The eclipse of the PC and the rise of mobile devices

Posted on April 12, 2013  /  0 Comments

In my opening remarks at the Ministerial Program of GSMA’s Mobile World Congress in February, I referred to predictions that tablet sales would overtake laptop sales in 2014. This Economist report supports the general argument, but does not break out the numbers by desktops and laptops.

Apple, which makes desktop and laptop computers as well as tablets, suffered a smaller hit than other PC-makers. It also still commands a premium over other manufacturers for its sleek designs. And unlike other PC-makers, it makes up for lost PC sales with new tablet sales. HP has reintroduced tablets this year, after killing its mobile division a few years ago. (In an interview on April 10th Meg Whitman, its boss since 2011, was brimming with good cheer.) Of the next four biggest PC-makers, Lenovo, Dell, Acer and Asus, only the last has a tablet business of any size, but its ranks a distant fourth in that market, behind Apple, Samsung and Amazon.

Ever more people are finding that tablets satisfy all their computing needs. PC-makers are also to a certain extent victims of their own success: computers sold since about 2008 have enough memory, hard-disk storage and processing power to run the latest versions of the Windows and Macintosh operating systems. Only the most demanding users—among them gamers, animators and photographers—have a pressing need for the latest and greatest.

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