicht alle Computer()

  • Pingback: Asymco, “The rise and fall of personal computing” | Kartellblog.()

  • Pingback: Surface changes everything: why Android is headed for a world of hurt | Silktide blog()

  • Pingback: 10 Early Reads - 1/19 - Propelics()

  • Doug Kimbrough

    Horace,

    Excellent and thought provoking charts! Is there a 2012 update to this chart?

    • http://www.asymco.com Horace Dediu

      There will be when the data for 2012 is available. I presume that will be in January of 2013.

      • Jacob Nordfalk

        I’d also very much like to see an updated version

  • Paulie77

    The thing that we are all missing here (and what this article and comments brought to my mind) is that someday real soon you are going to be able to put your smartphone in a dock and have a full blown pc experience. When that happens every other option will become irrelevant, and you better hope that you are looking at logrithmitic scales.

  • Pingback: Le tenebre e la luce | Script | iCreate()

  • Xuth

    If you’re going to include the modern smartphones and tablets, why aren’t their predecessors included? In their heyday, Palm devices would certainly show up as several percentage points of total market share on your graphs.

    • http://www.asymco.com Horace Dediu

      I’ll be happy to include them if you can share the shipment data for PDAs.

  • rockafellow

    What do I want to use my device for? Consumers wanted PCs to replace type writers, to be word processors, very expensive word processors, to play games (very expensive solitaire gaming), to communicate – email, and then started to use them to store photos, music and other entertainment. If a small, compact device can do 90 or even 100% of what you purchased the “big” PC for, and you can use a large display, that device becomes the only personal computing power you need. People HAD to buy a large PC with a huge CRT monitor because that was the only available computer…. but Apple’s Newton showed that people wanted something compact. It’s an evolution. On sight Server stacks are being replaced by cloud services, but at the same time there are still some companies using mainframe computers.

  • Pingback: Why Responsive Web Design Matters | TGFI()

  • Pingback: BII MOBILE INSIGHTS: The Rise And Fall Of Personal Computing | Digital Wealth()

  • Curious

    fewer than a million PCs and Androids shipped in 2011? Just how good is your chart?

    • http://www.asymco.com Horace Dediu

      Just how good is your reading of the axis labels?

      • Latif

        That’s thousands of units per year. which means more than hundred millions Mr. Curious :D

      • banse;

        true

  • Pingback: Vodafone, iq digital, Amen. — mobilbranche.de()

  • Pingback: 个人计算设备沉浮录(1975-2011) | 世上的光()

  • Pingback: read.guoruEi » Blog Archive » 个人计算设备沉浮录(1975-2011)()

  • Pingback: 个人计算设备沉浮录(1975-2011) | 云动态()

  • Pingback: Images from Today’s Lecture | INFO 203, Spring 2013()

  • Ingmar de Vegte

    Does these graphs represent world wide use of these ‘computers’? Or is this particularly for USA?

    • http://twitter.com/asymco Horace Dediu

      Why would you consider that they might represent the USA?

      • Ingmar de Vegte

        Good question, I don’t know how to answer that. :)

        But for my project, which I am graduating for, I would like to know on which country/countries these graphs are based or is it world wide?

      • http://twitter.com/asymco Horace Dediu

        So from the data visible in the chart which countries would you guess are represented?

      • Ingmar de Vegte

        I really don’t know… can’t you just tell me?

      • http://twitter.com/asymco Horace Dediu

        There are no countries cited so the safe assumption is that it represents all countries. All data is global unless a specific local subset is declared.

      • Ingmar de Vegte

        Thanks

  • Pingback: 个人计算设备的发展趋势 | Linux Over Cloud()

  • Pingback: A Brief History of Computing Platforms | Mark Cossey - Visual and User Interface Designer()

  • Pingback: The rise and fall of personal computing | SiliconEngine()

  • Pingback: Innovation Challenge: Your Market is Never Stable - Innovation for Growth()

  • Pingback: The Secret of Microsoft’s Success (And Some Lessons For Apple) | Technology()

  • Pingback: Innovation Excellence | Innovation Challenge: Your Market is Never Stable()

  • http://www.techendeavour.com Rahul Aggarwal

    It is quite surprising to note that you missed to include the Palm devices in this. That was the platform which actually triggered the mobile revolution.

    When we at Endeavour started in 2002 it used to be the only popular platform followed distantly by Windows Mobile.

    • http://www.asymco.com Horace Dediu

      I did not miss it as much as there is no data I can find.

  • Pingback: Microsoft and the big computer platform change | Decoding the new economy()

  • Pingback: Stanford 开设『创业工程学』 | 天天三国杀()

  • wtpayne

    This is in-line with what I have seen. Mid 2012, I was seeing a roughly 50-50 mix of Android & iOS devices hitting the mobile Ad-Exchanges that we partnered with.

  • Jason Robertson

    This “fall of the PC” stuff just kills me. It reminds me of the “fall of the mall” theories on the mid-90’s. This data does not include the number of people like myself whom bought a tablet last year and then quickly put it down because of its limitations. I now consider my tablet a toy and only use it when my phone battery is dead. Lets see what happens 5 years from now when everyone has given tablets a fair shot. I think that in time people will realize the tablet is a fad, a toy, a niche, and cannot compete with the power of a PC or Mac.

    • Taps Murove

      I think it depends which market you’re in. Most of the growth for mobile phones and tablets in the coming years will be in the developing world, and only a small portion of these markets have ever owned a PC. For them, a tablet or mobile device will be their first impression of a computer. The PC is falling, if not in the developed world, then definitely everywhere else.

    • nimnio

      As the author points out, “these not-good-enough computers will surely get better.” The distinction between a PC and mobile device has been eroding since the first successful PDA (now called “smartphones”) and shows no signs of stoping.

      • Jason Robertson

        What does “get better” mean though? That these tablets will boast more than 64 Gigs of RAM? That they will be able to run the software that we need to develop apps like Photoshop or the like? That they will have keyboards and have USB inputs, external drives of some sort, or basically they will be laptops with touch screens? So essentially the tablet will be a modifies PC. I cannot develop a website on a 10.1″ tablet, not do I wish too. The tablet is nothing more than a novelty, and like I said once people give it a fair shot, they will find that it is nothing more than a useless gaming device that falls short between a gaming device and a PC.

      • nimnio

        “Yes” to all of your questions, and you will be able to plug your tablet into your dual screen monitor set-up. Your complaints are identical to those made against early laptops. The tablet of today is not the tablet of tomorrow.

      • Daniel

        This notion kills me too. But I should agree – Microsoft Surface Pro is a full scale ultrabook in a tablet form. Yet I will call it just what it is – ultrabook. In my opinion the tablets will be obsolete in few years but there will be laptops with touchscreens.

    • bob

      Are you serious? Tablets will get faster with more storage and will run full programs and will completely take over the market. Change is inevitable.

      • Jason Robertson

        Yes I am dead serious. No matter how good tablets become, we as humans will always have fingers, and it is much easier to use a keyboard for many different things. Like Daniel said earlier though, the tablet as we know it will merge into a laptop with a touch screen (already available) but an iPad will never, ever replace a good old fashioned PC or Mac for that matter. Look at the 23″ HP touch screen PC’s, those have been around for years now. Those are basically huge touch screen tablets. Its just not going to happen; iPads and tablets are fun toys, but leave the heavy lifting to PC’s.

  • Pingback: Por qué desarrollar apps en HTML5@carlosazaustre()

  • Chitrank Dixit

    Massive change has come up in the last two years with the smartphone market.

  • bansel

    PCs can lot more things then these “tablets and Iphone like devices”that we are see today. it will be odd that will to be falling now. :/

  • bansel

    because this fact is telling how many people buying not how many liking the over PCs

  • Jim

    I can appreciate the work you’ve done here. The first graph shows the common trend among all curves, that the number of units per year increases with a rapid slope, sales then peak at maximum before the number of units per year drops with nearly a symmetrical, negative slope. Looking at the PC curve it was alarming to see that the leveling off of PC sales might indicate the zero drop before the product’s sales plummet.

    I did have some concerns however about the conclusions drawn from the graphs. Firstly, all other curves that appear to set a trend that PC may take if sales level and plummet similarly. However, those other curves for say Apple II, Atrai, Commodore 64, these are single products released by individual companies.

    Considering the nature of the PC industry as a multi-faceted, aggregate of several different industries, (hardware manufacturing, CPU and GPU manufacture, software, and myriad peripherals), I find it hard to compare “Personal Computer” to say “Sega Dreamcast” or a single product that makes a successful run but then loses those sales just as quickly. The end of the PC would mean the end of Microsoft, the end of huge EMS (electronic manufacturing services) services, peripherals, and yet I personally was mystified by the power of these smart devices, the screens are small, the interfaces and tiny keyboards that rely on predictive text are still annoying to use, and a mere alternative when traveling, not any device that can replace a gaming machine.

    Further, many people build their own PC’s from the countless peripherals and hardware parts available, not all purchase pre-made assembly-line PCs from the giant manufacturers that lack high-performance components are not appealing and are still over-priced, which possibly has a bearing on the leveling of sales, when people compare cheaper new devices that are trendy. Later they find, they use apps like Splashtop to access their REAL computer, running over-priced overrated Windows or free Linux like Ubuntu (the most popular OS), Debian, etc.

    Consoles from single companies come and go, seeing the patterns of how they disappear from the market was interesting but there are many more factors to consider for the umbrella term “PC.”

  • Jim

    “The “entrants” into personal computing, the iPad, iPhone and Android,
    have a combined volume that is higher than the PCs sold in the same
    period (358 million estimated iOS+Android vs. 336 million PCs excluding
    Macs in 2011.) The growth rate and the scale itself combine to make the
    entrants impossible to ignore.”

    So then if iPad, iPhone and Android are considered personal computers. Shouldn’t they be added to the category “PC” if they have not hit a negative slope and stopped selling like the Apple and Commodore?

    OR, is “PC” meant to describe a tower case, separate monitor, keyboard/mouse, what was once called an IBM clone, or referred to as desktop computers? We already know Apple announced they are giving up on the Mac already. But shouldn’t even the Mac be considered a PC, or desktop computer? But Apple made a fake distinction in their “Mac Guy” vs. “PC Guy” marketing campaign? The only significant difference was operating systems, not components. “PC guy” should have been “Windows guy” if they were more articulate.

    Why is Mac a separate category, having its own curve on the graph? Why isn’t it included in the “PC” category?

    Are we distinguishing by company brand name of computing or are we talking operating systems? As in, you have two curves for PCs (desktop computers) that are not the same product exactly but are still desktops and personal computers: Windows/Linux/BSD and also Mac’s iOS which is a Linux distro that they support?

    I have to ask, does “personal computing” in your title find its definition in what a desktop computer is? Because you do state that the up and coming devices that are currently grabbing large market share (smartphones, tablets, android devices) are indeed used for personal computing.

    I think that the X-axis (number of units sold) is a variable that may be more for business people and sales teams and contains an intrinsic purpose primarily concerned with monetary returns. And these figures (Units Sold Annually) may be affected greatly by marketing tricks or media bombardment, rather than a specific measure or a predictor of how computing will be done? It also excludes consideration of how many people will use that one unit. It could be a family for a PC, but a smartphone is usually for one, no?

    Can Unit sales indicate trends in popularity at this moment, sure, but what if we consider that every device that has a curve on the graph *is* a device meant for personal computing.

    Are the differences between each device studied based on how we “do computing” (on the go or at a desk? What operating system (Win vs iOS vs Android) is used? What company (Apple, Google, and then everyone else) is involved?

    By PC or personal computing, do you mean “Windows desktop PC’s?” more specifically?

    Or are you talking about the potential disappearance of the open PC platform which Microsoft is attempting to change with Windows 8 and the Microsoft store, limiting customers’ choices of what they can and cannot run on their platform and maximizing on what may be an industry of the past. By taking control as gatekeepers what software is allowed to run on Windows, learning from the extremely lucrative Apple Store, they’re absorbing a huge market by dictating by a monopoly interest on what can be installed on their devices that could only hinder independent software development.

    This is one of Valve’s biggest concern is that the open platform for PCs will no longer be there for gamers, prices will be dictated by one company’s interests. Think of what console game pricing is like. All the games are $60, even the bad games, so awful you regret the purchase but can only sell used for about 33% of the cost. And the prices never drop even as reviews come out trumpeting that a game is not even worth playing.

    Valve’s response to the Microsoft Store is the Steambox, their own gaming console which will run on a Linux variant OS.

    What if there is a mass exodus from Microsoft to Linux, like Ubuntu, the world’s most popular OS and which is free. Think of it. No more paying for Windows OS. They can keep making Office and DirectX but .NET would see a corresponding decline in use.

    All devices mentioned in this article are meant for personal computing, albeit with different operating systems, style of use, form factor, raw computing power. There is a graph of market share for all those PC’s, but it seems one has to assume that the one with the most to lose in your scenario is Microsoft, and the MS PC, specifically.

  • Jacob Nordfalk

    Horace, I love your “Units shipped per year (Log scale)” graph, it gives a great long scale perspective.

    Could you please update it with 2012 and 2013 numbers, at least for PC, Android, iPhone and iPad?

    Thank you in advance!

  • http://naofumi.castle104.com/ Naofumi

    Given the year-to-year sales decline that has just been announced for the iPad, I would very much like to see an update please.

  • rehammmagdy

    ggggggggggggggg

  • rehammmagdy
  • rehammmagdy
  • rosy mostafa
  • nedved1000
  • rosy mostafa
  • maha helmie

    مكتب عقار اسهل الخيارات

    مكاتب
    عقار منطقة الرياض

    مكاتب عقار منطقة مكة المكرمة

    مكاتب عقار منطقة تبوك

    مكاتب
    عقار منطقة القصيم

    مكاتب عقار منطقة المنطقةالشرقية

    مكاتب
    عقار منطقة عسير

    مكاتب عقار منطقة حائل

    مكاتب عقار منطقة الحدود الشمالية

    مكاتب عقار منطقة جازان

    مكاتب عقار منطقة نجران

    مكاتب
    عقارمنطقة الباحة

    مكاتب عقار منطقة الجوف

    شقة
    للبيع بالرياض

    عقارات السعودية

    عقارات
    الرياض

    مكتب
    عقار الرياض

    دبلكس
    فاخرة للبيع بالرياض

    شقة
    للبيع دوبلكس بالرياض

    فيلا
    للايجار بالرياض

    فيلا للبيع
    بالرياض

    استراحة
    للبيع بالرياض

    فلل
    للبيع بالرياض

    محطات
    وقود للايجار بالرياض

    قصر
    فاخر للبيع بالرياض

    اراضى
    للبيع بالرياض

    عقارات
    الخرج

    شقة
    للايجار بالخرج

    مزارع
    للبيعبالخرج

    شقق
    تمليك للبيع بالخرج

    فلل
    للبيع بالخرج

    عمارة
    للبيع بالخرج

    شقق
    للايجاربالخرج

    للبيع
    فيلا بغرناطة

    عمائر
    للبيع بالخرج

    ادوارا
    للايجاربالخرج

    عمائر
    للايجاربالخرج

    عقارات
    للبيع بالخرج

    اراضى للبيع فى محافظة الخرج