The Five Year Plan

Gartner reported that PC shipments totaled 80.3 million units in Q3. Subtracting an estimated 4.4 million Macs yields an estimated 75.9 million Windows PCs.[1]

This total is lower than the total shipped in the same period of 2008.


Screen Shot 2013-10-10 at 10-10-11.12.11 AM


The graphs above show the Gartner data and the split between tablets and PCs.[2]

If we include all iOS and Android devices the “computing” market in Q3 2008 was 92 million units of which Windows[3] was 90% whereas in Q3 2013 it was 269 million units of which Windows was 32%.

Screen Shot 2013-10-10 at 10-10-11.33.22 AM


Any guesses on what this market will look like in 2018?

  1. The total will be less than this as some PCs will not ship with Windows []
  2. Tablet and Mac data for Q3 is not yet available []
  3. Windows including Windows Mobile or Windows Phone []
  • psiberaktiv

    Horace, are the ChromeBooks being accounted for in the PC numbers? If I were to extrapolate, new class of “Cloud” devices like the ChromeBooks and Apple’s answer to ChromeBook “SafariBook or iCloudBook?”, which are essentially a throwback to the “Thin Clients” of yesteryear, will become another distinct and growing category.

    • vbonline

      A Chromebook without a decent (10MBit/s or more) internet connection is an expansive paperweight. Now take a map of the world and look at areas with decent wireless internet connectivity. A Chromebook might be appealing for a US citizen in a big town, but for the rest of the world?

      • charly

        Most people never take their 15″-17″laptop out of their home so why would that be a problem?

      • charly

        Most people never take their 15″-17″laptop out of their home so why would that be a problem?

      • vbonline

        But they do take their phones and tablets out, and that is where the money will go in the future (actual where it is going now already)…

        …and again, take a map and look at Africa, South America, India, China, Russia…. Huge parts of this with the majority of the world population don’t have a decent internet connection in their house…

      • charly

        Huge parts also have no electricity. The parts that have decent electricity and not internet isn’t that large

      • vbonline

        You are sure? Because I travelled to 50+ countries in the world and electricity was WAY more common than internet. You do know petrol generators, right?

        You don’t need electricity 24/7 to have a tablet or Laptop charged, but a Chromebook is a paperweight without internet…

      • handleym

        The claim is that 75% of people have electricity. 40% have internet.
        Of course you can argue about exactly what both of these mean. Electricity may be frequently interrupted. Internet may mean an expensive and slow cellular connection.

        But as a rough guess it seems fair to say that, no, it’s not correct that electricity=>internet; rather electricity=>50% chance of internet.

      • JohnDoey

        Electricity is not an issue because you can run 35 iPads off the same electricity as 1 Intel-based PC. Looking at the last 5 year plan, in 2013 compared to 2008, you can now run a Web browser on Wi-Fi on batteries for an hour on a tiny fraction of the electricity, and that is still going down. Even if you stayed on Intel, you could run probably 5 Haswell Intel systems in the power of 1 2008 Intel, or something like 100 iPads in the power of 1 2008 Intel.

        Further, solar generation has exploded the other way, giving out more power.

        So if you were power-constrained in 2008, then the last 5 years were a gift.

        The primary feature if the 2013 MacBook Air was a CPU/GPU that uses half the power. The major features of OS X Mavericks is reduced power consumption through many innovative methods.

        It is to the point now where solar plus iPad can make people’s off-the-grid fantasies feasible. If your house is in 3G/4G and you have solar, an iPad gives you a lot of value for the power it sips.

        And an iPad mini uses even less power, and an iPhone even less again.

        Going forward, societies can build out 3G/4G into an area and then build houses with solar on top and iPads inside and no power grid is needed.

      • charly

        With mobile phone based included or excluded. Also internet penetration is growing much faster

      • charly

        40% have a subscription or 40% have access. Still 40% of 7 billion is an enormous number of people.

      • charly

        And a laptop isn’t.

      • vbonline

        No, because your data isn’t in the cloud and only available via internet, but is stored locally….

      • JohnDoey

        Many places that do not have power are already in 3G. An iPad uses 1/35th of the power of an Intel system, so iPad can be charged from solar and other small-scale AC.

        The developing world favors mobile phones and will favor mobile PC’s for all the same reasons.

      • obarthelemy

        Actually, ChromeBooks can be used offline. They do need a regular (not permanent !) ‘net connexion for backups, synching, and updates, but you can create and edit Google Docs (among other things) offline.

      • JohnDoey

        You can do almost nothing with an offline ChromeBook. The apps are just not there.

      • obarthelemy
      • marcoselmalo

        That’s very interesting, O-Man. Thanks for posting it!

    • davel

      Good question.

      How big of a market are they? There is a lot of energy around them, but how well do they sell?

    • Jessica Darko

      Apple’s answer to the “chrome book” is the iPad. If you want a keyboard you can get one. It doesn’t all need to be all-in-one. And since the iPad can run native apps, it’s way ahead of the chrome book…. and the things chrome book can do, the iPad can do as well.

      I have heard that these devices are selling very poorly- the primary market being Google which likes to give them out.

      • obarthelemy

        Chromebooks are the 1 and 2 best sellers on Amazon (, I doubt Google is buying those.

      • rattyuk

        Can’t include Amazon as they don’t sell iPhones or iPads. Only the third party scammers sell through Amazon so it’s not a useful or viable metric.

      • obarthelemy

        Mmmm… that’s the laptop category ?

      • rattyuk

        Ah OK. I believe Netbooks were riding high in the charts once upon a time, too.

      • obarthelemy

        As were Apple II, which is about as relevant.

      • rattyuk

        But, but, but I thought “Apple was doomed if they didn’t release a Netbook”. Remind me again, how did that work out?

      • obarthelemy

        Where’s that quote from ?

      • rattyuk

        Oh man, ignore a whole host of quotes because they have quote around them.

      • obarthelemy

        Well, you make up quotes, you dismiss links w/o even checking them… I’ll let you have your fun on your own.

      • charly

        It is proof that there is a market for chrome books. Which as pure competitors of Windows laptops is amazing

      • JohnDoey

        That is because Anazon does not sell iPads.

    • handleym

      Cloudbooks of any form are solving GOOGLE’s problems, not users. There is no advantage to ME in storing my data in the cloud and accessing it through a single UI model, and plenty of disadvantages.

      What ARE of value to me are synchronization of my “state” across multiple devices. This is a complicated issue which different people may want solved in different ways. (eg I do NOT want the same podcasts on my different devices, but I do want to be able to view Safari pages on my iMac from my iPad).

      What I see is Apple thinking about and trying to solve the synchronization problem (and sometimes screwing up, most recently with iTunes podcasts). Whereas I see Google not really thinking about customer needs but more saying “This is a repackaged version of technology we already have. Please buy it. Maybe it’s good for something in your life?”

      • obarthelemy

        Chromebooks are $250. What do you suggest people with about that money to spend for a mobile computer with a keyboard buy instead ?

        Again, Chormebooks do work off-ilne, so they need to get online regularly.

      • iObserver

        I suggest they buy an iPad mini for a better product and better computing and better resale value for better functionality, user experience, and overall cheaper cost for the lifetime of the product.

      • JohnDoey

        Buy an iPad mini and choose any one of 10,000 cheap accessory keyboards if you need a mechanical keyboard.

        However the ChromeBook use case is Web-heavy, not text-heavy. Most users of ChromeBook would likely benefit more from touch than from mechanical keyboard.

        The iPad will do more and last longer, and it is so much more mobile, so it will get much more use. Ultimately, 10 years of iPad will be much cheaper than 10 years of ChromeBook.

      • obarthelemy

        11.6″ Chromebook: $250
        10″ iPad 2: $399 + Logitech keyboard case: $40 + trackpad not supported
        I’m curious how you make up the extra $200 over 5 years (10 yrs seems more than a stretch) ?

        As for the Chromebook use case, it can be a lot of things. Obviously most buyers seem to use the keyboard+trackpad heavily, which makes sense otherwise might as well get a tablet, so more data/text entry than web browsing.

      • rattyuk

        Why would you need a Trackpad when you actually can touch the screen?

        “I’m curious how you make up the extra $200 over 5 years (10 yrs seems more than a stretch) ?”

        The cost of everything the value of nothing.

      • charly

        399+40-250=$190 close enough

      • obarthelemy

        why would you want a touchscreen when you have a trackpad ?

      • rattyuk

        Oh I don’t know, maybe it is more interactive?

      • obarthelemy

        you should tell that the the guys who design MacBooks and MacBook Airs, ‘coz they seem to prefer touchpads too ?

      • rattyuk

        Oh ok, you are a fucking moron.Forgive me for missing that.

    • JohnDoey

      ChromeBook sells in such small numbers it is a rounding error.

      Apple’s answer to ChromeBook was iPad (although iPad was already under development since 2000.) iPad is a thin-client Mac. Not sure how you missed that. iPad is also by far the most popular thin client in history.

      iPad is “thinner” than ChromeBooks, which are not only 2x or more the size and weight of iPad, they also often have Intel chips (thick PC parts) and FlashPlayer (thick PC software.)

      How would adding a mouse/keyboard and size/weight to an iPad and removing all apps other than Safari make that iPad *more* desirable and/or cheaper? Remember there is an iPad that fits in a jacket pocket, runs a million C/C++ apps and every Web app, iTunes+iPod, costs $329 and outsells ChromeBook 10,000 to 1. What is broken about that? What needs to be fixed?

      Or: who is asking for a MacBook that can’t run Mac apps? Nobody.

  • Nex

    Only in the PC industry where five straight quarters of declining sales of over 8% each is considered “not bad” by the media. I don’t think there is anyone outside of special interest groups that treats PC other than a necessary evil to get things done. Not especially with this pile of poo called Win 8.

  • graphex

    Add in Mac’s and a probable expansion of iPhone and iPad sales in Q3 and Apple has over 20% share of the ‘computing’ market. Let that settle in for a moment. When is one vendor having such a position (and a disproportionate amount of profits) considered dominant?

  • Accent_Sweden

    Everything is a wild guess based on imaginary patterns I think I see, but here goes:

    Windows PC shipments: 60 million
    All other devices: 400 million

    Don’t hold me to it.

    Of course the tipping point for Windows’ decline could be reached much faster and it could collapse completely as it is replaced by more job-appropriate alternatives.

    • JohnDoey

      The tipping point for Windows decline has already passed. Notice the 30% market share of computing is not monopoly or dominating. Windows only has one feature it was ever best at, which was market dominance. Now, it has nothing to recommend it. That is why they can no longer get apps. That is why their CEO just got canned.

      The way buying cycles are, you can still be surrounded by Windows PC’s all day even though the market has already collapsed.

  • poke

    Rather than Jobs’s trucks and cars analogy, I think going from trackpad to touch UIs is more analogous to going from black and white to colour TV. At some point there won’t be any non-touch devices on the market. The majority of touch-based devices will be either phones or tablets. If Microsoft can’t make Windows phones and tablets work, they’re going to be left with single digit market share in 5 years.

    • Tatil_S

      Hardware keyboard is a cheap input device that does not take up any part of the rather expensive and power hungry screen and it provides some haptic feedback to the typist. Voice input is unlikely to replace it, as long as most us work in cubicles and fixing an inevitable mistake takes longer than actually writing it even for slow typists. Keyboards, mice and trackpads also allow arms to stay horizontal while the screen is independently placed at a better angle for sight. Hence, I don’t think touch UI will replace keyboard and mouse in most workplaces. Some devices may support both approaches, in a better package than MS has managed so far though. In any case, this transition is not like going from B&W to color TV, where the latter is a better product in every aspect.

      • charly

        Voice input done by you next door cubicle dweller is a reason to commit murder.

        You can phone and type at the same time. Voice input while phoning is difficult

      • poke

        You can use a touch-based device with an auxiliary (vertical) display and a hardware keyboard. Touch is a better product in every respect. The analogy is particularly apt because the mouse is just a way to do something like touch within certain technical restraints. There is literally no other reason to have it. Once you overcome the technical issues, the old tech dies. But I’m not saying generic desktops and workstations will disappear in this timeframe. It’s the laptop that makes no sense. Having the keyboard attached to the display permanently by a hinge is bad (and pointless) design.

      • vbonline

        While I agree that a learned typist is faster on a keyboard my observation is that my daughter types faster on her touch UI phone than on a keyboard in front of a computer….

        Just because YOU have learned to type on a keyboard first, doesn’t mean it stays like that… Quite the opposite. The current teenagers will look at your keyboard the same way you look at an mechanical typewriter in twenty years from now… 🙂

      • James King

        The need for tactility is not something that can be outgrown. At least not for several hundred thousand years. It’s ingrained in our genetic makeup.

      • vbonline

        We used horses for a couple of thousand years. The tactility to steer a horse with your legs can not be outgrown for several hundred thousand years… and still you are driving a car nowadays… Paradigm shift, anyone?

        My prediction: 25 years from now the majority of words will not be typed on a 101-key keyboard…

      • James King

        You recieve almost no usable information when you type on glass vs typing on a keyboard. The equivalent in your metaphor is driving using only your fingertips and toes. It can be done, but it obviously isn’t the same.

        We’ll still be using tactile keyboards well into the future.

      • vbonline

        Take an american build car from the early eighties and talk about useful information feedback while driving… 🙂

        … and you sound a bit like an blackberry user… They couldn’t imagine to type on glass. And they (and you) where right, it has advantages. But… Paradigm shift? See what happened to typing on tactile keyboards on smartphones…

      • James King

        No I’m not a Blackberry user but I am a keyboard user. I don’t have an issue re: your premise when it comes to mobile devices, but a wholesale shift to typing on glass isn’t going to happen.

      • vbonline

        Look, I’m IBM Model M generation (or even mechanical typewriters if you want to be malicious), but younger colleagues type on those Laptop keyboards even when in front of a desktop. They exchange the HP or Dell keyboard at work for a privately bought Logitech “Laptop” keyboard in 101-key format. Why? Because they are USED to Laptop keyboards and you prefer what you use. Is it so far off, that the next generation (which is USED to type on glass, because kids nowadays start “computing” with a smartphone or a tablet) might prefer to type on glass?

      • James King

        That’s my point. It isn’t a preference, it’s part of how humans actually process information and is ingrained in our DNA. Once those kids use a real keyboard, they are going to want to use it over a glass one EVERY TIME. My kid has used tablets and laptops. She gave up her tablet for a laptop because she preferred an actual keyboard. The need to process information tactily is hardwired into us.

      • vbonline

        MY daughter handed her Macbook down to her younger brother, but try to take her iPad way… You are a braver man than I am if you try… 🙂

      • darwiniandude

        Interesting. What tablet was it? I very much doubt it was an iPad. Touch screen keyboards can, and often do, suck big time. But they don’t have to.

      • James King


      • obarthelemy

        touch typists are what, 5% of the population ? the other 95% have to look at what they’re typing anyway, whether a keyboard or a screen doesn’t make a difference ?

      • James King

        Nothing to do with “touch” typing and everything to do with sensory data. That space BETWEEN the keys is what is important when we type. Our fingertips process differences in contour and texture in very profound ways. That sensory data is lost on glass.

      • obarthelemy

        Indeed, but my point is that most people don’t rely on tactile data so much, but rather on visual data.

      • James King

        2 senses always > 1

      • darwiniandude

        However, the ‘keys’ visually appear depressed when tapped, and on iPhone the key ‘pops up’ above your finger. And your eyes are looking at the screen and keyboard together, instead of having to look at the screen and touch type a keyboard on the desk by feel.

      • JohnDoey

        Guys — here is how it works:

        – you have 2 typing keyboards (touchscreen and mechanical via Bluetooth and USB) so you use whichever one is best for what you are doing at the time.

        Similarly, you have 2 piano keyboards: touchscreen and mechanical (via Bluetooth and USB) and you use whichever one is appropriate to what you are doing.

        Are you editing a document or song and only going to input a few notes? Use the touchscreen keyboard. This represents 80–90% of computing.

        Are you going to type 10,000 words or play an hour of piano sonatas? Attach a mechanical keyboard an it will be worth it. This applies about 10–20% of the time.

      • darwiniandude

        When positioned properly, your hands can reach all keys from the home keys without moving around. So touch is quite adequate. Also typing is digital, each key is either on or off, and peed and accuracy sounds, but not timing or dynamics.

        With a music keyboard, you cannot reach the full 88note range without moving your hands around a lot. The tactile feel aids your fingers in finding the right spot. Accuracy and timing is what matters. Dynamics or velocity (how hard each key is pressed) are extremely important. GarageBand on iOS uses the accelerometer to approximate velocity but this is isn’t accurate.

        Touchscreen typing is far more viable than touchscreen playing.

      • darwiniandude

        You recieve almost no usable information typing on an Electric Typewriter vs typing on an early mechanical model.
        You recieve almost no usable information typing on a modern notebook chicklet-style keyboard vs typing on an early PC keyboard with clicky key switches.
        Where is the ~1″ or more key travel I got on my typewriter on my notebook?
        You recieve exactly no usable information typing on a Microsoft Surface type cover.

        When typing on iPad mini, if I’m belting out words super fast and I miss a key, the system usually correctly identifies the intended word for the dictionary and I just keep typing. A typo on a physical keyboard is always a typo. iOS dynamically adjusts the size of the keys as you type, invisibly. Eg, if you type a Q and then hit the space between U and J for example, it will always type U, because there aren’t words spelt QJ, obviously. Type in PIXXS and it will autocorrect to PIZZA, because it’s not stupid.

      • darwiniandude

        Obviously iOS disables this correction for password fields etc

      • James King

        The “usable information” to which I was referring was sensory data. Without the contours and textures of physical keys, your fingers are “blind” when you type on glass. Before you poo-poo this, please understand that its relevance is based on science.

        Re: iPad mini and autocorrect: bad example. We’ve moved from typos to “contextos,” in which the words are spelled correctly but the context is wrong. Not necessarily and improvement.

      • James King

        The “usable information” to which I was referring was sensory data. Without the spacing, texture and contours of physical keys, your fingers are “blind” when you type. You may not believe it, but your body likes having that information.

        As for auto-correct, we’ve moved from typos to “contextos,” in which the words are spelled correctly but the context is incorrect. Not a great improvement.

      • DarwinPhish

        That will happen because usable touch screens with haptic feedback are less than 25 years away.

      • James King

        And what problem would it be solving? It won’t be better than what we already have.

      • DarwinPhish

        You do realize that I was agreeing to your point about the need for haptic/tactile feedback, right?

      • James King

        Actually, no. I tend to think of haptics and tactility as different things, mostly because I haven’t used a haptic system yet that is as good as a true tactile system.

        My apologies.

      • JohnDoey

        I think you mean 2 to 5 years away.

      • poke

        Keyboards are a recent invention. How does writing with a pencil or pen compare to typing on glass?

      • James King

        Comparable if you are using a typing system like Swype or ShapeWriter. Typing will generally be more efficient but handwriting encourages more creativity and information retention.

      • Space Gorilla

        I usually just dictate, it works great and it’s much faster.

      • obarthelemy

        I’m a long-time user of Galaxy Notes (10.1 and the original phone). It’s not faster than an *on-screen* keyboard, and rather slower than a physical keyboard, at least for me.

        The huge advantages compared to touchscreen typing (but that may be more a reflexion on my skills as a touchscreen typist) is that I don’t need neither to look at what I’m typing, nor to think about it.

        It does require some getting used to (you’ve got to make an effort to write legibly), and 2 hands on the phone (the tablet is usually laying flat on a table so one hand suffices, the phone usually has to be held with one hand while writing with the other, unpractical when walking/standing).

        Samsung recently said that 63% of their Note customers use the pen daily. I do.

      • handleym

        I’d agree, but even more important, I think, is chording.
        As I’ve said before, IF people keep encouraging the replacement in youth of keyboards with touch devices, the result is going to be a two-tier society: poor people who only know basic keyboard input techniques and how to get input from one window, and rich people who can chord on a real keyboard and know how to acquire information from multiple simultaneous windows.

        The need for an app like XCode is not going to go away; and it would be a poorer world if 95% of its inhabitants had no idea how to use an app like that effectively and were essentially cut off from professions that need that sort of facility.

      • vbonline

        and Xcode will always be the way to code, and LUA is only for games, and tablets are only for consumption, and Garageband is only a gimmick, and “Serious” work will only be done on a PC… This is last decade thinking, we are talking about the future…

        And No, the need for Xcode will not go away, but Xcode is not a mainstream product and never will be…

      • handleym

        And so you completely miss my point…

      • vbonline

        I quote your point:

        The need for an app like XCode is not going to go away; and it would be a poorer world if 95% of its inhabitants had no idea how to use an app like that

        My point: More than 95% of the world its inhabitants have no idea how to use XCode right now..You might want to pick a better example than Xcode

        But coming back to “the point”:

        I knew people arguing that instead of Xcode (this modern IDE stuff) people should learn vi, make and yacc. Most of them are retired right now…

        So you think YOUR type of working with complex multi-window applications/workflows will be relevant 20 years from now? Why? Because it suits YOU? Now? What about the next generation? What if a different style of working suits them? Like vi/make/yacc in a VT52 suited the generation before? What’s the difference in working with an VT52 and an iPad? Both are “single application at a time” devices. Now look what Kernighan, Ritchie, Knuth (just to name a few) made with a “single application at a time” device… You doubt there will be people like them in the next generation? Inventing something great with an tablet?

        I hope there will…

      • marcoselmalo

        “I knew people arguing that instead of Xcode (this modern IDE stuff) people should learn vi, make and yacc.”

        I know people that can their own vegetables. There are people that like to do woodwork without power tools.

        I’m imagining a tourist attraction a hundred years from now: Historic Mountainview Theme Park, where people dressed in the costumes of the late 20th Century labor over antique “personal computers”, handcrafting computer programs with vi and emacs.

      • Tatil_S

        Whose comment are you responding to? I did not claim typing on a hardware keyboard is faster. I did not even bring up the speed of typing.

      • The keyboard is to the computer as the headset earbud is to the phone.

      • Tatil_S

        Yes, cell phones don’t need a separate head unit, but in call centers everybody uses headsets. Some solutions are not better for every use case, would be foolish to expect one to completely replace another, which is what the original commenter predicted. (B&W vs. color TV analogy to keyboard PCs vs. touch UI)

    • I think “touching pictures under glass” (I forget the name of the UX guy who put it that way) is a stepping stone to far better UI options in the future. We need force feedback, voice recognition that can tell people apart and filter out background noise, and natural gesture recognition. Touch is great if you can only have ONE way to interact, but it also has a ton of limitations — just look at palm-rejection issues for drawing applications.

      • marcoselmalo

        I hear that there are interesting things being done with the Kinect. I wonder what it would be like to control a device with verbal commands and hand gestures.

      • On the whole, I’d prefer voice commands over hand gestures assuming it’s reliable. E.g. not having to hunt for a TV remote or push the home button to activate Siri.

      • marcoselmalo

        Yes a voice UI would be brilliant for controlling a TV. I am imagining a deeper level of control, using both hand gestures and voice. A rough equivalent would be using modifier keys on a keyboard (cmd, ctrl, alt) when using keyboard or mouse. In my imagined UI, making a fist or a karate chop motion would modify the voice command, or could even be used in a way analogous to keyboard shortcuts.

        Imagine you are dictating an email, and the voice recognition program gets a word wrong, say substituting “wood” for “would”. The problem is that you are using both forms of the word multiple times in the document. Using a combination of gestures and voice, you could quickly navigate to the miscreant word and fix the error.

        This would fix the problem of the program typing out your attempts at correction.

        Not everyone uses keyboard shortcuts, so not everyone would use gestures in my scenario. But it would make the interface much more powerful.

      • I certainly don’t think having to memorize a ton of voice commands to edit text sounds like a good idea, so your gesture ideas (or something like them) makes a lot of sense. That said, eye-tracking would probably get you a huge amount too. (E.g. you might be able to precisely select chunks of text with a glance, or a glance and a small gesture, and then use a reasonably obvious voice command to perform an operation on the selection.)

  • charly

    80 million computers x 4 quarters x 10 year life = 2.4 billion
    Have 2.4 billion people have net connected electricity?

    • handleym

      One quarter of the world lacks access to electricity. Which means three quarters, call it 5 billion, has access.
      Of course the poorer you go, you have a family PC rather than a per person PC.

      Meaning your numbers look about right. 10 yr lifespan may have been optimistic in the past (HDs are the weakest component, and most people don’t know how to keep a PC going if the HD dies — easy with a Mac, harder on Windows). But new HDs seem a lot more reliable, and of course they’re being replaced slowly by SSDs (which also fail…)

      But basically you are right. Even if we drop to a 5 yr lifespan, and one PC per four humans rather than per two, we’re still about where you are.

      • JohnDoey

        An iPad uses 1/35th of the electricity of a Mac/PC to do the same tasks. It can actually be powered off very basic solar.

        Funny thing is, a lot of the people who don’t have power are in 3G. So a few solar panels and an iPad and they are caught up.

        Mobile phones were supposed to be secondary phones. In the developing world thy became the primary phone. Same with mobile PC’s like iPad. It is the obvious primary PC for much of the world.

      • marcoselmalo

        One computer per family is incredible wealth for much of the world. Just guessing, but I’d say that it’s only the richest 2 billion that can afford at least one personal computer per household. Outside of the developed nations, you’ll see more people relying on internet cafes in bigger villages, towns, and cities.

    • obarthelemy

      or have 1.2 billion people 2 computers each ? I’ve got 10-ish, many people around me have a work computer, a laptop, and a home computer.

    • Nex

      Let’s not forget the fact that are is a sizeable percentage of the world population that will never need a PC once they had a mobile device. Out of that group are 2 kinds of people: the first who will replace their existing PCs with their new shiny touchies, and the second who will never buy PCs with those around.

    • JohnDoey

      I know people who had 5 or 6 Windows XP computers in the 2000’s. There are a lot of PC’s that just get junked because of viruses. So I don’t think anyone is saying those were 1 PC per user per decade.

    • Mmm

      8 x 4 = 32. But whatever.

  • James King

    I’m not certain what I should be drawing from this. That smaller, cheaper devices are outselling larger, more expensive devices? That a smaller, cheaper computing device has stunted the growth of a larger, more expensive computing device?

    Is a tablet or smartphone going to be many people’s first real computing device? Sure. Will tablets and smartphones continue to outsell PCs? Likely. Will PC total share of computing devices fall? Probable.

    Will the PC go extinct? No. Almost all of the analysts who predict its demise own at least one, if Macs are included. Will Microsoft continue to print billions from selling Windows? As long as businesses still need PCs (and nothing suggests that they intend to make tablets their primary computing devices).

    Now, in five years, which platform will be most profitable to developers? Companies still make billions developing for Windows, but developers are having a tough time creating sustainable businesses on iOS or Android. What will the app stores on iOS and Android look like when the money dries up?

    Is the boom in tablets suggestive of an inherent superiority in form factor or is it driven by economics? Do people buy tablets because they are good or because they are cheap? Is it feasible to lump iPad and Android tablets together, though the purchasing profiles of their consumers are so disparate? Do the tablet sales numbers truly reflect demand or churn, people constantly purchasing new, cheap tablets to replace broken or poorly performing ones?

    These numbers lack context.

    • lacksnumbers

      Perhaps, but your assertions lack numbers.

      • James King

        That’s cute.

    • dannyo152

      Now, I cannot call my readings total, but so far it seems to me that the only ones who suggest that pcs will be extinct are those who then proceed to say it will not happen. When the doomsaying is attributed to a specific source, it looks to me to be a misinterpretation of the source’s actual statement, or a case where the “post-” construction is reduced to a complete switch-over from the old to the new. When societies became post-agricultural, did they stop growing food? Is post-industrial industry-free? Did post-modern art mean no one painted in a modern style? Let’s stipulate that a pc-extinct world is not at all likely, even were one to find a person of demonstrable intelligence saying exactly that.

      As to developers, the observation of sustainability may be an illusion from looking at a narrow market or a narrow time frame. We also have to distinguish between a new development company — which has to find the spot where the old trees aren’t — and the older development companies who may see their users choosing different architectures and platforms. The latter not only have to spend on porting and re-optimizing, but they also have to spend to keep up to date with the evolution of their legacy platforms. Then there’s how software pricing tends to 0. How many for-sale spreadsheet applications are there today? How many were there in 1996? How many very-capable spreadsheet programs are available today at no-cost? The fact that were more and more powerful pcs being sold every year back in the 90s didn’t help Lotus or Borland. Isn’t Excel, adjusting for inflation, less expensive than it was in 1995?

      Let’s say sustainability is a tough problem for all but the biggest of developers and, to this casual observer, even they are scrambling to change their business from selling a license and disk in a shrink-wrapped box to selling a subscription and converting the functionality to a service with downloaded native client.

      Your final “this or that” questions seem to be the wrong ones. People buy iPads (or tablet devices that use Android or pcs for that matter) because they promise to deliver something the buyer wants in a way the buyer likes at a price the buyer will pay. The essential computation that covers the largest subset of the population is the need for communications and information retrieval. It has to be a least an order of magnitude difference between those who need to figure out an amortization schedule and those who want to know how hot or cold it will be tomorrow. The value in mobile devices is their size relative to a pc and their immediacy relative to a newspaper. I would suspect that there is lots of room for growth for the products and, further, price is likely lower as the penetration among the affluent increases, just like radios, just like televisions, just like color televisions, just like flat screen televisions, and just like whatever is next in home viewed entertainment.

      Perhaps some contemplation on the radio and television transition is worth doing. 1960s US had clearly transitioned, but all the radio networks that had become television networks still had radio affiliates, mostly for news, though there were still some non-news programs. (CBS offered a nightly radio drama show from the 1970s through the 90s.) Today, only CBS remains in the radio network news business. Some of that is because they own news-format radio station in major markets. Here in Los Angeles, they own two. Given that once radio networks were heavily invested in entertainment programming, clearly in the 60s, as far as scripted entertainment, goes television “won” and one could say the US became post-radio. Did people stop buying radios? No. In fact everyone with a tv most likely had a radio, but the job to be done was providing a less-distracting background and an awakening device, not the source for the times’ equivalent of Jack Benny.

      Tablets have a steeper adoption curve than pcs did. Maybe it’s a fad, but I don’t think so. PC makers and those who needed pc growth as necessary and sufficient to their growth are going to have to, as did NBC* in the 1960s, figure out how to cope in the new, real world. That new world is clearly coming. That world will be characterized by the mass reliance on mobile devices for much of its computing and the pcs will become less important as this happens. That’s the hypothesis the chart seems to validate. The exact shape of tomorrow? The chart could never reveal that, except to the lucky, the extremely perceptive, and the future reviewer applying hindsight.

      *(NBC in the 1960s was owned by RCA who were providing content to their devices, first the radio and then the television. Since that time it has been owned by General Electric and is now owned by Comcast, as a delivery arm of an owner of other content delivery systems and content producers. As far as I know, Comcast does not sell devices, though a cable set-top box thrown in with cable service might suggest I’m wrong.)

      • James King

        So you seem to be disagreeing with my post about the numbers not providing context… by providing context? Not that I’m unappreciative because your post was very informative but I wouldn’t necessarily call it educational if you were trying to prove a point.

        Just a couple of points I’d like to address:

        “Your final “this or that” questions seem to be the wrong ones. People buy iPads (or tablet devices that use Android or pcs for that matter) because they promise to deliver something the buyer wants in a way the buyer likes at a price the buyer will pay.” – dannyo152

        This is a blanket statement that obscures context. People don’t purchase products for the same reasons. Choice or lack thereof can influence buying patterns in ways that can change should the circumstances change.

        My issues with the charts are that they advance the narrative that mobile devices are “killing” PCs. But are they? Or are two relatively separate dynamics playing out in a fashion that creates the illusion of correlation? I’d posit the latter.

        “That world will be characterized by the mass reliance on mobile devices for much of its computing and the pcs will become less important as this happens. That’s the hypothesis the chart seems to validate.” – dannyo152

        Thanks. You have now provided far more context than the charts. But why is this important? More importantly, how will this information impact choice later on?

        The main problem I have with information presented in this manner is how it eventually starts to impact choice. Say “PCs are dead” enough and, guess what? They die. I’ve seen these herd dynamics play out on at least a few occassions. I don’t use tablets and I’d prefer to not have my choices curtailed in any meaningful way by people taking information OUT OF CONTEXT.

        I could go deeper but then it becomes a philosophical discussion. I will say “Thanks” for your response. You actually proved my point.

      • dannyo152

        Not to get slippery and relativistic with you, but I think either the context would be the times or the context would be the personal questions you bring to the data.

        “Mobile is killing pc” is one narrative, but not one I think Asymco is trying to advance. The suggested narrative, or more properly the hypothesis advanced and now being tested by the data, has been explored in detail in earlier posts. Today’s update did not contradict the earlier posts, so it becomes an entry in the notebook, in much the same manner as an experiment that went as predicted becomes a terse entry in the lab notes.

        My proposed (and hardly unique ) narrative would be that “Mobile devices serve more people needs effectively than do pcs, consequently we are seeing uptake and this uptake is coming at some expense to the pc business.”

        In the wake of the first iPad’s introduction in 2010, Apple coined the phrase post-pc. I think this is where they tipped their expectations for the product, that people would embrace it more readily than the pc, what with the pc’s weight, poor battery time, and complexity, especially in the way everyone, including Apple, expects some level of sysadmin expertise for proper use of a pc.

        Google, its clients, and Microsoft, with arguably one exception in the Surface Pro, have not really stated any thing big-picture about their products that contradicts Apple’s iPad’s high concept.

        Let me be clear, I am not saying that Apple’s competitors do not market their products as having features (or pricing) that compare favorably to the iPad’s suggested shortcomings. I am saying that all the devices presume the buyer wants a very portable device with email, messaging, and the internet.

        As to supporting a negative outcomes via a herd mentality. I’ve been around awhile and I’ve been a Beta VCR owner and a Saturn driver who would have bought another. Some platforms and products disappearing is just the way it goes. Plus, is the herd really paying attention to today’s chart? Do they even pay attention to tech sites and their aggregators who seem devoted to distortion to drive page views? I suspect no. Plus, what can one do if the acorn is confused with the sky falling? I tend to think the herd is too anarchic and this falls into the realm where misinterpretations counter-balance. If, and I think it’s a big if, the pc becomes extinct, it will be because what replaced it does what the pc did and possibly more.

        I remind you that one may still buy a phonograph needle, a turntable, and recordings in vinyl. And yet, the stereo purchase slope in the late 80s would have borne a doom prediction more readily than today’s trend lines. If people need them, pcs will be made. I need a pc for what I do; I’m not worried.

        I have no answer to the question of is this important. It sure is interesting.

        The chart supports my narrative of transformation (but not extinction). But, and this is the key point about the items Mr. Dediu brings to our attention, the data drives the narrative, not the other way around.

        As a final note, thank you for your edit. I wasn’t worried about any sarcasm or disrespect and I do appreciate your concern.

      • James King

        “My proposed (and hardly unique ) narrative would be that “Mobile devices serve more people needs effectively than do pcs, consequently we are seeing uptake and this uptake is coming at some expense to the pc business.” – dannyo152

        I think this is where we diverge in thought, because I see other factors driving mobile adoption, not an inherent strength in the form factor. No one can dispute the convenience of mobile computing devices but what about the economic factors that may be driving growth in the space? As I stated in my original post, are mobile devices moving because they are good or because they are cheap? And is “good enough” an answer that really helps us gain greater understanding of the current situation?

        “I tend to think the herd is too anarchic and this falls into the realm where misinterpretations counter-balance. If, and I think it’s a big if, the pc becomes extinct, it will be because what replaced it does what the pc did and possibly more.” – dannyo152

        This is a self-justifying argument. This assumes that no product or system can be displaced erroneously through collectively irrational judgement or other flaw in collective action. I don’t subscribe to the thinking that errors can’t be committed on a massive scale. Hundreds of years of scientific and artistic history have been lost from short-sighted actions.

        “The chart supports my narrative of transformation (but not extinction). But, and this is the key point about the items Mr. Dediu brings to our attention, the data drives the narrative, not the other way around.” – dannyo152

        “The data [driving] the narrative” is exactly what concerns me. It can be interpreted in several ways, any of which can have a lasting impact. I think it presents a skewed message on its face.

        Don’t take any of what I am presenting as disagreement per se. I’m just providing my perspective. This exchange is exactly for what I was looking. Food for thought. I guess the argument could be made that this is why the forum is here.

      • Kizedek

        “As I stated in my original post, are mobile devices moving because they are good or because they are cheap?”

        It seems that PCs in general are cheap, because there is little differentiation beyond cost, and thus began an inevitable and unsustainable race to the bottom — one in which MS had to involve itself with the Surface, and stated intentions to enter hardware and services, in order to stop its own bleeding.

        But iPads are easily as costly as most PCs. Therefore, the implication is that they are good enough for many tasks for many people, as dannyo152 stated (and more, as they add location and gyroscope, etc.)

      • charly

        Sitting on a cough is much better with an iPad than a Laptop but that doesn’t mean tablets are better at all tasks. Also ipads are Apple and they are much cheaper than any Apple laptop

      • James King

        Umm no. 60% of iPad sales are the cheaper mini.

        As for the unsustainability of PC sales, Horace’s numbers don’t include white box which make up the majority of PC sales. “Other” has always sold the most PCs. At the very least, the data is incomplete.

      • Other is included. The data I publish comes from Gartner. Their data is close to IDC’s. I think so is Canalys.

      • James King

        Interesting as I used to be a white box installer and I’d have no idea how such a thing could be tracked accurately. But you can only work with the numbers you have. In any case, there’s no way PC sales could begin to match mobile even in the most optimistic circumstances.

      • dannyo152

        James King – “I think this is where we diverge in thought, because I see other factors driving mobile adoption, not an inherent strength in the form factor…”

        Fair enough. Later on you refer to economics and present the dichotomy of good or cheap. But I don’t think that mobile devices are particularly inexpensive as a rule, especially as compared to quite powerful and low-cost pcs.

        That leaves good or good enough as your answer.

        Though, I say it doesn’t have to be exclusively one or the other and there may be other factors as well. For instance, perhaps some growth is driven by a perception that app development will continue to bring further value to a specific device or to a platform in general. PCs are the tomorrow that will be like yesterday. That isn’t bad, but it isn’t exciting. Mobile, though, look where it was five years ago. Look where it is today.

        Or maybe mobile growth is being driven by fashion, and we know how that can upend those who approach markets as the product of entirely rational decisions.

        Which brings me to another point of mine that looks to need clarifying. Certainly there are bubbles — in which crowd exuberance inflates a market — and so there must be the opposite, in which crowd opinion deflates a market beyond the point a neutral, rational observer would expect. My point is that I think the pc market is buffered sufficiently to not be susceptible to conversations here on the fringe.

        But, you may be right. Did people saying “It’s too hard to find a Beta videotape.” accelerate the decline in VCR purchases, which in turn accelerated the decline in Beta videotape releases which in turn caused more people to say “It’s too hard to find a Beta videotape?” It may sound like I’m mocking the concept, but it’s a serious question that I express in — I hope — an amusing way.

        Truth may create a perception. But an untrue perception, when accepted as the truth, may affect a product or sector. I can see that.

        So, as I’ve thought this through, I’ll concede it’s possible that charts as the one above and folks interpreting it as per their (dubious) narrative may make their narrative a self-fulfilling prophecy. I am not ready to budge from my opinion that this is improbable for pcs. Not yet.

        One final note about data-driven. I am a frequent reader of Mr. Dediu’s work and a regular listener to his Critical Path podcast. If the data conflicts with his prediction derived from his hypothesis (and there have been occasions when it has) he will acknowledge the divergence and go back to seek what he had wrong. This is clearly better than folks I read who start out with a premise, such as “Apple cannot [x] and is going down.” and then cherry-pick data so as to prove they are right or narrators who dispute data that trouble their assertions, as we saw when some folks said nine million wasn’t really nine million for the iPhone 5s/5c launch weekend. The latter example demonstrates what I mean when I say I do not prefer those for whom the narrative drives the data.

        Though I guess we all vote for that type of person every election. If this were an emoticon conversation, punctuate that last sentence with a smiley.

      • James King

        “But I don’t think that mobile devices are particularly inexpensive as a rule, especially as compared to quite powerful and low-cost pcs.

        That leaves good or good enough as your answer.” – danny0152

        This is the only point with which I would contend considering how much of the growth in mobile is coming from the low-end. Remove cheap Android devices and it’s more clear that 1) the iPhone and iPad are phenomenal products and definitely hurting PC sales in their own right and 2) PCs are not a growth market but collapse is not imminent either. There are some responses from Kizedek in our discussion thread that show what I mean about crafting a narrative from hyperbole and lack of context.

        As for the rest, you make great points and thanks for at least acknowledging the logic of my position even if you disagree fundamentally. In return, I can acknowledge that Apple mobile device sales definitely suggest a paradigm shift in computing but I think cheap Android devices are muddying the waters a bit. In any case, I also think there is innovation that can drive growth in PCs but it is difficult to argue the potentiality of Microsoft or another PC OS maker getting its act together vs the actuality of very real and excellent mobile alternatives.

        Thanks for the civil exchange. It’s been a pleasure.

      • SubstrateUndertow

        “This is a self-justifying argument”
        At least that one assertion is correct !

        Give it up

        Your points are all semantics at best!

      • JohnDoey

        Nobody says PC’s will be extinct. Even Steve Jobs, when explaining the appeal of the iPad, said that PC’s are trucks that will still be needed by some small minority of computer users, while the majority drive iPad/iPhone cars that better suit their needs.

        What has changed is that the PC is no longer central to computing and neither is Microsoft. The PC is a small minority of computing and it now has to beg for apps and it doesn’t get them. Lack of apps is the #1 reason why Microsoft systems are returned today. They have almost no modern touch apps.

    • JohnDoey

      No they do not lack context. You are missing the point that Microsoft had 90% of computing and only 5 years later has 30%. Doesn’t matter how the computers are constructed. That is irrelevant. In 2008, almost everybody expected Microsoft to continue to own 90% of computing. That afforded them a special place at the center of computing that is now gone. That by itself is the most significant change in the computing market since 1995.

      • James King

        I didn’t need the charts to know that. Now please explain what the
        significance is. I already know that I can now carry a computer in my pocket. But how does Microsoft no longer being the dominant player in computing have any actual relevance? Market incumbents are displaced all the time.

        The real question is is Microsoft actually being displaced? Is the
        install base for PCs shrinking significantly? Yes, marketshare of
        total computing devices is dropping, but does that actually effect
        Microsoft? This is a company that still makes BILLIONS in software
        sales. What valuable information do you derive by seeing a smaller,
        less expensive product outsell a larger, more expensive product?

        I’m not saying that there isn’t any significance, I’m just saying
        that none of that was presented with the information. If that is OK
        with you, great.

      • Kizedek

        Well, seems like MS still making “billions” isn’t the way they see it themselves. Apparently MS sees the writing on the wall as their OEMs failed to provide compelling new products like Ultrabooks, and their race to the bottom with Netbooks crumbled, seeing many OEMs currently in dire straits. Both netbooks and ultrabooks are virtually non-existent now — because OEMs can’t profitably make them and compete with MacBook Airs and iPads.

        MS apparently sees that they won’t continue to get “billions”, because OEMs of devices that actually sell are not able to give MS the fee for Windows and Office they formerly could, as Horace often notes. Therefore, MS itself signals it’s moving into hardware and services.

        “What valuable information do you derive by seeing a smaller,
        less expensive product outsell a larger, more expensive product?”

        Interestingly, this may be true on the Windows side, but not in general, as Apple can sustain its prices and still grow sales. OEMs were always in a race to the bottom; but even Apple’s “less expensive products”, the iPad and iPhone, while outselling the Mac, still generate much more revenue and profit than the vast majority of desktop and laptop PCs!

        Couple that with the fact that iPad users do more than Netbook users ever did, and it’s funny when people complain that including mobile in “computing” is an apple and oranges comparison that doesn’t in any way suggest any significant fall-off in PC sales — apparently it is just some grand coincidence and the supposedly more accurate conclusion is that PCs are so robust and good enough that people are suddenly deciding wholesale not to replace them, at all.

        So, what valuable information do you derive? That MS should have done an iOS version of Office years ago. That, rather than finding that PCs are “good enough” not to have to get another one, many people are finding that iPads are good enough instead — even without Windows and Office. That despite selling an “insignificant” number of Macs, Apple’s revenue and profits in “computing” absolutely dwarfs the billions that MS gets from software sales (without figuring in write-offs, or some billions in expenses here and there for things like Nokia)…

        All in all, there is a disconnect: that somehow MS hasn’t completely missed the boat, when it has completely missed the boat.

      • James King

        I’m glad you responded because it validates my original post. Your points are either hyperbolic, completely lacking in context or outright false. This is why presenting information IN CONTEXT is so important:

        1)”Both netbooks and ultrabooks are virtually non-existent now — because OEMs can’t profitably make them and compete with MacBook Airs and iPads.” – Kizedek

        That’s funny because that is exactly what they are doing. To my knowledge, none of the major PC makers in unprofitable. Thin margins? Sure. Unprofitable? So far, a myth.

        2)”PCs are so robust and good enough that people are suddenly deciding wholesale not to replace them, at all, because they can continue to use them (only that use is now occasional, like that foot spa you got your mum for Mother’s Day). – Kizedek

        Really? I would expect the PC market to be in complete freefall then, not an 8% decline y/y. Hyperbole but, what the hey, as long is it advances the argument, right?

        3)”That, rather than finding that PCs are “good enough” not to have to get another one, many people are finding that iPads are good enough instead — even without Windows and Office.” – Kizedek

        Considering that PCs still outsell iPads, you really aren’t making a point. But I forgive you for lumping in those Android tablet sales because it makes your position seem more credible.

        4)”Apple’s revenue and profits in “computing” absolutely dwarfs the billions that MS gets from software sales…” – Kizedek

        Nice strawman. The profitability or sustainability of Apple’s business is not relevant to the short- or long-term viability of Microsoft’s Windows business. We are still referencing a MULTI-BILLION dollar business. Are people going to magically stop using PCs? Hell, Microsoft can stay profitable on enterprise sales alone. It doesn’t even need major OEMs, it just needs white box installers who, BTW, make up the MAJORITY of PC sales. They are also UNDOCUMENTED.

        You’d think MS was one step away from bankruptcy but the OPPOSITE is true. As I stated before, almost everyone claiming “doom” for the PC actually owns one.

        Your post is a classic example of hyperbole and lack of context driving a narrative. Sprinkle in a few real facts about Apple, mix and serve.

        I won’t even bother to outline how and why any structural issue with the PC market can actually be repaired. There is plenty that Microsoft can do to improve the relevance of PCs. Ironically enough, going full-bore into mobile isn’t one of them. But I’d prefer for this not be be a drawn out exchange so feel free to think what you want to think.

      • Kizedek

        Horace’s post is quite minimalistic, but I think the context is not entirely lacking. MS is one side of the equation, past and present. That brings to mind recent events and discussion over all the upheaval at MS — entry into hardware, entry into ARM, change of structure and direction, change of leadership, writedowns, etc.

        Then there is HP, also moving towards services. And Dell. In fact, one begins to wonder if the “upheavals” are not related in some way to changes in the PC industry and a general decline in sales. Just a thought.

        So, we have this situation where PC sales have slowed or declined for about five straight quarters, for the first time in about 30 years. In fact, this was largely denied (as was the whole PostPC thing) by the industry and pundits for a while — until recent changes at MS have put the discussion on the agenda!

        Furthermore, the denial was often centered around the very sentiment you express: a mere 8% decline is hardly a fall-off, and is nothing to worry about. Except, ironically, one had to include healthy sales of the Mac to keep the figures from being alarming (with Apple as the only one beating the industry trend). Not to mention Horace’s analysis centered around Blackberry and others, in which a “crisis” doesn’t really show for about 2 years.

        Of course millions upon millions of PCs are continuing to be built and sold. Nobody said otherwise. So? But they are less and less being build by HP and other “innovators”, and more by white-box, no-name appliance assemblers!

        But what big name OEM is producing, per quarter, 5 million “PC”s, 20 million quality tablets and 35 million high-end phones, all with about 30% margins? Are they not rethinking their entire strategy in this PostPC era?

        And then we have you giving some kind of “ho-hum” response, like “what’s so significant about that? nothing to see here, move along, of course cheaper products are going to outsell more expensive ones, duh!”.

        Well, a little hyperbole is usually in order in response to a little ho-hum. I was also a bit tongue in cheek: eg: even the most expensive and robust PCs often lack much of the quality and longevity of most of Apple’s products; so, keeping a PC around and not replacing it is more a testament to its disuse.

        The thing is: talking about things like “saturation” and “recession” doesn’t really explain why PC sales are dropping consistently for the first time in 30 years. More and more households in developing nations around the world should be ready to purchase their first PC. Hundreds of millions of households should be upgrading/replacing. Not happening. They are skipping the purchase.

        So, the significance is, if you like, that habits and buying patterns in personal computing are changing. Horace is not throwing mobile stats into a PC mix in pure unwarranted juxtaposition. It’s about computing. And this is where it is going. For most people in the world. Not that they will never use a PC; it just won’t be a priority.

      • obarthelemy

        Mac sales are actually the only of the top 5 down in the US, and down 6% wwide (HP Dell and Lenovo are all up, US and wwide)
        Desktops Macs are not more reliable than some Wintel PCs (the good ones). Laptop Macs are more reliable.

        These facts corrected…

        As for the PC upgrade cycle, it’s way too early to tell. I don’t have any case, nor have I seen any study, about people actually going PC-less. The old PCs (yes, even the non-Apple ones) are still running, and those that fail are being replaced or fixed. I think one reason for the slump is the lack of new features since USB and DVI; Windows has been good enough since XP… no good reason to upgrade, especially when an SSD is only a few twists of a screwdriver away. I don’t see any USB/DVI-like groundswell for desktops any time soon.
        The Next Big (hardware-hungry) Thing is H.265, but reasonably recent PCs will handle it fine (and the clunkers which can’t handle it are probably not used for H.264 today, except HTPCs). Phones and tablets will have more of an issue with it, so maybe it’ll boost those sales more than PCs.

      • James King


      • James King

        “So, the significance is, if you like, that habits and buying patterns in personal computing are changing.” – Kizedek

        Really? Or is the market being flooded with inexpensive computing products that sate the pent-up demand for SOME TYPE, ANY TYPE of cheap computer? Are people turning their backs on the PC because tablets are superior or PCs simply no longer superior enough?

        I don’t look at tablets and smartphones as some type of fundamental shift in the computing paradigm but a natural outgrowth. They are simply new form factors that have extended the reach of computing into new areas, not the sublimation of one form factor to another.

        You can argue the structural weaknesses showing in the PC market credibly but what you can’t do credibly is make the case that tablets are related to the decline. What we have is explosive growth in a sector that is peripherally related to the PC. When you lump mobile sales in to show the decline of the PC’s relevance in computing, what are you really showing? That people PREFER mobile devices to PCs? Or that mobile devices are simply more accessible economically? That is a relevant question because the two scenarios are far from the same thing.

        If I’m running Microsoft or one of the major OEMs, I want to know WHY mobile is eating our lunch. What factors are addressable, if any, to turn the ship around. I’m not going to read the data and assume an unavoidable paradigm shift, like many of the people on this forum and many industry analysts. I’m going to determine what the structural weaknesses of my business are and see if there is anything I can do to change it. In other words, I’m going to look at the data and attempt to find CONTEXT, the likes of which WASN’T provided. How many of those mobile sales are low-end? What are the usage demographics of those devices? Are they really competing with PCs or are they being used in entirely different ways that we may be able to address with different iterations of our product? I’m not going to buy into numbers that don’t actually say anything other than mobile devices are outselling PCs. Yeah, DUH! But WHY? Is there anything that can be done to address that? You can sit back and say “No” in your armchair but someone running a multi-billion dollar PC operation needs a lot more to go on.

        It’s funny you keep mentioning netbooks because, at one time, it was the explosive growth sector in the market. Now that netbooks are a minimal portion of the market (yes, they indeed still exist), the tagline is that they sucked. But, guess what, that isn’t why netbooks actually faded. The demand for netbooks didn’t end, the SUPPLY dried up. Intel and Microsoft were getting hammered on profit margin so they did everything in their power to stifle innovation in the market, including affecting component supply. The utility of netbooks was increasing rapidly as per Moore’s Law. By the time of their eventual displacement, you could purchase one of several models that could easily do everything tablets do right now. The problem is that no one could really make money off of them. The problem was ECONOMIC in nature, not technical.

        Guess what? The EXACT SAME DYNAMIC is playing out in tablets. There is a massive price war going on right now and profit margins, particular in Android tablets are getting razor-thin. The difference is that the component prices are much cheaper and the OS is free. But the market itself is in a race to the bottom just like the PC market. Do you think this will not impact tablet sales in the future? I do.

        And let’s look at smartphones for a minute… did you know that the overwhelming majority are used exactly as feature phones? Is this a paradigm shift or a change in supply? Until Elop’s “Burning Platform” memo, Symbian was selling on tens of millions of phones worldwide. But how many people are going to buy a platform that a company states it will phase out? This is demand drying up as a result of questions in SUPPLY, not changes in preference. There is a major difference.

        I view technology as a confluence of different form factors but analysts, industry followers, and the financial sector tend to view it from the perspective of winners and losers. Tablets win, PCs lose. But are PCs losing because of tablets or other, maybe completely unrelated structural weaknesses, such as Window 8 sucking balls? What is NOT driving growth in the PC market? Horace’s charts create many questions but answer few.

        So are “habits and buying patterns in personal computing” actually changing or simply being extended in a previously unopened direction? You’ve taken the information and formed a narrative however, in actuality, you don’t have even remotely enough information or context to support it. You’ve just decided that the pieces fit. Great. But your position is based on suppositions regarding causal relationships that the information SUGGESTS but does not PROVE.

        BTW, Macs are PCs in every sense of the word. There would be no reason not to incude them in PC sales. However, the buying and usage patterns of people who buy Android devices vs iOS devices are almost in complete opposition. A credible case can be made that an iOS device sale is not the same thing as an Android device sale.

      • James King

        I actually posted a long response that was deleted so I’ll try to address your points concisely:

        “So, the significance is, if you like, that habits and buying patterns in personal computing are changing.” – Kizedek

        That is the conclusion you drew from the data, however the data doesn’t actually prove this in the least. Indeed, the data provides no context, only compares two areas of the technology industry that are peripherally related.

        You can only draw the conclusion that mobile devices are outselling PCs. Period. Can you prove that the decision to purchase a tablet or smartphone over a PC is preferential rather than economic? Does the information suggest structural weaknesses in the PC market that may be addressable or the results of an actual paradigm shift? If I’m Microsoft or a PC OEM, I’d want to know that.

        In the end, you can’t prove anything with this data, you can only suggest things with it. The data creates more questions than it answers.

        Let’s look at your netbook example. At one point, they were the explosive growth sector of the computing industry, now practically non-existent. The revisionist history says they faded because they sucked. But by the end, you could purchase a netbook that could easily perform 80% of the tasks of a better PC and easily as much as a tablet. As per Moore’s Law, there was nothing so bad about them that time would not have corrected. The real reason they faded was because SUPPLY dried up, not DEMAND. The reality is that no one could make any real money off of them and they were eroding Intel and Microsoft’s profit margins. Intel specifically slowed innovation in the space to a crawl and played other games with component supply to discourage netbook production. The cause of the “death” of netbooks was ECONOMIC.

        Ironically, the same race to the bottom that produced the netbook is happening in the tablet space. Margins are thinning tremendously. That’s great for consumers but what do you think is going to happen to supply when it is almost impossible to make money from them, like netbooks? That will be interesting to watch.

        Did you know that the overwhelming number of smartphones are used in the same fashion as feature phones? That doesn’t suggest a paradigm shift but a change in supply. If I take my low-end feature phone off the market and replace it with a low-end Android phone, technically I’m selling you a smartphone. But have your usage patterns actually changed or did you just purchase what was available? Elop’s “Burning Platform” memo completely torpedoed Symbian, which at the time was being sold on tens of millions of phones. Was that a change in demand based on preference or one based on practicality, considering Elop made it clear that Nokia would no longer be producing Symbian phones thereby creating support questions? Context is important.

        Once again, how much of the decline in PC sales is related to structural weaknesses that can be addressed or a paradigm shift? Are tablet sales at the expense of PCs or do they simply just sate the pent-up demand for SOME TYPE, ANY TYPE of computing device at a reasonable price? Are smartphones really being used as small mobile computers? The answer for a huge portion of smartphone owners is “No.” Then why have they purchased them?

        It’s easy to interpret data to suit a pre-conceived narrative; it’s called “confirmation bias.” You’ve made suppositions regarding causal relationships that the data only suggests but does not prove. More importantly, the data does not even remotely address what may be the structural weaknesses in the PC market and if they are related to tablets in the least. Because, honestly, there is nowhere near enough evidence to draw a correlation. However, you have.

        What is happening vs. Why it is happening are two different things. The “why” is context. Horace’s data doesn’t provide anywhere near enough evidence to draw any conclusion other than smaller, cheaper devices are outselling larger, more expensive ones. Yeah, duh.

        How much are tablet sales actually impacting PC sales and how much of it is related to just a fundamental failure of the industry to serve its market? How would PC sales look if Windows 8 was actually a great product? Attributing the decline of PCs to tablets is convenient. It’s great for armchair analysts and Wall St., who are only interested in determining winners and losers. The issue is far more nuanced than that. The data and how it’s delivered should reflect that nuance.

        BTW, Macs are PCs in every sense of the word. However, it has already been shown that the buying and usage patterns of Android device users vs iOS device users are in opposition. It can easily be argued that an iOS device purchase is fundamentally different from an Android one but they are lumped together. Once again, it lacks context.

      • Kizedek

        I think PC companies would want to explore this and ask these kinds of questions. Not wait until someone told them what could or couldn’t be proved from the raw data. It seems that MS and PC companies wanted to duck the implications of a PostPC world for several years, to the point that they may now be several years behind in mobile. And they used the “you can’t prove that” excuse to do the ducking. It is only just now, with MS making sweeping changes that any debate has really begun.

        “BTW, Macs are PCs in every sense of the word. There would be no reason not to incude them in PC sales. However, the buying and usage patterns of people who buy Android devices vs iOS devices are almost in complete opposition. A credible case can be made that an iOS device sale is not the same thing as an Android device sale.” – James King

        Here I certainly agree with you. I digress, but the trouble is (and just ask Obart — actually don’t ask him, he goes on about it every chance he gets), that people think they are getting as good as an iOS device when they get many Android devices. But, that doesn’t take away from the (conclusion of a) PostPC trend illustrated in this article — particularly concerning the developing world.

        Secondly, I keep mentioning Netbooks as interesting, because Netbooks have always been considered “PCs”. Yet, iPads aren’t considered PCs. This is quite relevant.

        So, your whole contention that the discussion is somehow baseless, a little dishonest or unfair, hyberbolic or merely economic is odd. If people found the netbook suitable for their computing needs, and its demise was down to its unprofitability (something OEMs should be watching anyway, as the trend is always to smaller and smaller devices in any case); then, so too may the iPad be suitable for many people’s computing needs. If the “PC” can “evolve” to meet future needs, great; but so, too, can iPad and iOS. The PC hasn’t evolved, apparently, and OEMs are wondering where to go next; unless we want to call iPads “PC”s. There is the rub.

        You note a one-time explosive growth of netbooks. Funnily enough, for economic reasons or otherwise (what’s the difference at the end of the day), this bolstered PC sales. Yet, some transference of sales from Netbooks, say, to tablets/iPads gives us this potentially interesting situation today, despite how much you want to downplay it, call it a blip or deny it. You don’t want it to be related. And in your mind, classifying iPads as anything but a “PC” allows you to maintain your illusion. Don’t worry, you aren’t alone. But it is convenient and great for armchair analysts and Wallstreet.

        You are happy to conclude that the Netbook’s demise was down to “economic” factors, and not job-to-be-done factors. So, why can’t you accept that many people find the iPad suitable for their computing needs? Furthermore, it won’t be susceptible to the same dynamics as the netbook, because not only does it do more and perform above what is expected of it, the iPad (and iPhone) are very profitable and sustainable in contrast to many tablets. That is certainly a lesson that Apple has learned, and few other companies seem to have.

        You ask:
        “Are tablet sales at the expense of PCs or do they simply just sate the pent-up demand for SOME TYPE, ANY TYPE of computing device at a reasonable price?”

        Couldn’t we have said that about netbooks? Isn’t that the segment of PC that basically carried the industry leading up to the introduction of the iPad?

        If there is “pent up demand”, for “some type any type of computing device” and there is no good “PC product” to fulfill it (because MS screwed up the Surface or Windows 8 or its OEMs are disillusioned, or it’s economically unviable, or whatever other excuse you come up with), and if the iPad or other tablets do fulfill it… then what’s the problem? How is that not “buying and personal computing habits are changing”?

        You ask:
        “How much are tablet sales actually impacting PC sales and how much of it is related to just a fundamental failure of the industry to serve its market? How would PC sales look if Windows 8 was actually a great product?”

        If there is any meaning to that question, what is the difference? They are two sides of the same coin! Many people are doing much of their personal computing on devices other than “PCs”. Whether or not they have purchased their first PC or not. What if Windows 8 were better? Then, we’ll see! …of course, if they make a successful mobile device or tablet that runs it, that will be called a “PC”, while the iPad will continue not to be a “PC”, whatever the relative capabilities of merits of the devices! Am I right? Then somehow you will be vindicated, right!

        Yet, MS did this whole experiment into ARM and Metro (managing — or not — to maintain an illusion of “Windows Everywhere” and “PC”) because OEMs and users placed less and less value on Windows. Why couldn’t MS and OEMs just produce a better, more profitable product? Yet, Apple, with the iPad, does serve the market where OEMs and netbooks, etc. are failing to.

        One main reason the iPad hasn’t been considered a computer/”PC” in most surveys is because it would in fact highlight the issues facing the PC industry in today’s world; and highlight Apple’s success at thinking ahead and laying their groundwork years in advance; highlighting how big Apple actually is in “personal computing” (profit of top 5 OEMs, etc.). The opposite of which is exactly what you are bending over backwards to try and maintain in this thread. A large part of the forward thinking is about usability for the masses (while a few tasks will yet remain on “PC”s, naturally).

        Another reason that the iPad was not initially considered a computer/”PC” in its own right was not that it did less than a netbook (on the contrary); no, it was for something arbitrary: you hooked it to your computer to get started. That changed a while ago, so why hasn’t the status of the iPad changed to “PC”. We wouldn’t have to have this discussion if it was considered one. But, as long as there is a distinction, then we are entering a PostPC world. It’s kind of like phone vs “smart”phone — the lines are blurred. Apparently a large part of determining a device is a “PC” is whether or not it runs (some form of) Windows (however poorly), and a phone is almost a “smart”phone by definition if it but runs Android, however feature-phone like it really is or how little its “smart” features are used. So, yes, let’s hope Windows 8 gets better!

        Yet you seem determined to maintain an arbitrary split like the pundits who soothed MS and OEMs, saying that one “market” (“PC”s) has little or nothing to do with the other (personal mobile computing devices). This favors a device like the netbook or failed Surface over the iPad. The market Horace is charting is “personal computing devices”. If people use, or don’t use their chosen devices in certain ways, that makes little difference overall to what people are buying. If a device doesn’t fulfill its promise and meet a perceived need, they may switch or buy another. This was the case with netbooks, and will be the case with many Android devices, I dare say. With Apple devices, less so. The world goes on. MS and OEMs have to try something different… more Apple-like, apparently.

        You can diss my arguments all you want, as long as you realize that you don’t know whether the iPad is actually going to follow the dynamics of the netbook or not. You want to look at it as a failed experiment until MS gets Windows 8 and the Surface right, and the PC can somehow get back on track. That view buys into the PC-Mac narrative, and there is no reason it should prove out. As long as you realize that. Some kind of realization is throwing MS into turmoil. Whether they are responding appropriately has yet to be seen.

        Once again, your protests lack peripheral vision and betray a refusal to see any “context” beyond what you consciously place in your own myopic field of vision. That is what Horace seeks to address with this whole site.

      • James King

        “Once again, your protests lack peripheral vision and betray a refusal to
        see any “context” beyond what you consciously place in your own myopic
        field of vision.” – Kizedek

        My contention is that Horace’s charts lack context. The irony is that you have done exactly what I thought would happen re: the information: drawn a conclusion that the data doesn’t even remotely support. Horace is not perfect and seems to engage in non-sequitur reasoning quite a bit. You have taken what amounts to a small data set and drawn a conclusion. The problem is that there is not enough data and not enough context for you to draw that conclusion. You are actually proving my point.

        “If people found the netbook suitable for their computing needs, and its demise was merely down to its unprofitability, according to you (something OEMs should be watching anyway, as the trend is always to smaller and smaller devices in any case); then, so too may the iPad be
        suitable for many people’s computing needs.” – Kizedek

        Indeed, but do Horace’s charts actually PROVE that?

        Let’s look at how the information could be presented to provide context:

        What is the breakdown of people who own just tablets, just smartphones and just PCs?

        What is the breakdown for people who own two devices, (broken down into tablets and smartphones, tablets and PCs and smartphones and PCs)?

        How many own all three?

        How do those breakdowns correspond to region? Are there more singe device owners in poorer regions? Do people in more developed regions tend to have two or all three devices?

        What is the breakdown by economics? Age and income ranges? What, if any, is the correlation to device purchases or ownership?

        And these are just off the top of my head.

        This isn’t a matter of me being obtuse or obstinate, there literally is not enough INFORMATION from which to draw an accurate conclusion. Horace has crafted some charts that SUGGEST something. But the reality is that the data is too coarse and broad to make any reasonable conclusion. The only reason you have is because it is feeding a logical premise YOU ALREADY HAVE. The data is confirming your preconceived bias.

        “Yet, some transference of sales from Netbooks, say, to tablets/iPads gives us this potentially interesting situation today, despite how much you want to downplay it, call it a blip or deny it. You don’t want it to be related.” – Kizedek

        You obviously DO want it to be related, because the charts provided don’t support your supposition. You could be completely correct but where is the INFORMATION (not DATA, there is a difference) to support that. There is ONE chart showing PC sales rising and then falling with a spot that shows when the iPad was introduced. It SUGGESTS causation. However, it also coincides with a recession and Windows Vista. Notice the areas of growth after the iPad’s introduction? They correspond with the introduction of Windows 7. It shows that, if Microsoft introduces a GOOD OS, it can drive growth.

        Once again, the data lacks CONTEXT.

        “And in your mind, classifying iPads as anything but a “PC” allows you to maintain your illusion. Don’t worry, you aren’t alone. But it is convenient and great for armchair analysts and Wallstreet.” – Kizedek

        I never claimed tablets WEREN’T PCs architecturally so that’s a straw man. My reference to PCs is as a form-factor, not an architecture. Though I could easily make an argument that, because most use fully integrated SoCs that do not run the x86 instruction set. tablets and smartphones may be computers but NOT PCs. But in the end, my distinction is based on form factor, not architecture. So I won’t bother to respond to any criticisms from that perspective.

        “You don’t want to embrace the iPad as you would the Surface or a Netbook or whatever comes up next in the Wintel world, however poor; you want to dismiss the iPad.” – Kizedek

        I am not dismissing the iPad in the least. I have not made any judgements re: its suitability as a computing device. I personally think it is an amazing product. That is not relevant point to this exchange.

        “Yet you seem determined to maintain an arbitrary split in class of products for the sole narrow reason of declaring that one has nothing to do with the other (not the intention of Horace or a good use of the data at all).” – Kizedek

        Once again, I’m comparing form factors, not architecture. This should have been apparent.

        “Then you strawman that we hope the truck form of computing goes away forever because you are worried you won’t be able to find a truck! Talk about drawing conclusions to fit a narrative!” – Kizedek

        I ALREADY have a hard time finding at least one type of truck that I happened to like a great deal… netbooks. The same skewed arguments have already eliminated a class of product. Ultimately netbooks are a FORM FACTOR, a small, highly portable clamshell device that can perform 80% of the tasks of a PC. Think of it as a tablet with a built-in keyboard. However, the prevailing wisdom was that they “sucked,” as if poor performance was a part of their inherent design. I’ve had netbooks that worked great! And I really enjoy small laptops, I’m typing this on one right now.

        I have only found ONE model of device that meets my criteria for a netbook-like experience. the ASUS Vivobook X202E. I have one with Fedora 19 installed and it is amazing. It easily has as much utility as a tablet but with the added benefit of a keyboard.

        As I stated in another post, the issue that I have is that, when the industry takes up false narratives, people’s choices are affected.

        “You may dismiss my arguments as lacking proof, as long as you realize that you don’t know whether the iPad is actually going to follow the dynamics of the netbook or not; or whether personal mobile touch computing is merely a fad or here to stay as the main way most people in the world will do most of their computing, which seems likely.” – Kizedek

        No, I’m saying that it is conjectural and the data provided doesn’t support it. I acknowledge that you could be completely correct. However, if you want to use Horace’s charts as some kind of conclusive evidence, that isn’t going to work for you. There isn’t enough of it and what is there lacks the context to make any reasonable conclusions. I hope I have been able to illuminate that. If not, so be it.

        The problem is that there isn’t enough usable information in Horace’s charts to support ANY position.

        To clarify, I’m not challenging the logic or reasonablity of your assumptions. They are perfectly logical and reasonable. But they are ASSUMPTIONS. There is simply not enough evidence in the charts to support them or ANY position. There is no context. It is important because, in the end, these matters are likely to affect choice. It already has in my world, it may in your world at some point as well.

  • leromerom

    Is this article indirectly referring to HP’s 5 year plan?

    • JohnDoey

      Probably not.

    • obarthelemy

      5 years plans are a mainstay of central planners. The USSR had it, China has it, and I still remember our Commissariat au Plan… oh wait, it seems it has been reactivated by our current government. World domination to follow, surely.

      • SubstrateUndertow

        Do you have a problem with the # 5 or are you just opposed to planning in general ?

        Everyday I wake up to find myself biologically trapped in my own little world of central planning!

        Surely some degree of central planning is necessary in all complex systems?

      • obarthelemy

        As with many things: it depends. Planning is not bad/evil per se, nor is it intrinsically good. Bad planning is bad (probably worse than no planning), good planning is good.
        The main examples of planning I’ve studied always seem to be from top-heavy if not dictatorial structures such as the USSR, and successs always seems to be credited to innovation not planning (except in MS’s embrace-extend-extinguish playbook). Thus, I’m skeptical. I guess it’s like my field (marketing): hard to do well.

    • I have not heard of such a thing.

  • Walt French

    “Penetration” is roughly the cumulative number of PCs bought less cumulative discards, all divided by the market size. If their lifetime were infinite (no discards), and the market roughly constant, then sales of PC would simply be the first derivative of the logistics curve (e^x/(1 + e^x)^2; per Mathematica), which resembles the normal “bell curve” (but is not).

    With the relatively short 5-year chart above, and the known fact that discards/replacements are economically sensitive, I wouldn’t hazard a guess about how sales will decline. But if we’re pretty close to maximum penetration of PCs, then all the recent sales have been replacements and that might not be so far off. If PC lifetimes stretch out farther — because of increased reliability (√), declining rates of improvement (√), new Jobs To Be Done going to other devices (√), or simple substitution (√), then sales could fall more rapidly than they ramped up.

    OTOH, if the market can expand by addressing new, lower-income users, either OLPC or ARM-powered laptops (√), or if PCs could be made to work very well for new JTBDs, e.g., movie-watching (×), there’d be a new uptick. I don’t think people would count devices like HP’s new Chromebook as a PC but I’m pretty sure that HP is thinking about them the same way they think about PCs.

    I personally can’t imagine moving the bulk of my desktop/laptop usage to my wife’s iPad, and I can’t imagine that the billions of people who don’t yet own a 5″ or bigger screened computer would be so much better served by a tablet than by a laptop, that tablets will become the new laptop. Whether it’s powered by a legacy OS or a mobile one, I think lower-cost laptop devices will continue to keep the sales from dropping precipitously — as long as you put Chromebook-type devices into the PC bucket.

    • Space Gorilla

      Yep, I think an iOS Air is inevitable. I’ve been using an iPad 2 in a ZAGGFolio keyboard case and it is great, very comfortable to use. It has replaced my MacBook Pro for business and travel use. I really like the combination of hardware keyboard and touchscreen. I prefer it to a mouse/trackpad and hardware keyboard.

      • obarthelemy

        I’m wondering whether a iOS laptop or an ARM MacOS are more likely in the medium term. Both seem feasible, even a hybrid.

        I stil lthink a gaming Apple TV will come first, but I’m getting desperate :-p

      • Space Gorilla

        The Apple TV Pro is almost certainly on the horizon, but might be a couple years out. I’m sure Apple has a solution, but what I want is a couple terabytes on board storage, or a plug and play external storage solution. I’m very fussy about any lag, I would prefer to have games, movies, music, directly plugged into my 55 inch TV, rather than on my iMac and shoved to the TV with Airplay. But I suppose there are technical solutions to solve the lag problem, and it would be more elegant if everything was wireless.

        I imagine the Apple TV with the A7, third party controller, playing Infinity Blade, etc on my 55 inch. Lots of opportunity there for Apple.

      • AppleTV which uses iOS devices or Bluetooth controllers would be great. I don’t think the AppleTV needs to be the storage device — I’d prefer Apple to get more streaming-centric with content.

      • Space Gorilla

        You’re probably right, I’m always worried about lag and stutter, can’t stand it. But I imagine that’s an issue that can be fixed.

      • obarthelemy

        I can barely stream HD over my wifi (there’s about 30 SSIDs walking all over each other, and 5GHz isn’t very good with walls), I think at least local caching and pre-downloading of requested/computer-selected movies/shows is a requirement for mainstream usability.

      • My main issues with streaming HD to my AppleTVs are with what’s going on between my ISP and me and not the wireless LAN (e.g. we have cable internet, and it gets creaky during peak hours in our apartment building), and that’s with the old (802.11n) Airport Express. The new tower should be better. In general, I think I’d rather deal with networking issues (e.g. place a few more repeaters around a house, or whatever) than deal with managing storage. That said, if Apple put a multi TB hard disk in the AppleTV and did smart pre-fetching of content off-peak, I wouldn’t be opposed.

      • Shameer Mulji

        I don’t see Apple doing a hybrid. Their strategy so far has been to keep the Mac a Mac and the iPad an iPad & never the two shall meet. Personally, I’m happy they do that.

        Mainstream computing is definitely moving to tablets / ARM-based devices and it would be a great if Apple released a large “Pro” version of the iPad that can be a laptop replacement.

        It’s not out of the realm of possibility that Apple segments their laptop / tablet line like as per the following;

        Consumer – iOS / iPads
        Pro User – OSX / MacBook Pro

      • obarthelemy

        Yes, but that’s leaving money on the table (or giving too much money to Intel ^^)
        – there are a lot of consumers who want a keyboard, a bigger screen, more storage… but are perfectly happy with iOS apps. Actually, who *prefer* iOS vs MacOS (respectively, Android vs Windows).
        – from my experience with Android desktops, that works well (though Android has the advantage of the system-wide Back and Menu keys/buttons)
        – even nerdy me would sometimes love to have my Android stuff on my PC. Well, I do have it in a VM, but it’s not well integrated and there’s a bug with the mouse that ruins it.

      • JohnDoey

        If Apple puts Mac apps on ARM I think they will add touch and jettison Flash/Java and everything 32-bit.

    • barryotoole

      I saw the Surface Pro the day it was launched; my wife and I were in a SF mall. I was impressed with the HW construction, and the keyboard – I wished I had that as a cover for my iPad.

      The mistake MS made was trying to have a full Windows OS on it, unlike the iOS which is an OSX on diet. Also, the Surface is rather heavy to use as a tablet.

      Since the iPad 1, I’ve been doing more and more of my tasks on it instead of my laptop or desktop. In fact, I am starting to prefer iOS apps. I wish that Apple makes an iPad Pro and somehow manages to put a HW keyboard along with it.

      The issue with any miniBook is orientation. I find it easier to type with my iPad on the folded cover, whereas it will be difficult to have a clamshell design on laptops. The screen perpendicular to the desk is good for larger screens only. If we are to have a pro tablet as a laptop replacement, and still be usable as a tablet, the clamshell is not the right design.

      Like many third-party vendors’ keyboards for iPad, Apple can design a keyboard that occupies only half the cover, to circumvent MS’s patent. Also, an 11″ iPad, about the size of a MBA, should also be considered.

      It would be interesting to see what Apple’s roadmap is with this new 64-bit chip. Of course, RAM can be increased, as can flash memory.

    • Accent_Sweden

      So we are at peak PC.

  • Jessica Darko

    I’m glad you’re not calling android activations shipments. We still desperately need an objective source of android sales data. Gartner, et. al. are not credible. I don’t know how long you’ve been paying attention to these things, Horace, but these companies impeached themselves in the 1990s when they put out blatantly false data (provably so) to bolster the perceived success of their customers, namely microsoft.

    I consider them little more than PR agencies that make up numbers.

    • Hacker For Hire

      Spoken like a true Microsoft shill.

  • DarwinPhish

    My bet is that Apple, Google and others will be more successful taking sales away from traditional computing devices running Windows than Microsoft will be in expanding into smartphones, tablets and other new form factors.

    • Jessica Darko

      Your guess seems highly likely, if Microsoft doesn’t change its ways. However, microsoft is clearly changing its ways. It’s an open question if that will be successful or not.

      FWIW, I worked for microsoft in the 1990s. Back when they were “on top of the world”. All the problems we see now, were there then, and were pretty well understood by other people working at microsoft.

      So, either the problem stemmed from Gates/Ballmer’s leadership, or it is endemic to the culture. Can’t say for sure, but one of those is about to be tested.

      • DarwinPhish

        Amongst Microsoft’s problems today, and probably at the top of the list, is the competitive environment in which they succeeded is so very different than the one they face today. Back in the 90’s, there wasn’t an Android equivalent to compete against (that is, a freely available and competitive licensed OS). So when they were battling it out 15-20 years ago, they were able to ally themselves with hardware manufacturers. Today, largely because of the presence of Android and Chrome, Microsoft has to go it alone. Microsoft is very new to the hardware business and has a long way to go to catch up with the likes of Apple and Samsung.

        There an old saying that armies are built to win the last war which is why they are often ill-prepared for current warfare. The same applies to companies.

      • obarthelemy

        This. MS nailed it and are still nailing it in the entreprise, but today’s battle is consumer.

      • I think people forgot that Microsoft was handed its OS monopoly on a platter and did a great job of converting that into an office application monopoly. The fact that it also became powerful in gaming in part followed from this but also benefited from the abject incompetence of its competitors (e.g. Commodore, which ran itself into the ground, and Apple which was bizarrely hostile to game developers).

        I don’t think there’s an IBM to hand Microsoft another OS monopoly, Apple has stopped being hostile to game developers (Google isn’t that stupid; Sony on the other hand might be that stupid), so I just don’t see Microsoft getting a second chance at dominance. If it had taken an “Office Everywhere” versus “Windows Everwhere” approach to iOS it might have continued its application dominance for a while.

      • obarthelemy

        Well, to give credit where it’s due, MS are GREAT at leveraging one dominance into another sector (BTW, you forgot servers: file/print/users, SQL, Sharepoint). We’ll see how that works in the mobile sector, for the moment it is not a complete disaster, which is more than can be said of anything else non-iOS and non-Android.

        Intel have now upped their Atom game and are competitive on tablets (not quite on phones), opening the possibility of legacy software and a true desktop/laptop equivalent Win8, 8″ or 10″, $299-$599 hardware. That’s giving me pause, because though I like my Android tablet, I still sometimes *need* my netbook or laptop for a bit more hardcore Office work or vertical apps or as a mobile server. If the apps ever get there, I might go Windows just so I can consolidate devices. The core OS is arguably already at par.

      • Fair points (although IMO Sharepoint is a disaster). I agree that Microsoft could easily be competitive again and decently-powered do-everything tablets could be their salvation (I nearly bought a Surface Pro because I could use it as a portable graphics tablet — and then I tried the keyboard).

      • James King

        This. x 100

        I still think Windows is going to need a major overhaul to be competitive again.

      • charly

        Microsoft killed most of its competition when Windows 3.11 appeared. In the 90’s it really only had to deal with IBM and OS2. Problem for IBM was that Microsoft is a much nicer monopolist so everybody choose them.

        Microsoft won the last war because they are not good at extracting money out of their monopoly. Problem is Google is even worse run so people choose them. It is also the biggest reason why Apple is going to loose again

    • handleym

      I think it’s mistaken to believe that the fall in PC (and Mac) sales is the result of tablets. IMHO it’s the result of PCs becoming a white goods market. The machines are good enough now, they last five years or more, and there’s generally no reason to replace them before they die. Tablets and phones expand the market, but they don’t much replace it.

      So what?
      (a) This does not mean the end of Microsoft’s power over the enterprise. But it does mean less money for MS, even from that dependable source, unless they are willing to admit they made a terrible mistake with the Win8 UI and can somehow ship a Win9 that is a compelling upgrade. Otherwise they’re stuck in an extension of the Win XP world — people buy one MS OS which they just keep using until its host dies.

      Subscriptions are supposed to solve that problem. Maybe MS can get enterprise to bite? But they may not want to push too hard because I think they don’t want to learn just want happens when enterprise asks “do we REALLY need so many annual licenses for Office or Windows or server? What if we tried moving such and such a department to Google Office, or to Macs running Pages + Numbers?”

      (b) IF Apple has in mind some sort of grand OSX XI (an equivalent to the UI overview of iOS7) they may be able to keep Macs on a faster upgrade cycle for a few years. But I don’t think an immediate OSXI is in the cards. To do that right really needs a full bench of retina displays and they obviously don’t have that yet.
      I think there IS a grand OSXI coming in a few years. The important parts will be a substantially redesigned set of Frameworks and probably a new programming language (basically fix all the issues that have grown up in the 20+ years of NextStep and Objective C, including what has been learned from the small scale cleanup that went into Cocoa Touch), but it will come with a completely new visual appearance to sell it to users as well as developers.
      But that’s too far away to affect Macs also as white goods.

      (c) Phones and tablets are also headed for white goods status. I’d be curious to see the uptake of Jump (and it’s equivalent on the other carriers). These plans strike me as crazy stupid, but people are crazy stupid. My guess, however, is that phones (5C almost, 5S pretty much with fingerprint) have reached good enough status, and tablets will be there after this round of updates. My iPad3 with 1GB of RAM feels slow when reading complicated PDFs. My guess is that replacing it with an iPad5 with 2GB of RAM will be something I can live with for 5 years.

      • DarwinPhish

        “I think it’s mistaken to believe that the fall in PC (and Mac) sales is the result of tablets.”

        It’s only mistaken to think tablets (and smartphones) are the ONLY reason why PC sales have stagnated. The reasons you give are also valid.

        Nothing written above says Microsoft or traditional PCs are going away. They are just going to become a smaller part of a bigger category. All recent growth in computing devices has come from tablets and
        smartphones, not from desktops and laptops. This trend is likely to
        continue and will likely only change when another category of devices is

      • JohnDoey

        No, you can ask iPad buyers and 80% tell you they bought iPad instead of a Mac or PC. iPad by itself sells way more units than HP, so it has a huge effect on the PC market to drain away those unit sales.

      • obarthelemy

        I actually don’t personally know a single tablet owner who doesn’t also have a desktop PC *and* a laptop PC. 1st World ^^

      • isitjustme

        Yes 1 PC but many iPads and smartphones in a household.

        More cars are sold than truck, you can quote Jobs on that.

      • obarthelemy

        Actually 1+1=2 ? And if I start quoting Jobs, how do I handle 7″ tablets ?

      • Kizedek

        This again? 7.9” at 4:3 is significantly larger than 7″ at 16:9. Closer in area to the 9.7″ iPad than to 7″ tablets.

      • obarthelemy

        A) “7.9” at 4:3 is significantly larger in area than 7″ at 16:9″
        First, 7″ tablets are 16:10 (1280×800, 1920×1200).
        Second, 7.9″ at 16:10 is 136% of that.

        B) “The iPad Mini is closer in area to the 9.7″ iPad than it is to 7″ tablets.”

        7″ @ 16:10 = 22.02 sq. inch
        7.9″ @ 4:3 = 29.96 (136% of 7″)
        9.7″ @ 4:3 = 45.13 sq. in (205% of 7″)

        7.9″ is way closer to 7″

        We’re left to wonder if the twisted facts and the faulty maths are intentional or… just twisted and faulty.

      • significant

        Is 36% not significant to you?

      • obarthelemy

        Yes. But 7.9″ @ 4:3 is way closer to 7″ @19:10 (or even 16:9) then to 9.7″ @4:3.

      • significant

        Then I don’t your point in “A)”.

      • Kizedek

        You’re right, it’s about 40% larger than most 7″, but not closer in area to the regular iPad. Sorry. It’s on-screen keyboard is usable in landscape mode, however.

    • obarthelemy

      Aside from tablets and phones, there already are Android desktops and laptops. Minix is a maker of good $100-ish Android desktops, Lenovo is just announcing a $250 Android laptop (not a ChomeBook).

      The Minix desktops around me are appreciated for their reliability, ease of use (both the OS and the apps, for example, the Home and Back key that work consistently *everywhere* make for an UI far superior to Windows’, and of course the apps are cut-down, which suits most users fine), and lack of viruses compared to Windows. Also, with an xbox/dualshock gamepad, they double up as fun and very cheap consoles.

      Widgets are another key feature: having your Skype/Hangouts contacts and messages, your emails, and whatever else you want (other IM, meteo, facebook feed, twitter, to-do list…) right on the home screen makes for a much quicker/easier expereince than Windows.

      The main drawback in general is lack of some specific apps (Scrabble, genealogy), some performance hiccups, and, for geeky me, lack of windowing (split-screen or PIP like on my Samsung tablet would be lovely). And lack of familiar brand names with local warranties.

      My guess would be that around 50% of Wintel PCs around me could be replaced by Android desktops.

      • SubstrateUndertow

        Its just a matter or time, and very little time at that, before desktops/tablets/smartphones merge.

        The desktop experience will be near free when delivered as an extension of most mobile devices casting video out to any available large screen.

        Apple is well positioned with its robust iOS/OSX/hardware ecosystem integration to dominate this newly integrated computing landscape!

        This more integrated value equation will make Apple much more competitive in emerging markets.

        64-bit ARM is on the move!

      • obarthelemy

        You do realize that both Windows and Android already have devices in the phone, tablet, laptop, desktop, and in the case of Android console, formats, all in an unified ecosystem, whereas Apple’s is still fragmented between iOS, MacOS and AppleTV, and doesn’t seem particularly close to unification ?

      • steven75

        Unified ecosystem? Then why do Chromebooks exist?

      • obarthelemy

        I sometimes wonder myself :-p

        – it’s a different ecosystem
        – it’s very embryonic
        – it’s rather more limited

        My best guess is that it exists because
        – it’s kind of a virtual OS: ChromeOS apps can/will soon be running on Windows, MacOS, Android, basically anything that can run real Chrome (not iOS then)… besides running on standalone ChromeOS.
        – its very limitations make it a better fit for corps and edu: centralized management, option to force cloud/server storage…

      • isitjustme

        Funny I can see all my files in every Apple product I owned.

  • JohnDoey

    I don’t know what it will look like in 2018, but I would bet it will be even better for Apple than it is today.

  • DJTaurus

    On those PC shipments we measure only branded boxes. PC components which consist lots of PC’s are out of the equation. It is like Chinese white boxes… you cant measure it. Unless if PC numbers of 2008 that Horace is reporting were also only from branded pc boxes…? Also it is weird that only in gaming department PC’s have not declined. I hope we will soon see really great games/experiences on mobiles with console comparable quality. Those casual games would never gain profits like GTAV/COD etc…

    • Supercell the company behind Clash of Clans makes over $2.4 million dollars a day with 95 employees.

      That’s a whole lot of profit.

    • Space Gorilla

      Infinity Blade on my iPad is already darn nice. New iPads on Oct 22nd should be quite a leap forward graphics/power-wise.

  • Jim Wallace

    For the sake of completeness, where does RIM/Blackberry fit into those pictures?

    • SubstrateUndertow

      It doesn’t 🙂

      • Walt French

        More precisely, the Playbook sold so poorly that its area wouldn’t be a single pixel high.

        So the charts actually “show” the BB data completely.

      • Jim Wallace

        It did in 2008.

  • Hub

    Looking back the past 5 years can only tell us one thing:

    Try to predict what will happen in the next 5 years is a futile effort…

    The entire idea of “personal” computing is reshaping right in front of our eyes, I’m just glad to live in this time and can be a small part of this “evolution”.

    Think about it, Apple may announce an iWatch in 2014 which can perform 30% of functions in an iPhone, and if that happens, the existing personal computing infrastructure of “PC – tablet – phone” will be reshuffled again. Same disruptive effect can happen from different direction with iPad Pro, new Apple TV, bigger screened iPhone, not even counting other potential disruptive technology like iBeacon, and who knows what else Apple has cooking in their lab for the next 5 years….

    • SubstrateUndertow

      Yes indeedy ! Just as an example:

      It seems inevitable to me that Apple will sooner than later deliver an iPad with enough 64-bit horsepower to dual boot iOS and OSX using airplay/dongle for the external video monitor/TV interface and its lightning-connector or wi-fi for external storage. Bring your own wireless mouse and keyboard and your done.

      Maybe at some point that could even be done with the iPhone ?

      Maybe even a high end Apple-TV will bring the full iOS/OSX experience to your big screen, no iMac required.

      At this point it seems more like a self-cannibalization marketing-breakpoint decision than a technical limitation for Apple.

    • It is easy to predict next 5 years for Apple, if iWatch will be released as a watch, iPad Pro, new iPhones with bigger screen – these will be mobile devices in post-mobile world. If that happens, in 2019 I see Forstall as a CEO salvaging what he can.

      • Space Gorilla

        Post-mobile world? Not sure what you mean. When computing is all around us and easily available all the time, that’s just a mobile world. I wonder if there even is such a thing as a post-mobile world? I suppose if humans stop moving around, when we all just jack in and sit in comfy chairs while we do everything virtually, but even that is mobile in a sense. Humanity, by its nature, is mobile.

      • Like, humanity 10 years ago, was Personal Computing? Google Glass is first device of post-mobile, neither tablet, nor smartphone. This is augmented, (or context as Scoble would said). Saying that all devices that move with human are mobile, is like saying that iPad is a PC, kind of.

        Can you spot difference:

        Ballmer laughs at iPhone:

        Tim Cook about Google Glass:

      • Space Gorilla

        All devices that move with humans *are* mobile devices. And the iPad clearly *is* a PC. You’re making a false distinction here to make a point, poorly. It’s fairly obvious that mobile devices will become contextually aware, drive wearables and other augmented devices. But it’s not post-mobile. I was hoping it was just a typo when you wrote that.

  • In the 3rd chart – where are the Macs?

  • Naofumi

    I think it’s a bit too early, notably because IDC noted a decline (-9.7%) in 2Q13 tablet shipments compared to 1Q13. If the same downward trend is observed in 3Q13 (which as you note, data is not yet available), this will suggest market saturation.

    If so, then there is reason to doubt that the current crop of tablets (which lean towards media consumption as Steve Balmer has commented) will truly replace PCs in the future. We might have to wait for tablet hardware and software that is more optimized for productivity, or it might not happen at all.

    Either way, I have to note that not all data is rosy for tablets at this point, especially 2Q13. Another few quarters of data will give us a much better view.

    • obarthelemy

      Actually, the Netbook story might repeat itself, though with different numbers. Netbook addressed a small market, saturated it, failed to evolve, faded away in sales though not in usage (there might be a resurgence if/when they start failing or progress is finally allowed in that segment).

      Maybe tablets are susceptible to the same mechanics, ie addressing a smaller market than extrapolating their explosive growth seems to suggest, and failing to create much of a replacement market. Anecdotal evidence around me suggests that upgrade cycles are really slow for most people: people around me have no plans to upgrade, not even their original iPads, TouchPads, … actually no one I know plans to upgrade except gadget hound me.

      • Naofumi

        The anecdotal evidence that I find is the same. I think it is related to the fact that Google and Amazon adopted the razor and blades business model and have hence positioned tablets as media devices. Horace has previously discussed that these business models discourage innovation on the device itself, and encourage long upgrade cycles. That might be what we are on the verge of seeing in the tablet space.

        For tablets to replace PCs in productivity, more innovation has to happen on the device (especially on software and the user interface). Tablets are still far from good-enough in productivity. This innovation is more likely to come from Apple and Microsoft and other 3rd parties which make money from software, rather than Google or Amazon, solely because of their business models. But this is my thought only. We don’t have data yet.

        We need data for a few more quarters.

      • br3in

        It depends from your definition of productivity. Many (most?) people never actually needed a PCs for what they need to accomplish and Tablets are good for them. The complex taks that are done with PCs will continue to be done on PC for intrinsic reasons rather than technical ones like processor power and such: bigger screen estate, more input devices (keyboards, mouses, touch pads, graphic tablets, assistive devices) and so on.

      • SubstrateUndertow

        Extending that logic ?

        It depends on your definition of productivity. Many (most?) people don’t actually require a tablet for what they need to accomplish and a Smartphone maybe good enough for their needs.

        PC vs tablet vs smartphone
        The actual cost vs benefit vs need percentages have not yet been shaken out by collective experience ?

      • Naofumi

        I think that the point that you raise is very important.

        In fact even before the iPhone, many feature phone subscribers in Japan used i-mode for their email and Internet needs, and did not use personal computers at all at home. With the advances in smartphones, and especially smartphone optimized websites, using smartphones for browsing has become quite comfortable.

        Technical advances (including mobile-website design know-how) have brought smartphones closer to tablets. On the other hand, I personally feel that tablet innovations have not focused on bringing tablets closer to laptops.

        In my view, it used to be that
        smartphone <<< tablet << laptop

        It is now
        smartphone < tablet < laptop

        I'm not sure that there is enough room for the tablet in the mass market going forward.

      • Sacto_Joe

        One very important aspect of the tablet form factor is the ability to type on its virtual keyboard. I have big hands, and for that reason alone, I won’t ever be buying an iPad Mini. Thus, for me, your (obvious) push towards subsuming the tablet into the “phablet” regime just won’t work, period.

        The other shoe that hasn’t dropped is going the exact other way with a smartphone; that is, making it much, much smaller, to the point where it can be worn on a wrist. If Apple has indeed cracked that particular nut, then tablets will never subsume into smartphones.

        I might also add that that particular nut (the wearable computer) will eventually be cracked in any case. There’s too big a potential market for it not to be.

      • charly

        Smartwatches are so small that even little children can’t use a virtual keyboard on them. phablet have obviously no future because Apple doesn’t make them but with the latest 6″versions i wonder what the difference is between a phablet and a 7″er

        Problem with the weartable computer is that they are too invisible and don’t get the status market

      • Sacto_Joe

        You don’t use a keyboard on a smart watch; you use Siri.

      • charly

        I don’t see people using speech interfaces. They don’t work in a social context and they have issues with thinking delays

      • Naofumi

        No, I don’t think the tablet will morph into a phablet at all.

        Rather, I think that if you get a 64-bit processor in a smartphone, you might as well connect your keyboard to your phone (even an iPhone) if you really need to write. About ten years ago, I had a foldable keyboard which you could stick your Palm Pilot onto and it was rather nice.

        Or you could simply use a laptop. Laptops are getting thinner and thinner and more energy efficient thanks to Haswell, and in many ways approaching tablets.

        What I’m saying is that the niche that tablets occupy in between smartphones and laptops seems to be getting narrower and narrower. This is from both the smartphone side and the tablet side.

        My thinking is, if we see a stagnation in the tablet market in continuation of the IDC data for 2Q2013, that might indicate that the tablet market itself is being squeezed by smartphones, and to a lesser extent, thinner and more efficient laptops.

        I can’t be sure that we’ll see such stagnation, but I think that it is quite possible.

      • charly

        Tablets are for the couch. Phablet are for people who carry a pouch. I don’t see man doing that so tablets are for men on the couch. The can also be much cheaper as status is less important when you are in your home.

      • Naofumi

        I think we should go back to what Steve Jobs said back in 2003. Steve Jobs said tablets were great for rich guys who could afford their 3rd computer. I believe this logic is as valid today as it was then. Steve Jobs in 2003 regarded the tablets of that era to be supplemental to PCs, not a replacement, and if so, they would only be a niche market.

        The question is, will you recommend a tablet + smartphone combination over a PC + smartphone combo for an average household that doesn’t have any other computing device in their house. Maybe the mother will occasionally have to create a Word or Excel document for the PTA? Maybe the kid will have to write up some homework on a word processor? Maybe the family has small kids in which case you will be taking thousands of photos that you need to store somewhere. Can you still recommend a tablet (esp. Android) over a PC for their sole productivity device, even if they rarely use it for productivity?

        I know I wouldn’t. Hence tablets are not yet good enough in my view to replace PCs. They are supplemental.

        But this again is anecdotal.

        If the data for the next few quarters suggest that tablet sales are slowing, then that would suggest that the tablet market is saturating and was actually smaller than initially envisioned and probably much smaller than the PC market. A larger niche than Steve Jobs mentioned in 2003, but a niche nonetheless.

        If sales growth recovers, then the possibility remains that the tablet market might replace the PC market.

        We just can’t tell yet.

      • obarthelemy

        Actually, would you recommend a Linux, Windows or MacOS PC to poor and technology-challenged users ?
        It’s way easier to connect a keyboard, mouse, screen and HD to an Android tablet or desktop – it’s all plug-and-play – than to install, maintain, admin an old-style PC. The apps are also easier to use, and for simple docs Office compatibility is OK. And it’s way cheaper, more resilient to electric grid issues…

      • Naofumi

        I would recommend a Mac. They are actually pretty good in the plug-and-play department.

        Although the tablet app are quite easy to use, there are serious problems in storage. If you have small kids, you’re going to take up something close to 100Gigs of storage for photos and videos per year. I don’t think that tablets are up to that task yet.

        Regarding Office-style apps, sometimes compatibility is of the utmost concern. It depends a lot on the circumstances. Sometimes 90% compatibility isn’t enough. Even for casual users. It is not necessarily correct to assume that casual users should be able to put up with less compatibility. Sometimes they will demand more. Even Mac Office has significant problems in casual use, and I am not sure that I want to risk even more.

      • obarthelemy

        You must have missed the “poor” criteria: Apple lists the cheapest iMac at 1.299€, the cheapest HP (20″ screen, 4 GB RAM, 500GB HD,DVD RW, Win8) is 400€.
        Same for laptops, the cheapest MacBook is 999€, the cheapest Wintel, 349€ (Celeron, 4GB, 500GB).
        In both cases, Wintel costs about a third of Apple. Sure, not the same quality, performance… but same jobs done, in this case.

      • charly

        You forget the mac mini. But is still twice as expensive as the hp when you buy your own screen

      • Naofumi

        Indeed I did. In that case, I would recommend that they stick with their smartphone and only use the PC at school or the office when they need a PC. That way, they could also save on their broadband Internet connection which isn’t exactly cheap either.

        If they do decide that they must have broadband Internet, many providers will offer you a free Android tablet or netbook in exchange for a two-year contract, at least in Japan. I wouldn’t recommend the Android tablet, but a Netbook might be OK.

        Either way, I don’t see tablets in their current incarnation, replacing PCs for the majority of consumers. It is very likely that we are just a couple of innovations away from tablets becoming good enough, but I don’t think we’re there yet.

      • Walt French

        I actually *WOULD* recommend a tablet for the occasional spreadsheet or Word doc. Your example is exactly the sort of person who’ll find it easier to bang out something useful without learning how to set up multiple styles or footnotes in Word. Sit down, futz a bit, write, tweak & publish. Typing was slower? Too bad; buying, installing, hassling Microsoft’s stupid licensing policies, learning one’s ways around the bloated menu interfaces, spending an hour just to figure out how to negotiate Word’s Help system for anything as complex as “margins,” … all that and more costs much more than the glass keyboard or the lack of a grammar checker does.

        Professionally, I need pretty advanced Excel. Personally—say, tracking my frequent-flyer miles to the next award level—it’s overkill and any missing functions in Numbers (which I don’t use) can be faked with a couple of extra “+” signs or “if” functions.

      • Sacto_Joe

        Yep. Horace’s charts tell the story: The consumer market for computers just expanded way past what it used to be. And new users are going to be more interested in getting the job done than in worrying about whether they’re following an industry standard. Indeed, that’s how “industry standards” get changed. IMHO, Microsoft’s shut the barn door a couple of years too late. They’d have been better served to just run Office on the iPad from the get-go and kept it a standard.

      • Naofumi

        If we consider web usage statistics as an approximate estimate of installed base, then they suggest that tablet penetration is still below 10% in the US, one of the countries with high tablet usage. ( )

        This suggests that although tablet unit sales may have surpassed PCs, the war is still far from over. The current trend visible on Horace’s charts may extend towards the future, or the trend may significantly change in the next few years. We can make guesses, but at this early stage, we can’t be sure.

      • charly

        Tablet use is by consumers. Anything done during working hours or in school, library etc is not likely to be done on tablets

      • Naofumi

        Good to know. I think the jury is divided as to what you would recommend to your “casual” computing neighbor, and that’s my point.

        I’m not sure what percentage of people take your view as opposed to mine, but I’m sure that it’s not yet large enough to relegate PCs to “trucks”. Therefore, I wouldn’t be surprised to find a saturation point before tablets get even close to PCs in overall usage.

      • sbono13

        I agree with Steve. Tablets are great for people who can afford a 3rd computer, probably any family that can afford a 2nd computer. The days of having 2 computers in a typical household are going away. I know I need TurboTax once a year. For now, that means my family needs to own a computer. But for the majority of the year, my computer is unused, as we have 3 iPads in the house, which satisfy our daily needs quite nicely.

      • obarthelemy

        Not convinced: all the peripherals you list are supported in Android, for example. And there’s been 12-13″ tablets for a while (actually, all the way to 20″ I think, though this is more of a curio).
        I think it’s the software that differentiates, not the hardware, more precisely needs for specific/legacy software, or for still missing OS features (windowing…)

      • Sacto_Joe

        You miss Walt’s point. Microsoft has lost their “lock” on Office. Sure, Android is in there pecking away, but so is Apple. The battle for the average consumer can never be won now by a single entity. It’s going to come down now to other strengths, like user loyalty, and bang for the buck, and other such squishy issues.

        That’s the real import of Horace’s charts.

      • Walt French

        Office is indeed THE differentiator, but as people increasingly get used to either quickly-formatted notes and messages, or more dynamic presentations than PowerPoint offers, it’s being caught in the middle.

        Ironic that Apple, whose first revolution relied heavily on desktop, presentation-quality documents and the first Microsoft spreadsheet, might topple the standard such, based on a “lite” version (Numbers) and a snazzy one (Keynote), with writing pretty much being subsumed into ordinary email or other programs.

      • Walt French

        I use PCs with three and four screens in my offices; ain’t never gonna be a tablet that “replaces” them for my tracking financial markets. But that doesn’t at all address the broader productivity needs. Last time I watched a news conference, reporters were using PCs, MacBookAirs, iPads+keyboards and yellowpads in very roughly equal proportion.

        Those reporters all fit into the very definition of “productivity workers” and putting myself into their shoes, I might have used any of the solutions.

        No, today’s tablets are a bit limited in the software, certainly in part because of their smaller screens. (At a 10″ diagonal window size, Excel has room for 15 columns of 28 rows at a size that’s uncomfortably small unless my nose is up against the screen.) Nothing I’ve ever used Mathematica for would fit. Most of my Excel would involve scrolling/flipping to see how that logistic derivative compared to the normal curve. Uggh. But for easily 90% of users, an iOS-style multitasking over a convenient screen is perfect.

      • charly

        They are “productivity workers” but they also are extremely mobile. If they never left the office they would likely all use a desktop.

      • obarthelemy

        Actually, an Android tablet and an Android desktop have replaced 2 of my 4 screens.It started as an experiment… and it stuck. The key criteria is app availability, the key drawback is no cut-and-paste (well, no quick-and-dirty cut-and-paste: firing up TeamViewer or VNC just for that feels way overkill). Touch is nice to have on the lone tablet, and logitech’s 3-homed keyboard keeps my desk uncluttered.

      • sharrestom

        I think that the iPad today is best as a “tear off” of a Mac.

        An example would be iWork. Now I wouldn’t expect to write anything extended or build any large spreadsheet on an iPad, certainly not on a iPhone, but I would download the files to either via the cloud and make and upload changes and revisions on the fly.

        Sometime in the near future, I also expect that I will be able to use a 60Ghz connection, as an example, to a monitor, and thus have a large and high resolution screen to work on. That screen might be very well be an IMac. Given the resources that are pouring into mobile processor development, I would also expect some serious number crunching and simulation capability.

        I already have very limited SolidWorks capability on an iPad, and Autodesk has already built three 64 bit iOS applications for the iPhone. That gives me grab and go to a customer, with just barely enough capability to tweak designs.

        The crux of the matter is that PC’s have been good enough for the general population for quite some time, and iPhones and iPads are being pushed hard with productivity applications, not with especially good results.

        Smartphones and tablets have the form, weight, power factor, and ease of use for us to “tear off” our work on a PC, grab it and go. There isn’t any reason that this paradigm won’t evolve into a first class citizen for productivity apps.

        That to me is the Post PC world.

      • Space Gorilla

        Consider that the iPad will certainly be powerful enough to drive the apps you speak of, and on larger/multiple screens. It’s only a matter of time. The screen is the computer.

      • Kizedek

        The Netbook “story” may actually be something else. It could be that PC sales were already slowing, and that netbooks became the focus of OEMs because they were cheap and seemed to sell (for a while) — people seemed to be able to justify having one (or two), even if they already had a PC in the household.

        So, while the netbook market was certainly smaller than the whole PC (by definition, since it is a subset), it wasn’t necessarily “small” — it was probably the segment that showed the most growth at the time. So, what happened to the netbook? Saturation, you say? I think the iPad happened. Horace’s graphs might show some evidence to that effect.

        I think people realized that “Windows Everywhere” didn’t work very well when it came to netbooks (kinda like the Surface). Windows and Office were supposed to make a person productive, but perhaps netbooks weren’t particularly productive. The iPad went in a new direction and opened up new jobs to be done.

        One could imagine that the market for something like the iPad is, therefore, potentially large, not small. As others have posted, it may well become the first or primary computer for many in the world.

        And, rather than simply being content not to upgrade an older iPad as you suggest, many will be passing them down to their children. Increasingly, it becomes a real tool in education. My daughter’s high school in NL has made text books digital; and has a great intranet with classwork agenda’s etc. — all integrated into iOS and Android apps.

        So, maybe tablets are susceptible to similar dynamics — if a tablet is particularly compromised, like the Surface RT, or one that has a wide screen not fit for productive use in portrait mode, etc. Perhaps the iPad isn’t quite so susceptible.

      • Space Gorilla

        The concept that the nerds can’t wrap their heads around is that the iPad is a better PC for *most people*.

      • Nex

        For example, on a iPad, one can access their browser from standby in less than 3 seconds while drawing non-existent battery power. Going on/off to and from standby is instantaneous. On a traditional Windows laptop you be lucky if the battery charge didn’t drop 10% in a single day on S3 standby and it still takes at least10 secs to do the same in Windows. Cold PC boot with a HDD = Furgetaboutit. The PC fanboys just cannot see GHz or GLOPS supremacy in general doesn’t translate to advantages that actually matter to most people.

      • obarthelemy

        Just like the iPad fanboys don’t see that boot times may not be a critical part of the experience ?

      • Space Gorilla

        Yes, nerds make the same mistake over and over and over again, thinking that what is important to them is important to everyone else. obarthelemy proves my point.

      • charly

        I don’t think the ipad killed the netbook. I know i bought my netbook to use on holidays. Worked excellent in the pre-smartphone era but i never used it at home. But now i take my smartphone with me use it for what i used my netbook for.

      • Walt French

        Maybe tablets are susceptible to the netbook mechanics. But aside from having an actual keyboard—which, of course, an iPad *can* have—netbooks were pretty much inferior across the board to an iPad. Battery, screen quality, app support, ease of surfing, …. It’s not surprising that lower-cost Windows machines + iPads caused the category to implode.

        The iPad was a rather huge leap in accessibility from laptops—think about how a person with almost no experience can open the package, be told the local wifi password (if needed), and try tapping on icons. There may be another sustaining innovation of that magnitude for the multitudes of people who have simple personal connectivity desires, but I’m thinking there’s at most one company on the planet that would be crazy enough to try re-inventing the category of casual computing, in such a bold swoop. Much more likely, the category has matured enough that enhancements will come in dribs and drabs from time to time, strengthening, rather than annihilating the category.

      • charly

        Everybody already knows how to use a windows pc. Ipad is easier but is still something new to learn

      • Walt French

        Ummm, I’ve been programming for almost 50 years, ran/CTO’d a multi-person, networked small business on Microsoft gear and now that I’m an ordinary worker & don’t have Admin rights (which no “everybody” would know what to do with), I’m still at the mercy of our Tech Support Dept.

        So no, “everybody” does NOT know how to run a Windows PC.

      • 3doug4

        Really ?
        See the reviews and market reactions to W8.

      • obarthelemy

        App support is stronger on netbooks, even today. And so so is local storage ( for media creators or boulimics), as well as I/O. But I get your point

    • SockRolid

      re: “…tablets (which lean towards media consumption as Steve Balmer has commented)…”

      Gartner and others have been calling pad computers “media consumption devices” for years now. It’s a defensive reaction against the inevitable cannibalization of legacy desktop / laptop computing devices. Gartner’s clientele is heavily invested in the past. Better not to scare them too much.

      But yeah, Ballmer was much more entertaining when he was still alive.

      • Naofumi

        While I agree that “media consumption device” is in one aspect a defensive reaction from the PC legacy, it is also how Amazon has positioned the Kindle Fire. Remember that it was the Kindle Fire that ignited the 7-inch tablet category and was the first non-iPad tablet to make any significant impact. “Media consumption device” is also the strategy that Amazon and Google have to follow to justify selling their tablets at or below cost. They need users to “consume media” to pay for the hardware.

      • charly

        7″was the size the no-names sold. In my recollection it wasn’t Amazon who popularized them.

      • mjw149

        Amazon also is starting to include enterprise features in their tablets.

        tablets/phones are personal computers that will eventually replace larger personal computers. The only remaining variable is whose software they will run at what cost.

      • You say “larger personal computers”.

        Hypothetical question; What if personal computers shrank to the same size as tablets? The 11-inch MacBook Air is quite close, and now has similar battery life. If you match storage capacity, the prices are quite close. You could argue that the 11-inch MacBook Air could replace the 9.7-inch iPad unless you needed to use it while standing.

        I worry that the tablet category might be sandwiched in a relatively narrow niche between smartphones and laptops. The assumption that tablets/phones will replace PCs is not a given. It depends on how all these devices evolve.

        The recently announced 3Q13 results still suggest a slowing down of tablet growth on a quarterly basis.

        Interestingly, the popularity of the new iPad Air suggests that weight may be one of the keys to expanding the 9.7-inch tablet market.

    • 3doug4

      Steve Balmer’s comments and opinions are not very valuable as we have seen. He also made some infamous comments when the iPhone launched.

  • SockRolid

    Windows 8: taking the wow back out of computing.

  • Walt French

    Wait… is it now “Lambdasymco?”

  • Neil Kosterman

    Brilliant analysis! I’ve been waiting for someone to appreciate how wrong it is to leave smart phones and pads out of the “personal computing” market size for a long time. In case some are not aware of this, schools throughout the country are starting to provide iPads to kids for classroom use. Many, if not most, are issued with keyboards. Come on doubters, what does that tell you. Also, many iPhone users have their device as their only computing device, because they can’t afford more computers, and they can do everything they need to do with their iPhone (I suppose with a “Droid,” as well?). Horace presents a much fairer picture of the “personal computing” market.