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Say goodbye to the PC

a post-pc worldIt’s been a while coming but most folks now realise the PC is dead. To be replaced by a plethora of different platforms, all running Apps, both web and mobile. Native applications are a remnant of the monolithic period of computer history and we’ll look back on the last decade as the time we finally grew out of our desktop mindset and started down the path of developing individual solutions to problems on an ever growing number of platforms.

If you’ve already binned your PC in favour of tablets and smartphones, you’re not alone, you’re part of a growing revolution, one that is forecast to outweigh desktop Internet users this year. Consumers are pulling out their smartphones and tablets to do more than surf the net and play Fieldrunners with an estimated $1 trillion in global mobile transactions by 2015, a giant leap from the $241 billion recorded in 2011. I still find it odd that less than a quarter of companies even have a mobile site!

When I started work in 1983 (on the very first PCs) the world was awash with typewriters and computer terminals. This period has a lot of the same disruptive feel and atmosphere. Back in the 1980s, businesses were transformed as typing pools were scrapped and the world moved to word processors and onto PCs. Invented in the late 1800s, the typewriter powered the western world for over a hundred years yet died out in less than 10. To address the huge pivot in the marketplace the huge players are scrabbling to re-invent themselves.

Microsoft is eyeing the post-PC market with tablets, and Nvidia is already well placed to take advantage of the shift with its Tegra processors. Google has also done well from its investment in Android, getting its services into the hands of hundreds of millions of mobile users worldwide. Then there’s Apple, who triggered the PC to post-PC shift with the iPhone and iPad.

With great foresight, IBM sold/dumped/moved-on it’s PC business in 2005 for a bargain price of $1.75bn. Less than 10 years later the PC world has expired. We’re also starting to see rapid expansion of companies taking advantage of the shift, companies such as ARM who provide the portable, low-power processor powering the next generation of devices.

Where, then, does this leave the others? I’m thinking here about Dell, Intel and HP. Dell are walking an extraordinary path; the company outlined, in very clear language, that the PC world is dead. This is a selection of quotes of what they openly said:

  • “… decreasing revenues in the market for desktop and notebook PCs and the significant uncertainties as to whether, or when, this decrease will end…”
  • “…the overall difficulty of predicting the market for PCs, as evidenced by the significant revisions in industry forecasts among industry experts and analysts over the past year…”
  • “…a shift in demand from higher-margin premium PC products…”
  • “…the increasing usage of alternative PC operating systems to Microsoft Windows…”
  • “…the increasing adoption of ‘bring your own device’ policies by businesses…”

Dell had revenues of over £50bn last year. 75% of that came from the PC world. A couple of months ago Dell announced a $25bn deal (the largest technology buyout ever) to take the company private and it’s widely suggested that Dell will leave the PC market entirely as it re-structures behind closed doors. I suspect the restructure will be brutal and relentless.

There are going to be winners in this shift.

  • You and me. If you’re reading this then you already understand the world has changed and you’re already doing something about it. Cool right?
  • Consumers. Bye-bye bloated old PCs and hello lightweight, low-cost tablets. The sub £100 tablet is already here.
  • The cloud. By that I mean cloud service providers – a post PC world doesn’t need (or want) expensive local storage.
  • Working environments. Folks will be tethered to services and no longer tied to desks. Ace, the death of the office cubicle to boot!

by Martin Dower

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