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Monday, August 30, 2010

My PC Ain’t Dead Yet!

The last few months I’ve been hearing more and more about people and companies saying that the Desktop PC is dying.

Most of these people are non-entities (unlike me!) and their opinions don’t really matter (unlike mine!).  However, when Google made the statement that Desktop PC’s will be dead within 3 years I actually sat up and took notice.  (Well, for a few minutes, anyway.)

For more info on what Google said, check out this article.

So, being active in the IT industry, I started thinking about this statement, and the implications that it would have on people and businesses.  And my conclusion?  It’s total nonsense.

As evidence of the declining popularity of Desktop PC’s, people are pointing to statistics and graphs like these:

PC Sales

This graph clearly shows the declining sales of Desktop PC’s compared to various portable systems, and most notably the increase in sales of tablet PC’s, along with a projection of these sales (if current trends keep up) up until 2015.

However, there are a few flaws with this graph, or more specifically, with drawing those conclusions from this graph.

Firstly, the graph doesn’t show how many of those purchases are insurance-related purchases, or replacements for broken or stolen devices.  You see, portable devices are stolen much more frequently than desktop PC’s, not to mention the number of laptops that inadvertently take a journey down the stairs…  These devices then obviously need to be replaced, leading to an increase in sales.

The second problem I have with this graph is that it doesn’t show PC component sales, only full PC sales.  It’s common knowledge that desktop PC’s are far more upgradeable than portable devices.  Over the last few years, technology has been “stable” – meaning that a PC purchased new 4 years ago can often be upgraded today to fairly good specifications.  This means that (especially with a world-wide recession) people would rather upgrade their PC’s than purchase a new one, which is not the case with portable systems, and which would influence the conclusions we draw from this graph.

I have one more point to make about this.  If desktop PC’s were dying, then why would people be buying more and larger LCD and LED monitors?  If the trend was really “size-related”, why then are people purchasing things that take up even more desk space?  The answer is simple – there are certain things that people don’t want to do on a small screen.  I don’t want to watch movies on my BlackBerry (though I can if I want to).  I don’t want to play Lord of the Rings Online with my laptop’s pathetic integrated graphics.  I do my video editing, gaming, movie watching, music playing, and graphic designing on a system with more power than an Apple iPad.  Because I want to.

What are your thoughts on the matter?  Do you agree, or do you have a different opinion?  (At the risk of sounding like King Julian, your opinion counts, because you are my readers!)  So comment away; I read all comments, even if I don’t always reply.

So, for now, signing off from my DESKTOP PC, and damn proud of it,

Lourens, out.


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  2. I agree; valid points all the way.

    Mobile computers have their own kind of awesomeness. They can and have quite logically replaced desktops for many, if not most of the average guy's computer needs, as you've shown in one post. The distinct type of awesome that the desktop has, must not be neglected though. Often so in price-to-spec ratio. However...

    More importantly: "big things" have a certain kind of usability to them. A while back, some of these "future thinkers" claimed that the mouse will be obsoleted very soon by the touch screen. Nonsense! My arms would break off if I had to extend one of them EVERY SINGLE TIME I wanted to click on something on a large screen in front of me (don't mention table-top like touch screens -- awesome in their own right, upright screens have several advantages like spill resistance). Touch-screens may even become predominant, but usable as they are, the mouse outclasses them when it comes to minimizing movement across a large display. Just because something is awesome does not mean it is THE awesome and will be good for everything.

    In the end, for me, nothing beats a big screen, big keyboard, big mouse with a big smooth area to run on, and a big speaker system, all atop a nice big table (on which my nice big coffee mug can stand on too) with a comfortable chair, all in the comfort of my own home. And like you said, with the assurance that it won't accidentally take a dive down the couch, the stairs or the toilet.

    It even comes with the right to brag that I "assembled and custom-configured" it myself (which has the side advantage of the hardware suiting my needs and budget nicely).

    Viva la desktop PC!
    (EDIT: some typo's)

  3. Agreed, Hannes. As you were talking about touch-screens, I remembered some-or-other futuristic Tom Cruise movie that I actually had the displeasure of seeing. I can't even remember the name. But in this movie, computer screens and interfaces were integrated and holographic, which meant that you stand in front of the "screen", moving items in a holographic display with your hands. The whole thing looked very impressive, but really - in a world where people are going for "easier", WHO in their right mind would ever STAND in front of a computer, and do aerobics in a hologram, just to accomplish what they could do with a few clicks, in a sitting position, today?

    People, wake up - the Desktop PC isn't as necessary as it was a few years ago, but it's NOT going to die anytime soon.

  4. I will probably never buy a desktop again. But I will probably buy a nice screen, comfortable keyboard and already have an excellent mouse. I would also want the size of my laptop to decrease to the size of my phone but have more memory. I want the best of both worlds and think in many ways the lines between desktops and laptops are blurring with mobile power and stationary comforts.