Technology – Is the PC actually dying ? (Dell, HP, IBM, Acer, Asus)

Old 7 Comments on Technology – Is the PC actually dying ? (Dell, HP, IBM, Acer, Asus) 53

This is another installment of my Technology posts, geared towards those of us who are technology professionals and support users or clients.

We keep hearing about the PC dying. PC sales are down. Tablet sales are surpassing PC sales. Mobile devices are hot in the retail market. Manufacturers are racing to get portable products to the market. These are all things we’ve been told and have been hearing, but is it actually true that the traditional PC is “dying” ? I would argue not.

Generally when this comment or observation is made, the justification for it is sales figures. Desktop PC sales are ‘x’ where-as tablet sales are ‘y’, and y is larger than x. Somehow, that automatically spells doom for the desktop PC. For some reason, there doesn’t seem to be any depth or context put into this observation.

As you know, the company I own provides 3rd party IT support services to clients. I have a number of clients, who obviously have a number of computers. And what I’ve found is that 99% of the clients I’ve brought on are all in the same situation: They all have aged desktop hardware. It’s actually rare for me to find a desktop PC that is newer than 4 years old. Why is this ? Well, deploying a dozen desktop PCs isn’t cheap. If you look at entire packages, the computer, Windows licensing, Microsoft Office licensing, a monitor, mouse, keyboard and speakers, is going to run you $1000.00+ for any kind of decent hardware. Organizations simply can’t afford to change this hardware out every year, so it’s basically kept until it fails or is completely obsolete (I’ve got new clients calling me weekly to help them change out old Windows XP machines). You have to keep in mind, in the 1990s and early 2000s, organizations (and individuals for that matter), were busy deploying their very first round of ‘modern’ computers, or replacing that first round with the ‘next generation’ PC (most of the time, Windows XP). During this time, PC sales spiked. This made sense. However, as organizations complete their big rounds of capital technology purchases, things get quiet for a while. This is completely normal.

The thing we need to understand is, the tablet market is new. The first iPad (and arguably the first real tablet) was released on April 3rd, 2010. This is just over 4 years ago. In the big picture, tablet computing just came out. People are out there buying their FIRST tablet. Of course we should expect spikes in sales. Consumers don’t own one yet. This is like saying when the first mass produced automobile was made that WOW, SOOOOOOOOOO many were sold! Well of course, no one owned an automobile so everyone ran out to get one. This is the same trend we’re seeing in tablet and mobile computing. Everyone already has a desktop PC, so they’re not running out and buying the latest model.

What would be interesting to know is how many first-generation iPads are still out there being used every day. Personally, I’ve seen quite a few. I don’t use mine every day, but I do have one. This would be an interesting statistic to see, because it will show whether consumers are behaving in the same manner as they are with their desktop PCs, where they are buying a tablet and keeping it until it fails or becomes completely obsolete.

I don’t believe the PC is dying, at least not in the business world. In the consumer world, yes, tablets are becoming more convenient for people to use recreationally in their homes. But in the business world, the desktop still reigns king and I haven’t seen any significant trend to change that.


Martin Lehner

Martin Lehner is an technology professional working for an IT services firm in Whitehorse, Yukon (Canada). He has been working in the technology field for over a decade. With a degree in Business Admin and numerous industry certifications, Martin leads a team of IT professionals that provide third party support for clients. Originally starting a company to offer web development services, Martin quickly realized that clients wanted the entire spectrum of technology services. When Martin is not at work (which is not often, since his company offers 24/7 support), he is busy at home spending time with his family.

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  1. William Oneb July 18, 2014 at 11:11 am

    Hi Martin,

    I also think P.Cs are IRREPLACEABLE not only in the business world but also for creative work. For instance, why didn’t you hammer out this on post on your tab or smartphone? Or you did?

    Just my opinion though.

    • Martin Lehner July 18, 2014 at 11:22 am

      Very true William. I generally write my posts on my All-In-One at work, or on my laptop at home. This particular one was written on my laptop.

  2. William Oneb July 18, 2014 at 11:13 am

    Remove “on” between “this” and “post”

  3. Katy Pillman July 18, 2014 at 12:39 pm

    Nice post! I see I started something in that brain of yours. Good counter claims! This is a large debate that we can only know who is correct in the future.

    • Martin Lehner July 18, 2014 at 2:22 pm

      It’s funny, I had actually written my post before yours was published, it just happened that it hadn’t been published yet! I thought that was ironic when I was looking through the new posts this morning.

  4. Matheus Lopes July 18, 2014 at 3:50 pm

    And there is the classical motive: The PCs for the daily job do not need to be the powerful one. I do not work with IT any more, but I can see on the company I work that most of the computers are 2 or 4 years old. For the office job, that is enough. The company just upgraded all stations to Windows 7 when the support for XP went down. I talking about a company with around 40K employees.

    • Martin Lehner July 19, 2014 at 1:55 pm

      Exactly. So when that hardware refresh cycle comes up, that’s ONE single client purchasing 40,000 desktop PCs. I assume this is the type of trend we’ll see with tablet and mobile computing, but we’ll have to wait and see.

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