Just as people no longer lug a boombox around on their shoulder through the city streets, trends show that shlepping a bulky laptop to the park or library may soon become a thing of the past as well.
Stagnant PC sales in recent years are the result of mobile-focused consumers looking to fulfill their needs with a smartphone or tablet rather than a desktop computer or even a laptop, Tech Thoughts opined this week, citing numbers from technology research group Gartner.
PC shipments stagnated between 2007 and 2011 and the percentage of machines being replaced has steadily fallen, according to the analysts. In fact, the replacement rate for PCs fell from 20 per cent in 2007 to 11 per cent last year. The only year that replacement rates showed an uptick was in 2010, but Tech Thoughts attributed that anomaly to a "low base effect" caused by the weak economy in 2009.
The site reckoned there has been a shift away from consumers' need for "content creation" systems like PCs to mobile "content consumption" devices. That doesn't mean content creation can't or won't be done on mobile devices, particularly tablets, however.
"There is no reason why content creation tools cannot be built for these devices," Tech Thoughts said, adding that as global tablet penetration increases, that will likely be what happens.
During the same five years that PC sales were lagging, smartphone shipments skyrocketed, growing from barely more than a couple million in 2007 to more than 300 million in 2011. Likewise, tablet shipments rose, though not as rapidly, during that period, kicked off by Apple's introduction of the first iPad in 2010.
The slowing PC replacement rate tracks so well with the rise in mobile device shipments, Tech Thoughts argued it proved that consumers have held off on replacing traditional computers and instead have purchased a mobile device.
"Apart from the fact that iOS- and Android-based mobile devices generally hold more appeal to consumers, there is a much larger reason driving the sustainability of this shift," Tech Thoughts said. "Over the last couple of years, it has become more and more apparent that PCs are seen as appliances, in that owning a PC is a necessity, but upgrading one is not."
The only market that remains a cash cow for PC makers is the computer gaming industry, though that too is showing signs of shifting towards mobile platforms, Tech Thoughts argued.
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