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The Future of the PC Market

What is the future of the PC market for the year of 2014? We have heard the same message fairly consistently over the past year; the future of personal computers is bleak. With sales expected to suffer in 2013 combined with the rise of tablet sales many people seemed ready to stick a fork in PCs because they are done.

Or are they?

Is the sky really falling for PC’s or was it just a blip on the forecast that can happen to any business over time? Looks look at two important factors, sales numbers and advancements, before we come to a conclusion.

Behind the Numbers for 2013

While sales did drop by around 10% and ended up at volume that hasn’t been seen since 2009, that volume of units sold was still north of 300 million.

Let’s consider that for a minute; there were over 315 million units sold in 2013. That is not a small number, even when you consider the shrinkage, selling over 300 million units is a huge number. In fact, the reduced sales were completely in line with predictions from numerous industry experts so it was not at all unexpected.

Going forward, the expectation for continued shrinkage does exist, but that prediction is for about 4% for 2014, which marks a slowing that would then lead one to believe that the total number of units should not drop below 300 million anytime in the near future. The sky is most definitely not falling.

While no industry should be excited about lower sales number, the fact that it was expected and certain factors played into it is much better than an unexpected decline.

Innovation on the Horizon

Now beyond just the numbers, one reason why many people felt that the PC market was doomed is a lack of innovation. Let’s face it, a lot of consumers like newer and shinier things. Tablets were most certainly an “it” item that people wanted to have for status as well as usefulness. In the classroom a tablet makes a lot of sense and they do for some business applications in the work environment. Those reasons combined with dropping prices made tablets an “affordable” luxury item.

However there are certain areas where a tablet is not superior and there are plenty of companies out there ready to highlight those differences with the products they have produced and currently have in production.

The Microsoft Windows operating system is still a very relevant and powerful operating system. With high ratings and innovative features, it can be sleek, fast and fun. It will certainly keep PC’s in the game around the house and at the office. There is also a level of convenience in using device, both mobile and desktop, that run off the same operating system.

To that end Samsung unveiled the Samsung ATIV One 7 at the 2014 Consumer Electronics Show. It is a PC that is basically a large Galaxy phone. It really only works in conjunction with another Galaxy device but then it serves as cloud storage and allows you to control your device from your desktop. They are following the theme of being innovative and unique and also linking devices together based on need and convenience.

Don’t forget PC gaming either. While consoles are fantastic, PC’s have a very solid niche of gamers and there has been plenty of innovation aimed towards that crowd like SteamOS offerings of the Chronos machine that can use two top of the line graphics cards at the same time in a show of ridiculous PC horsepower. Steam also has the IbuyPower which is console-like but would have closer to a $500 price tag. Many Steam games are much cheaper for PCs versus consoles so this could become an area that serious gamers gravitate towards.

There are other fun new toys out there such as the eye-tracking mouse, which can be used for business or gaming needs, and computers like the new Toshiba “shape shifter” that has a screen, keyboard and stand that can connect in a variety of ways. Of course that is just a handful of new innovations; more are on the way.

The Bottom Line

While numbers of unit sales will decrease, it is by no means the end of the world. Right now things are in-flux but the expectation should be that there will be more balance in the future in regards to PC’s, tablets and smart phones. While numbers aren’t going to surge upward in any meaningful way, every business eventually hits its’ ceiling when it comes to sales.

People are going to become more comfortable using multiple devices especially as operating systems continue to cross barriers making it easier for people to link devices together and obtain maximum use with the smallest effort, which will make all devices relevant and needed in the near future. The sky is most definitely not falling and the future of the PC market is actually looking pretty stable.

 

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